I’m not built for pure chaos

wormyI obviously can‘t do without any structure, so while pondering what to write about, I immediately thought about how to set the different topics apart from eachother. So I introduce a system of abbreviations to put in the title of a given blog entry, making search easier and simultaneously giving an early hint at the topic in question. Those abbreviations are:

[WRPG] for roleplaying-related topics

[WWoM] for music (Wormy‘s World of music)

[WWoG] for computer games

[WWoC] for comics

[WwoB] for books

[WWTV] movies and tv series

[RW] everything that belongs to the real world

I hope that I can get a bit more creative with roleplaying stuff, working at some conversions of Forgotten Realms material to Pathfinder 2nd, and also working at my planned campaign and my own homebrew. Music will mostly mean reviews of new metal and rock releases and the occasional concert report, but as I‘m also discovering a lot of older stuff, I won‘t rule out taking you an a trip down Nostalgia Lane. Same with books and TV series, while I‘m still figuring out if, how and what to talk about computer games.

Comics will probably take quite some space, as I try my best to read as many Marvel and DC comics as possible. Thanks to Marvel unlimited, I even plan to go back to the beginning (which I define as Fantastic Four #1, as I‘m not that interested in golden age stuff; I‘ll probably make some exception for DC, but that stays to be seen). I‘ll also try and come to a point where the comics I talk about are those soon to be released in the german version by Panini.

Oh, and just saying: It‘s sooooo awesome finally to be able to relive the original World of Warcraft experience, it‘s finally challenging again.

Rethinking my Blog/Ein neuer Ansatz

wormyOK, this is just a short announcement about me changing my plans regarding this blog. So far, most of my entries have been focused on the roleplaying part of my life, but for quite some time, that part has had to make room for other hobbies, that I also spend lots of time with. And as the numerous failed attempts to revive the blog with a reliable posting frequency show, I‘m obviously unable to focus on writing about roleplaying when in fact, I‘m doing other things half of the time.

On the other hand, I‘ve hinted several times that I want to include those other hobbies in my writings, but never did anything with it. Which led me to the conclusion that I need another approach. So in the future, I‘m not doing this as a roleplaying blog with occasional posts about other topics, but as a (multimedia) blog where I write about what I‘m actually doing at the given time, a diary of the things I do in my free time. Still fits the blog‘s title, because in my head, Wormy‘s Worlds included those other things from the very start, so I need to change nothing on that front. What I hope it will do for me is help me to write blog entries on a more regular basis. I‘ll also have to rethink my policy regarding the use of language, because part of what I write about will probably be more useful to a german-speaking audience; on the other hand, no one reads my blog anyways, so I can do whatever I want to, so we‘ll see how this develops.

This is just a short list of things I want to write about in the future:

1. Still roleplaying

2. music (I hear a lot of music, especially from the Metal genre, so why not write about that?)

3. computer games (takes a backseat at the moment, but I used to be an avid player, so I don‘t want to rule that out)

4. comics ( especially DC and Marvel comics)

5. books ( I started to read a lot lately, so talking about those books I read should be fun)

6. movies and TV (series)

7. real world topics (I‘m a bit hesitant to open that box of Pandora, but on the other hand, it‘s the world I actually live in, so why not?)

Not sure if I‘ll try and structure this (into something like Movie Monday, RPG thursday etc.), because I‘m not doing everything all of the timefor obvious reasons, so there might be times when, as an example, I‘m all about music or comics and not reading very much. So at least for the time being, it‘s probably more like writing about whatever is at the forefront of my mind at a given moment.

Das ist eine kurze Ankündigung über gewisse Änderungen miner Pläne für diesen Blog. Bisher hab ich mich hauptsächlich darauf beschränkt, über Rollenspielthemen zu schreiben. Allerdings beschäftige ich mich inzwischen nicht mehr so ausschließlich mit diesem Thema und nehmen andere Hobbys einen deutlich größeren Platz ein. Und wie meine regelmäßig fehlschlagenden Versuche, den Blog mit einer gewissen Regelmäßigkeit mit Einträgen zu versorgen, zeigen, fällt es mir offensichtlich schwer, mich auf dieses Thema zu fokussieren, wenn ich in Wirklichkeit meine Zeit mit anderen Hobbys verbringe.

