Blog Archives

1
May

Obsidian Portal Campaign of the Month May 2022: Revenge on the Kraken’s Bane

A ship has been seized under mutiny, the captain murdered, and the ship has disappeared. The captain’s lover seeks revenge and wishes to recover the ship. Was it mentioned that this lover is Lord Ardragon of the Moonsea, one of the best Zhentarim agents? Thus begins Revenge on the Kraken’s Bane, a very different pirate adventure using 5E! After all, how many pirate ships have a ball gag in the skull’s mouth? Read on to learn more about GM AggieBear90 and party’s adventures on the high seas!

I have to start by asking where did the concept of this game come from? I love the double entendres, the wordplay is excellent, and I just think this would be a blast to play in!

So, the story actually stems from the backstory from my very first D&D 5e character – Barkus Esteme. I am story builder so he has a very rich backstory. As I played him through to lvl 20 I just started feeling like there was more story to be told. And that is where Revenge on the Kraken’s Bane comes from. I’ll make sure to add Barkus’ backstory (which is currently in a word doc) to the portal if you are interested in finding out more. Long story short, the ship (The Kraken’s Bane) he served on was stolen during a mutiny and Barkus is motivated to get it back. Mysteries are uncovered and he needs to get a crew of pirates to help him get it back. I also wanted this to be something a little different, so I invited my best gay friends and made it an all gay pirate adventure. A little cliché but hey…it is all for fun.


Tell us about the person behind the GM screen. Where are you from? Where can we stalk you on the internet? What do you do aside from gaming?

I’m 53 yo and live in Irving, Tx just outside Dallas. I am gay and married to my partner (Patrick) for 22 years. He also plays but not in this campaign. When I am not gaming I will either be working on one of my two businesses (Blue Consulting & Resourcing – Instructional Design Consulting; Monkey Mind Tabletop – We organize and run D&D events at game shops and local conventions). Beyond that, I also have a degree in Geology so you might find me out doing rock hounding and fossil hunting. I also love college football (specifically Texas A&M Univ Aggies) so in the fall I am normally watching games all day.

Me on the internet:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/curtisg1
Twitter: @AggieBear90
Instagram: aggiebear90

I also have 2 D&D Adventurers League modules on DMs Guild:
CCC-MMT 01-01: Secrets of Imaginary Friends
CCC-MMT 01-05: Secrets of the Cure

Monkey Mind Tabletop on the internet:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/monkeymindtabletop
Instagram: monkeymindtabletop


You mention you found your calling with D&D 5E- What do you like about it? Are there any things you dislike about it?

I actually started playing with 1st ed when I was a teenager. I played through 2, 3 and 3.5 but totally skipped 4. I went on a long hiatus as many adults do but started playing 3.5 again just before 5th came out. I really liked how streamlined 5th was. It was so much easier to teach to new players. As an educator I really liked that. I also like how flexible it is. The rules are there as guidelines but a lot of the rest is just for the DM to kind of flex with. I think for some people that flexibility is a bit challenging though. There isn’t really anything that I dislike but there are a few additions that I would like to see. More development around larger scale combat, guidance on crafting, more social interactions and downtime. Some of these things are very specific to particular ways to play, but they are things that I have struggled with in game development. I often incorporate 3rd party content when I am looking for solutions…which may be the reason that WotC doesn’t officially come out with guidance on it.


You use Foundry, Discord, Obsidian Portal, and Syrinscape- tell us how those tools interact for you and your group.

We use Foundry as our VTT. Since we have been playing virtually during the pandemic. We decided to continue to play virtually be because we are all spread out around the DFW metroplex and it was just easier. I transitioned from Roll20 because I found the tools in Foundry to be much more useful and I could utilize the content in D&D Beyond easily. With a few useful plugins you can import content and rolls pretty easily on the fly. Because we were telling a story I wanted a place to capture everything so we could all see it. Obsidian Portal is a great tool for that. I make sure that my players all know that this story is a group collaboration. They totally bought in. You may notice that each week one of the players gives the recap from their point of view. We also use the Wiki extensively and I use it to keep notes on the game that only I can see. Discord has been a life saver. Since we aren’t playing in person we miss some of the face to face interaction so we use the Discord audio during game but we also have a channel specifically for chatting. We check in to see how eveyrone’s days are going, we share news and just general BS. It is a good way to keep in contact with everyone. We use Syrinscape to provide a little ambiance. Usually it is just thematic background sounds. I use Syrinscape much more prominently in my Curse of Strahd game. I’ll also point out that I use Microsoft OneNote to organize ideas. It is a great tool to help me get thoughts down on “paper” and flesh out things ahead of time.


