Obsidian Portal Campaign of the Month February 2021 – Heroes as a Service

Bellis has always seemed quaint enough.. Sure it’s got its problems, but for the most part the folk are content to farm and harvest lumber. I mean, how many villainous types could possibly want to bother them? How many dilemmas could these simple people find themselves embroiled in? As it turns out, more than you’d think. Fortunately for them, they have Heroes as a Service – February’s Campaign of the Month! We’d best get a move on if we’re going to catch up to GM nuadaria before it’s too late.

First off, feel free to tell us about the person behind the GM screen. Where are you from? What do you do aside from gaming? Alter Egos? Wife and kids? Where can we stalk you on the internet? Let us know if you feel so inclined!


Behind the screen, I am a husband and father of two living in southwest Missouri. Outside of gaming I enjoy the outdoors and am an avid rock climber. I have been playing TTRPGs for twenty years or so at this point and enjoy learning new systems and trying to incorporate unique mechanics into my overall style of DMing.

Tell us about Heroes as a Service in a nutshell. How did it come to be and how long has the campaign been going on?

HaaS is a new campaign, we just had our first session back at the start of November but the core of our group has been playing together for close to a decade at this point. Most of the players in this game came over from a recently finished long running game where we completed Curse of the Crimson Throne. We collectively decided to move to Pathfinder second edition and brought in a couple new players including my teenage son.

Your campaign has such a unique “arcade game” graphic style. What inspired that, and in particular, how did you come about introducing the moving images on to the landing page? Not many campaigns have this feature, so any tips for creating it might be inspirational to others.

The style developed organically between one of the players and me as we set about customizing the portal. Several of the folks in this group work in IT and we have all been gamers for decades so it seemed a natural fit. As for the chosen image itself, this game started in a small riverside village in a remote forest. As the campaign grows I have hopes of actually altering the style to fit the current theme of the game, time permitting.

How often does your group meet and play? Describe your typical game session setup? Have you had to make any changes due to the current Pandemic?

We play once a week on Thursdays and luckily for us the pandemic had next to no impact as we have been playing remotely for years at this point. We use roll20 and discord for our sessions as well as syrinscape for some audio add ins so our setup is generally relaxing in our own homes.

With regard to the chosen Game System, what made you choose Pathfinder and why do you like it? How did you find the change to Second Edition?

When we formed as a group, we started in D&D 4e and did not like it very much, so we converted the module we were playing to Pathfinder and finished it there. As most of us were TTRPG players returning after a long absence from the space, we found the 3.5 style rules more to our liking. After years of playing in that system and with the conclusion of our previous long running game we chose to upgrade as it were and moved to 2e with the launch of this campaign.

Thus far the transition has been pretty smooth, 2e has fewer rules as a whole and the 3 action economy really streamlines things. We are certainly still learning as a group though, and it is definitely not without some growing pains, mostly the occasional lack of something we were all used to in 1e. That fortunately is where house rules come in!

We note that in your map of Bellis, you make good use of Obsidian Portal’s interactive mapping system, linking points on the map to details in the Wiki. How useful is this to you, and is it of equal use to your players?

I like to think it helps my players, perhaps especially my wife who has become our official chronicler and writes all of our adventure logs for us. I am hoping that as the campaign grows, our entire site including the maps and wiki will continue to evolve and develop.

There are some great design features in your Wiki, like unique fonts, title bars, and dropdown lists with links. Who is responsible for these and how important is style customization to you as a GM?

One of the players in this game helped me settle on the overall style for the site as well contributed heavily to the CSS and images used. Going forward I am sure that this will continue to be a collaborative effort as we are both developers as well as former co-workers so we make a great team and are always looking for something to tinker into oblivion.

How much time do you usually spend preparing your game session? Describe a typical session.

I tend to prep in large chunks (3-4 sessions at once) favoring an outlining style rather than specific plans as it were. I will come up with something that I would like to have happen and then set about figuring out ways to entice my players to go when and where I would like them to. When they inevitably do something I was not thinking of, I stow those plans away for another day and do my best to roll with the punches. I find this method keeps the games feeling more natural and less railroad-y.

How long have you been using Obsidian Portal? What brought you to the site and what keeps bringing you back?

I have been using Obsidian Portal for a little over two years at this point and originally what drew me in was the desire to house the wealth of information that my players’ charters knew but that I did not expect my players to hold on to. The campaign we were running then was set in a major city and had lots of political moving parts to keep track of so OP was a great boon.

For this game though, the real winning point is that our game is homebrew and so I have pushed the onus to my players to keep track of what they know and where they have been since I am totally not making it all up as I go.

If you had to pick just one thing, what would you say Obsidian Portal helps you with the most?

I am huge fan of little intricate details, the voice for a character you haven’t seen in years real time, the smell of a particular room, or the favorite food of an important NPC. OP allows me to keep track of all these details in a simple way so that I can provide consistency even in the middle of the chaos that is a TTRPG session.

What would you say is the biggest highlight of your game so far?

This is a tough question to answer; even though this game has only had a hand full of sessions, there have been some pretty great moments. Thus far, I think my favorite would have to be the discovery of brownies living under a couple of farmhouses on the edge if the town of Bellis and the fact that several of the players are now convinced that they are best friends with the diminutive fey even though they have yet to so much as speak with them.

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

I think the best thing you can do is try different things and figure out what works for you. By that, I mean don’t let anyone tell what the right way to DM is. Be open to new ideas and listen to your gut as much as you listen to your players and their feedback.

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We’d love to stay and peruse this campaign with you some more, but unfortunately our time has come to an end. Be sure to nominate all your favorite campaigns so that they can be considered for a feature post of their own. As always, the CotM Selection Committee needs your help to keep the Campaign of the Month program going strong – so do your part! We will be back soon with another great campaign, BUT before that, we’ll be posting the vote for the 2020 Campaign of the Year! We should have that up on February 14th, so be sure to check back and cast your vote!

Until then, take care and keep the dice rolling.

Award Winning!

Gold ENnie for Best Website 09'-11'

Silver ENnie for Best Website, Best Podcast 2012-2013
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