12
Jun

Obsidian Portal Campaign of the Month June 2017 – The Forsite Irregulars

Hello and welcome intrepid adventurer! Looking to sell a bit of that heroism for coin I take it? Good! Because I do believe I have just the job for you. The patron is a little… elusive, but the go-between guy is great, and the pay is good. You’re not afraid of Cutpurse Alley right? Excellent! That’s exactly the sort of attitude you need if you plan on joining The Forsite Irregulars – June’s Campaign of the Month! So grab your miniature and come along as we talk to TheOldSchoolDM, the world builder (figuratively AND literally) behind this fantastical campaign.

First and foremost, please tell us a bit about you. Where are you from? What do you do aside from gaming? Alter Egos? Where can we stalk you on the internet? Let us know if you feel so inclined!

My gaming persona is the Old School DM, you can follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook  as @oldschooldm.  You can find more about me and my gaming legacy from an interview on Geekdad. I chose Obsidian Portal to hold my campaign journal because it was friendly to the photo heavy posts I wanted to do, and provided features that were customized for role-playing games.

AgüeroMatt (Agüero):

My gaming persona is Garcity and I can be found on Twitter/Instagram as @Garcity. I’m from all over the place, but I’ll always call San Francisco my home. Aside from gaming, I enjoy illustrating and working on my graphic novel. My interests are varied, but gaming is where it’s at for me!

Paul Murphy:

I’m an unrepentant child of the 1980s, who grew up playing D&D and hacking on early personal computers, alongside so many folks of my generation. Twenty years ago, I moved from New England to Berkeley to attend graduate school at UC Berkeley, and accidentally found a home. When I’m not gaming or working on a computer project, you might find me reading classic mysteries and science fiction, or listening to jazz records from the 1920s.

Fill us in on your gaming “backstory”. How and when did you get into RPGs? What systems have you played, or not played? At what point did you know that this was the hobby for you?

You can read my backstory on the GeekDad link provided above. I fell in love with the blue-book in the late 1970s, then AD&D – then married and had a family – and then resumed with 4th ed and now 5th.

AgüeroMatt (Agüero):

I wanted to play D&D ever since I saw this episode of Dexter’s Laboratory. And, growing up pretend playing (or LARPing) as a child, this seemed like the logical step. It wasn’t until I met Randy that I was properly introduced to D&D. From that point on, the bar was set pretty high.

Paul Murphy:

I discovered D&D in 7th grade, in 1984, simply because it was a giant fad that everyone was doing. Quickly, I became fascinated with it, because it was a hobby that seemed custom-made for me, as a person with a serious physical disability (cerebral palsy) that obligates me to spend my time in a wheelchair, but who is also someone who has a love for storytelling, literature, film, and history. I spent my teen years playing with a superb group of adults in New England, who became friends and mentors in all things geeky. Besides D&D, I have played lots of GURPS, and all the games associated with Chaosium, especially RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu.

 

I didn’t really know this was the hobby for me until I gave it up for twenty years. When I played in my first session in California, at the venerable age of 42, I immediately felt as though no time had passed, and overnight  I had a new stack of game books and was playing two or three nights a week.

Can you give us a brief rundown of The Forsite Irregulars campaign? How long has it been going on, and what got the ball rolling? How regularly do you play?

It began late summer 2012 with the Scions of Punjar, blogged over on the Goodman Game’s site. Nominally we run weekly, but sometimes monthly. I GMed for my adult daughter and her friends. We took a 18 month or so break while my Daughter married her boyfriend (who was part of the group.) As to the story of the game, you can start reading the story (with lots of pictures!) here on Obsidian Portal re-directed from the my domain oldschooldm.com

Paul Murphy:

I don’t play in Randy’s regular campaign. I met him two years ago, when the nice people at our wonderful game store, Games of Berkeley, asked me if, since I was already playing in two RPG campaigns at the store, I would be signing up for D&D. I had heard a lot about the new edition of D&D, and wanted to have an informed opinion on it, so I said yes. Two weeks later, I walked into a room with the most elaborate miniatures and terrain I had ever seen, and this sort of wizard fellow tinkering with it. I almost walked right out again, feeling that no middle-aged man ought to be playing with toy soldiers. Fortunately, I got over this foolish idea, and just remembered how D&D campaigns used to start 30 years ago: I asked the other players what kind of characters they already had, and what the party needed. Fifteen minutes later, we had my cleric, Brother Darvon.