How regularly do you play? You say that you are playing remotely due to Covid- are there plans to go back to in person?

I am currently running two campaigns on alternating Tuesdays. So we play every other week. On the other weeks I have a Curse of Strahd game that I am running (also has a page on Obsidian Portal). We started this campaign during Covid and we did discuss starting to meet in person but decided that it was easier to continue online since we are so spread out.


How did your group meet, and how long have you been together?

Most of the players I actually met playing D&D Adventurers League at a local game shop that I DM at (Common Ground Games – Dallas). Most of the players were people who had just signed up to play in one of my games. I am really drawn to players who really lean into the roleplay aspect. All of these players are exceptional at roleplay. They are also all LGBTQ. Some I have known for about 4 years but a few of them I didn’t meet in person until after Covid was dying down and we had a little summer pool party. This particular campaign has been running for about 19 months (so we are over a year and half).


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?

Obsidian Portal helps us to recall what has happened over the adventure and keep organized. This story is planned to eventually get the characters to lvl 20…so there is a lot going on. Players can always go back in and remember NPCs, who they are and what they know about them. That is helpful. And yes, my players are active contributors to the log and the wiki. As mentioned above, each week I have them roll to see who will be responsible for the recap in the Adventure Log and they provide me the story through the character’s eyes. It has been really amusing.

Where do you draw inspiration from when preparing your game?

Mostly from Barkus’ backstory, but I have also looped in interactions with Barkus’ campaign party (Fedhiin Taloth) who make cameos. I also did a lot of research on the Forgotten Realms Moonsea/Sea of Fallen Stars region (our setting) for backstory and hooks. I also did lots of research on pirate culture to kind of get an idea of what life on the sea might be like and looped some aspects of that research into story development.


How much time do you usually take to prepare for a session?

I tend to binge prepare. I may spend hours on a weekend prepping for games week in advance and then will just spend an hour or so the day of. I would say that if you averaged it all out I probably spend 2-3 hours a week prepping for each game.


Aside from DnD I’m sure you have played other systems too, what are some others you enjoy?

So, the funny thing is that I haven’t really. I have played a little Monster of the Week and Powered by the Apocalypse. I do want to learn to play other systems but I am a “show me how” kind of person and I just haven’t found people to teach me the other systems as of yet. I have done a lot of reading in the Vampire: The Masquerade core rules and am fascinated by that system. I actually have used the relationship building scheme in it to map relationships in my D&D games. I have also looked into Thirsty Sword Lesbians and Star Wars, but once again I haven’t had any one to teach me how to play.


What would you say has been the best moment your table has had thus far in your game?

Gosh, this is such a hard question. There have been lots of great moments. We have had moments when we have laughed until we can’t talk, we have had players cry, we have had epic battles and entire sessions where not a single dice has been rolled. But I think the best moment was when the adventurers were given a ship by their patron. They were so excited that they immediately started thinking of a name (The Vicious Seaward), designing the figure head, designing the flag, even designing the crew uniforms. They wanted to identify who got which room on the ship and who would play what role. It was a pretty exciting moment. Many of the players even started creating NPC crew members (many are on the portal)


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

– Go with the flow. Telling a good story is a collaboration between the DM and the players. You provide the scaffolding but the characters really drive the progression.
– Don’t get hung up on the rules as written. If you don’t know the rule just wing it. Most players will understand.
– DMs are players too…you are allowed to have fun.

Time to let our daring adventures return to the open sea. Don’t forget to head on over the the OP forums to nominate your favorite campaigns for our next Campaign of the Month!

Until next time!

4
Apr

OBSIDIAN PORTAL CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR 2021

Congratulations to our COTY 2021 winner:
HEROES AS A SERVICE
GM: Nuadaria (FEB 2021)

and to our runner up:
GAXIM PLAGUE
GM: Frak_Lou_Elmo (JAN 2021)

 


 

FIRST PRIZE includes:

– Digital copies of both Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding and Kobold Guide to Plots and Campaigns from *Kobold Press*,

– Digital copies of both Starfinder and Pathfinder Second Edition Beginner Boxes and/or Core Rulebooks from *Paizo*,

– Physical Copies of Traveller Core Rulebook Update 2022, and Paranoia Starter Set from *Mongoose Publishing*,

– 1 Year Ascendant Membership from *Obsidian Portal*




RUNNER UP PRIZE includes:

– Physical Copy of Seas of Thieves Starter Set from *Mongoose Publishing*,

– 1 Year Ascendant Membership from *Obsidian Portal*.




ENTRY PRIZES

Congratulations to all other campaigns entered into the draw. Each GM will receive free Ascendancy time from Obsidian Portal and will be contacted separately.