Auf der anderen Seite hab ich schon mehrere Male angedeutet, diese anderen Hobbys in den Blog miteinbeziehen zu wollen, ohne das auch wirklich in die Tat umzusetzen. Was mich zum Schluss geführt hat, dass ich eine andere Herangehensweise brauche. Und daher werde ich den Blog in Zukunft nicht mehr als Rollenspielblog behandeln, der auch für andere Themen offen ist, sondern ihn statt dessen in einen Blog umfunktionieren, der die verschiedenen medialen Welten, in denen ich mich bewege, gleichberechtigt behandelt. Ich hoffe, dass mir das zu einer regelmäßigeren Schreibweise verhilft, und außerdem passt auch dieser Ansatz ganz gut zum Blogtitel Wormys Welten, da dieser sich von Anfang an auf alle Welten bezog, in denen ich mich aufhalte. Ich muss auch darüber nachdenken, welche Sprache ich in Zukunft für den Blog benutze. Ich schreibe gerne in Englisch, andererseits werden einige Bloginhalte wohl auch in Zukunft eher für das deutschsprachige Publikum interessanter bleiben (gut, eigentlich hab ich gar kein Publikum, ich kann also eh einfach machen was ich will).

In Zukunft möchte ich also über folgende Themen schreiben:

1. Rollenspiel (natürlich, immer noch)

2. Musik ( diese Welt nimmt als Metalhead einen wichtigen Raum in meinem Leben ein)

3. Computerspiele (wohl eher weniger, aber ich will es nicht ausschließen)

4. Comics (insbesondere Marvel und DC Comics)

5. Bücher (neuerdings lese ich wieder sehr viel, was einiges an Rezensionen abwerfen sollte)

6. Kino und TV (letzteres meint vor allem Serien der Streaming-Anbieter)

7. gesellschaftliche und politische Themen (warum nicht auch diese Box der Pandora öffnen, immerhin lebe ich auch in dieser echten Welt)

Ich weiß noch nicht, ob und welche Struktur das annehmen wird. Bestimmte Tage für bestimmte Themen zu reservieren, wird wohl daran scheitern, dass ich nicht immer allen Hobbys gleichzeitig nachgehe. Also werde ich zumindest vorerst einfach über die Dinge schreiben, die ich gerade im Moment tue bzw. getan habe.

Between Worlds: How to transfer campaigns to another setting (Part 2)

Ironfang Invasion in the Realms: setting stuff do deal with

GamalonAs alluded to in my lost blog post, I want to run an Ironfang Invasion game in the Realms and I want to make sure that it fits as seamlessly as possible in the Realms Canon already existing. Realms Canon, as I define it, means the setting status as of 1372DR, the year of the 3E Forgotten Realms Campaign setting. That means that this book is what everybody playing in my game can take for granted, while every bit of lore that came before it might be changed so that it better fits my vision of the Realms (though those changes might be pretty minor, because I love most of the stuff written for the Realms during the AD&D era). It also means that the official history of the Realms after that date didn‘t happen yet and probably never will. In fact, my campaign will start a little bit sooner, at the end of 1370 DR, for reasons I‘ll explain a little bit later.

I decided to run the AP in the Great Dale, a region in the Unapproachable East, that is only sparsely populated and also has the advantage not to have been detailed too much by official designers, which makes the adaptation a lot easier. Still, there are some thing I have to consider when I want to put Ironfang Invasion in this region.