How about sources of inspiration? Did you have any particular muse(s) when drawing up plans for the campaign?

We started just playing some oldschool-style adventures from Goodman Games, and I looked closely at player histories in order to choose what adventures to adapt. The key inspiration for the story arc came from my daughter’s character’s backstory: I decided that Naruto-style titans (gargantuan creatures) were imprisoned in living humanoids after a great conflict centuries ago. I made a comic about the portion of the session where the party learned that their thief was one of these. There is also a short video I made with some effects for the concluding pages.

 

I draw heavily from the skilled module publishers, television fantasy, SF, and some anime.

AgüeroMatt (Agüero):

Artistically, I was inspired by Alphonse Mucha, famed illustrator. His designs served as the primary template for which these character designs were made. As for my character, at the time I was largely influenced by the characters Boba Fett and Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones. I’ve always favored lancers as warriors, so I chose that!

EdrydEfren (Edryd):

For Edryd I started off almost entirely ripping off Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files, but I ended up adding my own elements before I started playing. Now I’d say he’s Dresden, with a touch of Iron Man and basically Harry Potter’s Horcruxes…

Paul Murphy:

I have always felt free to draw inspiration from anywhere. Some characters are shameless ripoffs of classic movie icons: I happily played a D&D Rogue who was an Errol Flynn swashbuckler, for instance. I have also done fictional versions of real people who fascinate me: I have a Call of Cthulhu investigator who I imagine as being like the poet W.H. Auden. Another wonderful trick is to take the personality of a someone you actually know and throw them into a fantastic situation. For my first character with Randy, I drew the personality of my cleric from several eager young seminary students that I had met while attending events at Berkeley’s religious school, the Graduate Theological Union! Nothing is off limits.

If you had to estimate, roughly how far through the campaign are you at this point? Are there any spoiler-free teasers can you give us?

How long it will run is up to the players, we could wrap in 6 months, or 18, or more. I came up with a device to “tune” the length, by allowing them to play one of a set of concurrent parallel stories (as ally characters.) The story is constantly escalating. But where could you possibly go from sundering the connection to the Feywild?

 

I can tell you that it may well end in a Battle Royale with several Gargantuan creatures – depending on the PC’s actions.

Your adventure log showcases some pretty extensive (not to mention awesome!) usage of miniatures, papercraft and other 3D terrain building to bring the game to life. How involved of a process is setting all of that up? Maintaining it? What sort of time is invested in terrain from one session to the next?

I try to build pieces I can reuse, and adapt them for fold-flat storage. I typically spend 8 or so hours prepping for a session – if there’s something I need to make, I try to use it for multiple sessions. In my case, this is a labor of love – there’s no rationally justifying it.

For those out there who find themselves inspired by your campaign, how might they go about getting started in their own papercraft and terrain construction? Do you have any specific recommendations regarding materials, guides, communities or the like?

Anyone interested in paper terrain/minis should visit cardboard-warriors.proboards.com. It’s a great community of builders and designers. There are many free get-started tutorials available there and online. Davesgames.net has a great free guide.

Shute StumpsnifferPaloma (Shute Stumpsniffer):

If you want to do papercraft and don’t have the cash for one of those craft cutter machines (aka mini plotter with a knife on it), instead grab yourself an X-acto #2 knife, steel ruler, and self-healing cutting mat at your local art store or hardware store. Learn how to use the two in tandem to cut super straight lines. So much better than scissors!

Paul Murphy:

I have a lousy dexterity and can’t draw a straight line. Randy’s style of DMing would never work for me. But I have lots of skills I can contribute to his game from the player side. The important thing is to realize that there are many worthwhile ways to play, and that your style is meant to be your own. If the beauty of Randy’s work inspires you, that’s awesome, but let it inspire you to create your own style, that comes out of the fullness of your own creative intelligence. The terrain and figures are the expression of artistry and passion, but they are not the game itself. The play’s the thing!

Release the Kraken

How long have you been using Obsidian Portal? What brought you to the site and what keeps you coming back? Do you have a favorite feature, or one you would like to see that isn’t available now?

First post was for our April 13th 2013 session – over 4 years ago! I was drawn to the site as a provider-neutral home for my photo blog – with a focus on my kind of gaming. I like being able to integrate audio, video, and photos in my play diary. I’ve been agitating for SEO tools for a long time – who doesn’t want their campaign to be ranked higher on Google? It’s win-win for OP as well.