A special thanks to our Prize Sponsors!


1
Dec

Obsidian Portal Campaign of the Month December 2021- “Le Sang versé d’Occitanie” (The Spilled Blood of Occitania)

Bonjour, and welcome to The World of Darkness within December’s Campaign of the Month, “Le Sang versé d’Occitanie” (The Spilled Blood of Occitania) by Orion_JdR. Set in the south of France, this supernatural, dual-campaign features a GM running for two rival groups of players — a Werewolf pack and a Vampire coterie — who discover each other’s blood-stained activities within a region full of history and mystery. Read on to discover how it is done in this month’s interview. And for those of you who only spent one point on your real-life language skills, click here for an English translation of the campaign.
———-

Before we ask about “The Spilled Blood of Occitania” we would like to know more about you and your players. Who are you and how did you meet?

Of course, with pleasure! I am Orion, a french role-player and blogger, and I have been a game master for thirty years. Half of my players are close friends, while the other half are friends I met on social media during the lockdown and had good feelings with – and I don’t regret it!

What was the inspiration for your campaign and what kinds of stories do you want to tell?

The Spilled Blood of Occitania is an original creation inspired by (and sometimes identical to) pretty old scenarii from World of Darkness or Ars Magica. Through this campaign, I wanted to reach my players and make them live adventures in a universe close to us (contemporary France) yet extraordinary : Europe destiny, nothing less. Thus, the world we believe we know is full of beauties (landscapes, Cathar history, the magnificent Toulouse), dangers (pollution, crime, corrupted politicians) and mysteries (history of France, magicians alliances, etc…).

The concept of this creation is to have two competing campaigns : a Werewolf Pack with opposite objectives to a Coterie of Vampires, in the same area and the same temporality. Each group (Wolves and Vampires) is aware of the other group’s progression via Obsidian Portal. Thus, the players find out more than what their characters do, and understand the general pattern while the characters can only get small parts of it.

The campaign is set in the World of Darkness in France and includes vampires, werewolves, mages, and more. It is rich with information. How do you stay organized with so much material? And how does your gaming group use apps like Discord and the Miro whiteboard to help

Obsidian Portal is helping us a lot to organize all of this stuff. Through links to the characters, labels assigned to each page, a player willing to find a vampire in Toulouse or a magician living during the Middle Ages will easily sort and find what he needs. I also use colors and icons a lot (tribes, packs icon, etc.) as a visual aid for players.

To conceive the campaign, I use OneNote. During games, we use Discord with a bot for dice rolls, and Miro to display characters sheets, game rules and pictures. And after each game, we publish an adventure log to describe what happened on Obsidian Portal: it can give ideas to the players and game masters from other role-playing gaming tabletops, but above all, it gives to the players from the other group (Wolves or Vampires) the possibility to be up-to-date with the general pattern (and see what the other players have discovered).

The writing in your Adventure Logs (Stories of the Ages) is exceptional and really adds style to the story. Who does the writing in your gaming group and how much time do they spend on it?

Yes, I am really grateful to the authors of these adventure logs, and always give them credit at the beginning of the texts. Moreover, they get extra bonus Willpower points for their characters as a thank-you gift to their efforts and the quality of their texts. In each group, a player volunteers (always the same in the werewolf pack, and in turn for the vampires) and spends several evenings writing a high-quality adventure log from simple note-taking. The aim is to publish it before the next game, to help us recall what happened last.

Your Obsidian Portal pages are very beautiful and easy to navigate. Do you have any advice to share about designing websites for games?

I think you need to put yourself into the skin of a player reading: he wants a simple, good-looking website where he can easily find the information. I took inspiration from the most beautiful campaigns I found on Obsidian Portal to create The Spilled Blood of Occitania, for I am not a graphist nor a web-designer myself. The result is a clean, colorful campaign, with a clear visual identity for each group, vampire, werewolf, etc.

You have several beautiful campaigns on Obsidian Portal — Shadowrun, Pathfinder, Legend of the Five Rings, and World of Darkness. What is your favorite game system and why?

The game system I prefer between these four campaigns is the one from Legend of the Five Rings, for it is epic and light at the same time, very close to the game’s universe. Lately, I have resumed the campaign “Les Fragments du Vide” (The Void’s Fragments) on Obsidian Portal (https://lesfragmentsduvide.obsidianportal.com/), which was stopped due to the pandemic. My players are really excited and have a lot of ideas for the next games – you’ll be able to read it on Obsidian Portal!

What have been the most interesting or challenging moments within “The Spilled Blood of Occitania” so far?