First of all, we know that there are two power factions in the Dale, namely the Talontar Blightlords under leadership of the Rotting Man and the Circle of Leth, an organization of druids and rangers led by the Nentyarch. Those factions are deadly enemies and we know from the Unapproachable East sourcebook that the blightlords drive the druids out of the Rawlinswood in Midwinter 1371 DR. That’s the main reason why I let the AP start a bit sooner. First of all, I don’t want the Circle of Leth being reestablished in the Forest of Lethyr, because that’s where the game will play out for quite some time and that could potentially mess a lot with the AP’s plot. More importantly, second, this gives me a very good reason for the fact that the Circle of Lethe doesn’t immediately deal with the hobgoblin invasion (they are preparing for the inevitable clash with the Blightlords and get caught off-guard by the new development), but it also can let me use the developments to come to add to the AP’s plot. Because in “Prisoners of the Blight”, the fifth adventure of the AP, the PCs will have to invade the Rawlinswood (Fangwood in the AP) and deal with the Rotting Man (Arlantia, might also make her into a powerful ally of Talona’s Chosen) in order to free the Nentyarch (the fey queen Gendowyn) and help him escape to the Forest of Lethyr.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure yet if I’ll use the Nentyarch and the Rotting Man in those roles, because those are two pretty powerful bastards (lvl 28 and 22 respectively) but I would love too, because to free the Nentyarch from a dire fate would really put the PCs in his favor. Also if they really succeeded to kill the Rotting Man, that wouldn’t change official lore very much, as according to the 4e Campaign setting, he was killed in 1373 DR anyways. Maybe I’ll blow the AP up a bit so that the PCs are a bit more powerful, or I’ll downlevel those two guys to better fit the level range the PCs are at that time we’ll see.

There’s a third power to consider in this conflict, and that is the neighboring kingdom of Impiltur. Impiltur is generally known to let their neighbors fight their own wars, but this is a bit different, as Impiltur has been fighting time and time again against invading hobgoblin armiss during history, so I can’t imagine they would look too friendly to a new hobgoblin empire in their direct vicinity. So I need something to distract Impiltur from interfering with the AP’s plot, and I actually have two ideas for that. The first would be to put Kraggodan, the AP’s dwarven city in the Earthfast mountains. We know from “Trail of the Hunted”, the first AP adventure, that the theft of an important artifact led Kraggodan to change blows with Molthune, and I guess I could do the same with the Realms’ Earthfast and Impiltur. An even more ambitious idea involves using the events of Paizo’s Curse of the Crimson Throne AP to instigate a civil war in Impiltur at the same time the hobgoblins invade the Great Dale. The really cool thing about this is that I simply could use the same mastermind for both of those events, Soneillon, the Queen of Whispers, who has manipulated events in that region for quite some centuries. Also, it would finally allow me to run this AP which is still my most favorite AP of the Pathfinder era.

And while we’re at ambitious ideas, wouldn’t it be a great thing if all those demoncysts in the region start exploding, letting an army of demons lose; I guess we would need pretty mythic heroes to let them feel the Wrath of the Righteous (yet another Paizo-AP, which would fit that topic pretty well), especially as it is known that this is kinda what happens when the Spellplague hits the region anyways in 1385 DR.

But that goes way beyond the scope of this article. Would be fun though to insert a bit of foreshadowing to that to make my players feel like they play in a living, breathing world where ther actions have actual consequences.

Between Worlds: How to transfer campaigns to another setting (Part 1)

rpgblogcarnivallogosmallThis article is part of this month’s RPG Carnival as presented by Codex Anathema. It’s also part of what I hope will be a little series of blog posts dealing with different aspects of this month’s topic, “Locations, Locations, Locations”.

Meshing an adventure or a campaign with a setting it hasn’t originally been written for can be as easy or as complex as you’d like it to be. Homebrew or published adventure, generic or written with a specific campaign world in mind, in the end, it is your game, and you decide how much work you want to do to run it in the setting of your choice (and again, homebrew or published, it is your world, so it is your decision if you want to stay true to the setting’s lore or if you feel free to change all of it). This article will focus on the geographical part of that activity,because that’s what the RPG carnival is about, but of course, there’s also plot, time and other questions to consider, that I might deal with in another article.

Before we go into the different possibilities how to geographically mesh a campaign with a setting, I’d like to introduce my own motivation to do such a thing. First, I’ve been a big fan of the adventures published by Paizo since the time they used to publish good old Dungeon Magazine. I love the AP format, I love the stories they tell with their APs and with few exceptions, I consider their adventures better than most adventures published by other design companies. Second, I’m very much a Forgotten Realms guy, and while I do love Golarion (or the Age of Lost Omens setting, as it is called now), I find myself returning to my old love time and time again. The same goes, to a slightly lesser extent, for Eberron. So with my limited time, I had to decide for a single setting to run games in, and as long as my homebrew isn’t ready (which will probably be never), I decided to return to the Realms.