Paul Murphy:

I am simply astonished by Obsidian Portal and all the other tech tools that have done so much to facilitate our stubbornly analog hobby. Remember, that like Rip Van Winkle, I fell asleep 20+ years ago in the gaming world of 1200 baud modems and mimeoographed fanzines! All of this is a wonder-world to me.

What would you say the single biggest highlight from the game has been so far?

I’ll let my players answer that.

NostalgioIvan (Nostalgio):

The greatest achievements that I could hope to acquire within the story is not unlike the ongoing comradery that I share with my friends as we journey from one campaign to the next. If there are any chances of antagonistic characters our group faces turning from friend to foe, I want to take that chance. More specifically in the case of the ghost of the Dev’shir sister, Dugesia. The chilling grandeur of the family tree inside the crypt echoing with screams was an amazing set piece that set us on the path of unravelling her tragic death. Though we couldn’t undo what had been done, having the group help her spirit find peace left a lasting impression and was a key moment in unveiling the Dev’shir’s dark past.

AgüeroMatt (Agüero):

For me, the highlight came when I “retired” one character and introduced another. At the time, I was playing a swordsman named “Tobin” whom I left to finish his tale of revenge. At the same time, I got a grand introduction to my new character, Aguero, who arrived via airship. From there, it was an epic fight with dragons!

EdrydEfren (Edryd):

The finale of the Scions of Punjar has stuck in my mind. Specifically during the assault when there was a large force of enemies and even a dragon, then Agüero (new character by an old player) came riding an aircraft to save the day! This one was particularly memorable since we were running long, it was during a work week and not in our usually meeting place, but it’s still one of my favorite moments!

Shute StumpsnifferPaloma (Shute Stumpsniffer):

There’s been so many amazing moments, so I’ll just choose selfishly! A memorable moment for me is when the party was looking for some stuff needed to seal up big baddy Stonefang. On our way into a mountain-side citadel in search of said stuff, there was an orc all done up rainbow-style with a phoenix statue on a roof. My goblin character Shute – having been obsessed with the idea of this god-like rainbow phoenix since before she could remember – unceremoniously ditched everyone so she could go see what was up. Shortly after making it to the orc, Shute was knocked out and became the very pheonix she was hoping to see. As a player this blew my mind, I had no idea it was coming! I had put Shute’s obsession with the rainbow phoenix in her story as a sort of goofy lighthearted element without good explanation. Our awesome DM took a intentionally silly story element like that, fleshed it out, and made it into this epic super-relevant plot point.

Paul Murphy:

In my first campaign with Randy, my cleric received a spell called Spirit Guardians, that allows the priest’s deity to come visit and protect him in battle. I cast this spell in combat, and Randy asked me what Gods I was calling on and what their shimmering spiritual form might look like. Since I had not prepared well for the game, I had no idea that I might have to answer this question. Improvising frantically, I described two brother Gods, avuncular and bearded, wearing T-shirts and jeans, with Midwestern accents, and I named them Dave and Gary. Of course, they were meant to be Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, the two departed creators of D&D. It was a great spontaneous moment, when the spirits of D&D visited our game, and people have made lots of joking references to it since then. Little bits of silliness like that are what I remember about games years afterward.

 

But, the best thing has been to play with those wonderful little toy soldiers and remember what it’s like to be twelve years old again. You can’t put a price on that

DMScreen1

Okay, before we get out of here, give us some of your best GMing pearls of wisdom?

Find a way to weave your PC stories back into the narrative, even if you’re just stringing together other author’s adventures.

Shute StumpsnifferPaloma (Shute Stumpsniffer):

From the perspective of the player – put something ridiculous and poorly explained in your backstory and see what the DM does with it, ha!

Paul Murphy:

Always remember, a game is really a chance for friends to visit with each other and to have a particular kind of conversation. Your attention should be focused on the people at the table, and not on rules or preconceptions about good or serious play. You should never be afraid to just sit and listen to other people talk, and be aware that you are making a contribution simply by listening and supporting the other players.

Well folks, unfortunately this is where the ride stops – at least in terms of this blog post – but don’t worry, we’ll be back with another great campaign before you know it. In the meantime, keep those nominations coming. Take care.

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