The Werewolves players offered me beautiful roleplay scenes, when their Pack had to ally with the Pack from Narbonne despite the fact that they hated each other at first, or when they stole a thousand years old fetish to use it instead of giving it to the arrogant Silver Teeth pack.

The Vampires players, on the second hand, are always surprising me and it is not simple to anticipate where they will lead the story. I really like it, as it is always an adventure for me to master them. Happily, I managed to schedule unexpected twists to get my revenge!

What part of your campaign or your Obsidian Portal pages are you most proud of?

I am really proud of the adventure logs, those are very pleasant texts to read. I am also proud of the “Characters” webpage, for it is functional and pretty nice to browse, just as I wanted.

What parts of your game do your players enjoy most?

Every game starts with a reading of a small introduction, which describes a small part of the general pattern that the characters ignore, but that enlightens the players about the entire story. I also think that they like to meet eccentric non-player characters. I am giving my best in those encounters…

Can you give us any hints about the future of the campaign without giving too much of the story away? Or, do you have other, upcoming projects?

Some hints? You mean, like the daunting battle of the Werewolves against the Wyrm’s Forces? Or the merciless fight of the Vampires against Sabbat? Oops… No spoilers!

Otherwise, in addition to Les Fragments du Vide (L5R 4e) resuming, I have other projects for campaigns which will be logged on Obsidian Portal, but it is too early to tell you more yet. Stay tuned!

Finally, Obsidian Portal always wants to know if you have any advice to share about gaming or being creative?

Giving advice is the aim of my blog (Autour d’Orion: http://orionjdr.fr), but if there is only one to keep, it would be this one: be welcoming to new players. They are the future of roleplaying games, we need to attract them and fulfill their desires, even if we are not used to those kinds of desires.

Thank you very much for these questions and for the Campaign of the Month Award! I am really pleased and touched, especially by the fact that you granted the award to a non-english campaign, this is even more impressive. See you soon on Obsidian Portal!

As we bid bonne soirée to Occitania and thank you to Orion and the players, the Campaign of the Month Committee would also like to thank everyone on Obsidian Portal for sharing their creativity throughout 2021. Be certain to check back often on the blog, forums, and Discord for more wonderful campaigns like this one, news about voting for Campaign of the Year, and to nominate campaigns that you love (especially your own!) for consideration.

Translation from French by @Kapryss (thanks to her)

19
May

Cross-Classing to Game Publisher — Group Beta Games

Hail, fellow Obsidian Portal GM’s and Players! My name is Steve, also known as Jynx001, and for several years now I’ve been a Content Creator, Support Sorcerer, and Maker of Many Things here on OP. I’m very happy to announce that I’m taking my next level in the Game Publisher class as I begin the quest of launching “Group Beta Games!”

25
Jan

Vote for Campaign of the Year – 2019!

Make Your Voice Heard

It’s the beginning of a new year, so you know what that means! That’s right, it’s time to take a long, nostalgic look back at all of the featured campaigns that came before, and pick our collective favorite! “But wait” I hear you say, “Isn’t this 2021? Why are we looking at the campaigns for 2019 when we should be looking at those for 2020?”.

While we could make a joke (or two, or a thousand) about how rough of a year 2020 was, the truth is that we need to set right a certain wrong before we can get to 2020’s featured campaigns. You might not have noticed (and frankly, who could blame you), but we never got to crown our 2019 Campaign of the Year – and that’s just not right! This being the case, the Selection Committee has decided that the best way to give 2019’s contenders their due recognition is to give them the distinct CotY vote they should have received (instead of a ‘double header’ style vote like we did the last time we got behind). Having said all of that, let’s take a moment to look back at 2019’s featured campaigns!

18
Jan

Savage Worlds Campaign Spotlight Contest

CONTEST COMPLETE! – WINNER: “The Color of Night” by The_CDM – CONGRATULATIONS AND THANKS TO ALL FOR PLAYING!

Salutations, Savage World-builders! As we build up to our Campaign of the Year voting events, which will occur in the next few weeks, we thought we might get everyone in the voting mood with a special contest. We’ve chosen 5 Savage Worlds campaigns and will post about them on our Facebook and Twitter pages at Noon (Eastern). Vote for your favorites by sharing or re-tweeting the posts containing the campaign(s) you like best. The post with the most shares/re-tweets wins!

Pinnacle Entertainment Group, publishers of the Savage Worlds system has graciously donated a $25 store coupon as a prize for the winning campaign! Huzzah!

Award Winning!

Gold ENnie for Best Website 09'-11'


Silver ENnie for Best Website, Best Podcast 2012-2013
Petrified Articles
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