The easiest way to integrate an adventure into a setting, of course, is to just plug and play it into the campaign world. Even a setting like the Forgotten Realms with its extensive lore that has built over four decades and more still has blank areas to fill, so as long as the party doesn’t move out of that area, no one will see any inconsistencies with the setting’s original lore. That works especially good with players that have no knowledge about the setting in question. For example, if you want to run Paizo’s Ironfang Invasion AP in the Forgotten Realms (I chose that example because that’s what I’m actually doing right now), just put it in an undeveloped region in any of the frontier regions and be done with it. The AP is mostly self-contained, so it also won’t change much in the Realms if you don’t want to and even when the players decide to visit one of the nearby locations of the original setting, it won’t influence the plot of that AP too much.

Now this approach poses a simple question: if you do it this way, why even bothering with adapting the AP to another setting? Wouldn’t it be easier to just run the campaign in the setting it is originally written for? And yes, of course it would, but then, if you don’t have to put in much work and prefer to run it in another campaign world, why even care about that? Maybe you and/or your players simply prefer running the Realms, but also want to run that AP, so putting those two things together is the easiest way to have your cake and eat it too. And if you aren’t bothered too much about lore consistency, there’s simply no need to put in too much work.

Of course, a slightly more advanced approach would be to replace setting locations with the locations of the AP. That works especially well when the setting locations haven’t been dealt with extensively within the existing lore, and you can just use the campaign’s lore for that location instead. It’s a bit harder when you already have detailed write-ups for a location because then you have to decide if you want to use, let’s say, an original inn as described in the setting’s location or if you would rather use Phaendar’s Taproot inn as depicted in the AP. Still, renaming things to better fit the chosen setting’s nomenclature isn’t too hard and it automatically lends your game a bit of the new setting’s individual atmosphere, which is probably part of the reason you want to use that setting instead of the original one.

For me, the real fun starts when you want to make full use of the setting of your choice, which in my case is the Forgotten Realms; I don’t want to do a simple plug and play, I want to make the gameplay into a real Realms experience using all kinds of Realmslore to add detail to the game, but also to partly replace the Golarion-specific stuff from the AP. My approach still starts with the question where to put the AP into the Realms, but the answer to that question is heavily informed by information I find within the Realms stuff. Let’s again use the example of the Ironfang Invasion AP (and be warned, what follows contains slight spoilers, so if you are a prospective player of that campaign, think twice before you read any further).

Ironfang Invasion basically is about a hobgoblin invasion into the frontier-like region of Nirmathas, with the hobgoblin army’s leader planning to erect a new empire for her own people. For plot reasons, we’re looking for a heavily forested area, we also want the starting location to lie at a river that cannot be easily crossed. Looking through the campaign outline for Ironfang Invasion, we also want to have a nearby organisation of Rangers, we need a large town in the region, a big dwarven city (that will be kind of problem, but I’ll come back to that), and we also need a forest that is cursed by a blight that the PCs will have to cope with.

As an aside, what we don’t need is, interestingly enough, a version of Molthune for our Realms’ Nirmathas, because the conflict between these two countries, that plays such a defining role within Golarion’s lore, doesn’t factor into the AP’s narrative so we can simply ignore it. Now if you want to play on that element, there’s certainly places like the Dalelands to introduce that AP and use the Zhentarim as your opponent, but that isn’t what I was interested in. I wanted to have a place that could possibly serve to establish a new hobgoblin kingdom without stepping on too many toes, a region that was only sparsely populated and had no big power laying claims on those lands. Now I was reading up on all things Impiltur at that time and so it was more by chance that I stumbled over a region that seemed to fit my preferences pretty well: the Great Dale.

The Great Dale is one of those regions that has never gotten an in-depth treatment like other regions have, which is good because it allows me to insert a lot of stuff without having to care about creating setting inconsistencies. Meaning for example that I can take locations out of the Nesmian Plains gazetteer in the first Ironfang Invasion adventure. Or from several campaign setting books released by Paizo. But more importantly, even with the few things known about the Great Dale, I can cover most of the things mentioned before. The Great Dale is, to a large extent, sparsely populated, and similar to Nirmathas, the people who live there prefer to be left alone and don’t easily accept rulership by a foreign nation (there’s kind of a rulership I’ll need to deal with, but that isn’t a question of geography). To the north, there’s the Giantspire Mountains, and there’s a lot of hobgoblin tribes already united. There’s two big forests – mostly unexplored – that I can easily use for my needs. What’s even better, one of them is ruled by the Rotting Man who’s influence is poisoning the forest, so the blight I have need for? Already there. We also have a river, the Dalestream, running through a large part of the Dale. The Nentyar Hunter is a prestige class from the 3.5 sourcebook “Unapproachable East” that I can certainly use as a replacement for the AP’s Chernasado rangers.

