Today we’re joined by GM Phelanar to talk to him about his game Forgotten Sagas of the 13th Age, which is relatively fresh but off to a great start. His group uses Google hangouts and Roll20 to play their games exclusively online. They use the new system 13th Age and the game sounds like an absolute blast, be sure to check out the interview and his campaign!
First off, feel free to tell us about the person behind the GM screen. Where are you from? What do you do both aside from gaming? Alter Ego’s? Wife and kids? Where can we stalk you on the internet? Let us know if you feel so inclined!
My name is Aaron and my day job is a Technical Editor and Research Assistant for a government contractor. But geekdom is where my heart really lies. I’m @wolfsamurai on Twitter, I write for RPGMusings.com and TheNerderyPublic.com, and I’m one of the hosts on the tabletop gaming podcast Across A Table Madly.
Tell us about Forgotten Sagas of the 13th Age in a nutshell. How did it come to be and how long has the campaign been going on?
This campaign came about pretty simply. I had a game that I really think is awesome (13th Age) and a bunch of people who aren’t local to me that I wanted to game with. It was in the planning/chargen stage for a few weeks and we’ve actually been playing for about 2 months now.
How regularly do you play, and where do you play? (If you play online, do you use any certain tools to accomplish your gaming such as Google hangouts, roll20, etc.)
We play online using Google Hangouts, doing a live broadcast every couple of weeks, usually. We started off using Tabletop Forge as our virtual tabletop, but then switched over to Roll20. We also use Dropbox to help keep character sheets and cheatsheets for everybody and I use Google Drive to help me organize my image files like maps and tokens.
Congrats on being our first ever 13th Age CotM! How do you like the system and what do you find to be its strong points?
The system is absolutely brilliant. For me, it brings a lot of the things I really enjoy about traditional fantasy gaming and infuses them with some new and really useful ideas that you often see in more indie gaming. The best part about it is the way they handle skills, where you don’t have individual skills to choose from, but you have Backgrounds that encompass a wide range of skills and experiences that your character might have.
What about its weak points? How would you say it compares to something like D&D?
For the weak points, I think that Icons are interesting, but sometimes really difficult for players to wrap their minds around how to use them. Backgrounds, as awesome as they are, also trip players up a little bit until they adapt (at which point they’re as natural as breathing). I think that 13th Age is going to be very familiar to people who have played D&D before, especially 3rd and 4th Editions, but adds enough new and unique ideas that it’ll be fresh and fun.
Aside from 13th Age, I’m sure you play other systems too, which ones do you play most?
It’s true, I do try to play a lot of other game systems as well. The games I’ve played most recently have been the D&D Next playtest, Marvel Heroic Roleplay, Shadowrun, and Dungeon World.
How did you get into tabletop gaming?
Through video games. More specifically, the Shadowrun game for the SNES. I loved the game and the world so much that I wanted to know more. I went from there to the novels, but that wasn’t enough so soon enough I had some of the RPG books to read and I’ve not stopped since.
Are you new to Obsidian Portal? If so, what brought you to the site?
I’ve actually been around for just over 3 years now.
I’ve noticed that your adventure logs are very extensive and detailed, you’ve also got video recaps of the entire session up there. That’s really great! Do you do all the writing/editing work on these?
The video recaps are an automated part of the Google Hangouts we use, so I sadly can’t claim a lot of credit there, aside from getting my players all on board and then embedding them here on Obsidian Portal. The majority of the writing, adventure logs or otherwise, is done by me though.
If you had to pick just one thing, what would you say Obsidian Portal helps you with the most? Do your players get involved on the wiki too?
More than anything, Obsidian Portal helps me keep the game and the ideas I have for it very firmly organized and all in one place. I do most of my session and long term planning right from the site. The players haven’t gotten heavily involved with the wiki, but they do regularly reference it and appreciate that they can catch up on the campaign or learn more at any time.
What would you say the single biggest highlight from your game has been so far?
The party was trying to arrange a distraction in a dive bar so the rogue could sneak into the back. The bard swung the gnome barbarian around by her arms and hit 3 bar patrons. With two critical hits.
Since you do game online, do you feel that this form of gaming detracts from any of the more conventional aspects of tabletop hobbies? Do you find it to be better, worse, or otherwise?
I don’t think it detracts at all. There are definite advantages and disadvantages to both playing online and playing together in meatspace. For me, the ability to game with people regularly I’d never otherwise get to play with vastly outweighs any negatives it has.
Okay, before we get out of here, give us some of your best GM’ing pearls of wisdom.
More than anything, the most important thing to remember as a GM is that if you and your players are having fun, you are Doing It Right. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
That’s it for this month everybody, be sure to send me your nominations for next month’s highlighted campaign. You can reach me via twitter at @ObsidianPortal or @DreadGazeebo and there’s always email too. Shoot me one at jerry (at) obsidianportal (dot) com.