The one thing I’m not sure about at this point of time is the location of Kraggodan, the dwarven city. I see basically two possibilities. Unapproachable East mentions shield dwarves living in the Giantspire mountains, so I simply could put the city there. On the other hand, I could also use Earthfast, a dwarven city already established in Realmslore located in the Earthfast mountains. Both locations have their pros and cons, but as those are mostly plot related, I’ll spare that topic for a follow-up article. For now, I’m content with the knowledge that I have this location also covered.

As you can see, I’m using a top to bottom approach here. I’ve chose the location based on some of the bigger elements of the campaign and have yet to start to fill in the little details. This time, and with this AP, that might be relatively easy, because there’s a lot of white space to fill, but if I had tried to run that AP directly in Impiltur, as I originally considered to do, I would have had a lot more work to do, because that region has been given much more love especially thanks to George Krashos, who wrote that beautiful article in Dragon #364. We might come back to that region at a later point of time (because, yes, I’ve got plans^^). Next time, I’ll try to go a bit more into detail, with the focus on “Trailof the Hunted”, the first part of the Ironfang Invasion AP.

RPG Carnival and Pathfinder 2nd

wormyThis month‘s RPG Carnival is presented by Codex Anathema and deals with the topic of locations, and I hope to be able to write several posts regarding that topic during August, especially as it‘s something I‘m dealing with at the moment anyways. Reason being that I‘m (still) in the process of adapting Paizo‘s Ironfang Invasion AP to the Forgotten Realms which I plan to run with Pathfinder 2nd edition rules as a PBP soon. And as part of that adaptation is meshing the locations from the original AP with the Realms setting, that might spark several location posts alone.

Apart from that, there‘s also Tetheril, that stupid homebrew setting with it‘s years-long difficulties to get out of my head and onto paper. Should also be worth a post or two, so I hope at the end of August I might have a nice little bunch of posts bundled together that deal with the topic suggested by Codex Anathema. And if all goes well, I will also have done a bit of worldbuilding for my homebrew setting.

Apart from that (but also being part of my PbP plan mentioned above), yesterday was the big day when Pathfinder 2nd edition was finally released for the wider audience. I started reading through the rules immediately and plan to do another bunch of blog posts with comments and opinions on what I find in the Core Rules Book (maybe also the Bestiary, though I’m not sure yet what format to use for that; maybe I’ll do what I already gave a try once and start a series with adventure ideas for single monsters in different settings).

Last but not least, as I find myself reading up on as much Realmslore as I can, I also want to restart my long dormant series of Dragon Magazine reviews, which went to sleep at #27, so it’s only three issues before the very first article written by Ed Greenwood graced it’s pages.

And yeah, as usual, there are other things as well, but I try to focus , so those will have to take a backseat for the time being.

Return to Baldur’s Gate

Heroes of BGNow, this here took me by complete surprise. James Ohlen, former Bioware lead designer for CRPG pearls like Baldur’s Gate I + II, Neverwinter Nights and Dragon Age:Origins has become a tabletop rpg publisher and together with another former Bioware employee (Jesse Sky), he just released kind of a sequel for BG 1 in the Dungeon Masters‘ Guild. Heroes of Baldur’s Gate starts a year after the event of that game, when Zhentarim Forces try to fill the power vacuum left by the demise of the Baalspawn Sarevok. Written for 5E, this 160-page adventure serves as an entry point to the Forgotten Realms, bringing new heroes from level 1 to 6 during its course. Including stats for some of the games‘ most popular NPCs, it also comes with a Sword Coast campaign guide, detailing the city and its surroundings.

Immediately bought the digital version of this product (it is downloading while I write this) and haven’t been as excited as now for a very long time. To this day, I think that the BG series has been one of the best gaming experiences of all times (if not for Planescape: Torment, I’d rank it as THE best) and to get an adventure written by the guy who helped bring those game to live makes me giddy with anticipation.  From the looks of it, I already like what I see (the artwork for the NPCs is awesome, I immediately fell in love with Jaheira once again), and I’ll certainly write a full review after I’ve read it.

And this, when I just announced my departure from the Sword Coast yesterday, I guess Tymora has other plans for me.

And here I go again …

GamalonRecently I joined two Facebook groups that are based around my two favorite settings (the Forgotten Realms and Eberron). It is fun being able to communicate with people that share the same deep love for those worlds and sometimes you even get surprised by some known names commenting on the different threads. But most importantly, those two communities succeeded in inspiring me and making me want to get creative and productive myself again. Which is why I finally succumbed to the temptation of writing on my blog again (To be honest, it was more like helping me overcome another heavy case of procrastination blues). And while I still have all kinds of things going around in my head that I want to tackle, I decided that my focus should be directed at something else I did not even know about that I wanted to do it, before I tried to answer a question posed by another member of the Sages of the Forgotten Realms group.

(As an aside: I‘m using the English language again, because at the moment I‘m mostly active in international groups. There‘s still the possibility that I‘ll also write in German, that will mostly depend on the topic and on whom I‘m to address with a given post.)

Now that question I mentioned revolved around the Forgotten Kingdom of Impiltur and if there were power groups other than the Zhentarim that might work against the Impilturan monarchy. And while I was reading up on the topic, I didn’t only found a possible angle how to do that (in fact, there would be other possibilities as well), I also suddenly felt that this angle might work really well with integrating Paizo’s Ironfang Invasion AP into the Realms.

Now I’ve talked about this thing in former posts.t I like to do stuff like this, because while I also like other worlds (like Golarion, the original setting for that AP), I still find myself coming back to the Realms (and Eberron) again and again. On the other hand, I prefer Paizo adventures over most adventures from other publishers very much. So putting those in the settings of my choice seems to be a win-win scenario as far as I am concerned.

So the plan for the foreseeable future is to read up on as much Impiltur-related lore as I can find (sadly, or should I say luckily, that’s not that much compared to other locations in the Realms), while simultaneously rereading the Ironfang Invasion AP. While I’m doing this, I imagine writing some posts where I just brainstorm and think about what I want to change and what I can leave unchanged and how I can turn this Golarion-based AP into a true Faerun experience. I hope that I end up with a conversion note document that may be of interest for a DM wanting to run said AP in the Forgotten Realms.

I also hope that, as a side effect, to be able to convert certain rules elements to Pathfinder, from updating older 3.5 stuff to maybe also converting 4E or 5E elements, as I stumble about them. If I find such conversions already done by other people I might use those instead.

And in the end I hope that this fires me up enough to finally work on all those other things I talked about in this blog in recent years.

Oh yeah, and just for completeness’ sake, here’s a link to the Eberron FB group I joined. Because while this here is about the Realms, I also have plans for Eberron.

P.S.: Some days after I wrote the initial part of that post, plans have already changed a bit. While reading up on Impiltur and the Ironfang Invasion AP, I found that I feel a bit uncomfortable putting that campaign directly into Impiltur. The premise of that AP depends a bit on Nirmathas being quite the frontier region. There’s no real central government which also means that there’s no real central army. And there’s a lot of wilderness making it quite difficult for any army from the outside to come to the rescue (especially when the Molthune army wouldn’t be very welcome because they are the very thing Nirmathans have fought against for years now.

Unluckily Impiltur doesn’t fit that description very well. Of course, there’s wilderness, but the Impilturan military is used to react quickly to threats by, let’s say a hobgoblin threat, so I feel that resistance would be much more organized and decisive than we find it in the AP. Luckily, there’s a region nearby that seem to fit the Nirmathan background pretty well. I speak, of course about the Great Dale, a region that has a lot of wilderness, is largely uncivilized, and as an added bonus, is near to the Giantspire mountains, where we know from the source books that at least one big hobgoblin army is being built in secret. So while, unlike Molthune in the original AP, Impiltur will still have an important part to play, I decided to start out in the Great Dale and build my campaign from there. At least that’s the modified plan for now.