Tabletop Shenanigans

So, I do a lot of tabletop gaming. I’ve been meeting with the same group for several years now, and we hop through different games. We meet every Thursday via Discord (and occasionally Skype when there are issues), and do whatever game we are running. We are actually coming to the end of our current game/campaign, so I’ve already started thinking up my next character. Also, working on my own game to run when I feel more comfortable trying to tackle being a DM.

Anyways, I felt I’d use this blog post a bit to talk about my games and the characters I used in them thus far. Just case.

Exalted Modern

My first game every with this group was an Exalted campaign. It was also my first Exalted game period, but it was a blast. Exalted is still one of my top systems, and I was fortunate enough to have an amazing DM who really worked with ALL of our characters well. I was super nervous about starting with a new group (social anxiety lol), so I ended up going with a really straight-laced PI. He went by the nickname “Pierce,” since he hated his real name (Peter Sutcliffe, also the name of an actual serial killer).

He was a Solar Exalted, a Twilight Caste, and his Anima was “JTR.” He had a lot of problems he was working through…but he was making progress. A washed up 40 year old PI, who was a former police academy graduate with impeccable aim (that earned him the nickname “Pierce”). His short lived stint as a cop ended when his older brother, a lawyer, got caught up in a case involving a notorious serial killer in the area. They supposedly caught the guy and his brother was to be the prosecution. However, one night, Pierce was caught off guard and knocked unconscious by a mysterious assailant. When he woke, he rushed to his brother’s home only to find him dead, along with the corpses of his child and his pregnant wife. The wife had her stomach slit and the unborn fetus was pinned to the wall with a knife. It…really messed him up. He fell to alcohol and cigarettes. His relationship with his father soured. His college sweetheart, now wife, ended up leaving him. He hit rock bottom. To make matters worse, his mother got cancer and eventually died. It was at that point he realized he couldn’t keep going like that. He got help, got into AA and cleaned up. Got a PI license and went to work trying to help people, trying to push all the horrors behind him. He gave up smoking just near the beginning of the campaign, too, so he carries candy (especially lollipops) with him and has one in his mouth frequently.

It was an AMAZING campaign. I clearly remember my first day of game and my first fight. I aimed for the kneecaps (Pierce aimed to be non-lethal), however, I did not realize the extent of the power of my charms and rolled super well. So…I accidentally shot through two people and killed them, and literally blew the leg off of my target. WHOOPS. But, it definitely had me addicted. Over the course of the story, the serial killer reappeared as an Abyssal! And my older sister ended up joining as my ex-wife, a Lunar. It was all an all a great game. The game sadly had to end early and abruptly, but years later we ran a sorta sequel campaign at a con we were all together at.

Exalted (Gem)

The next game was just a normal Exalted one, run mostly out of Gem. Different DM this time. I was still trying to get myself fine-tuned to the mechanics of Exalted, so I went with another Solar again, but this time, an Eclipse caste. Unlike Pierce, she was purposely an extremely deranged and fun character. Her original concept was a “thief who stole things that were stolen and returned them,” but a lot of that changed over the course of the game, due to the story restrictions.

Umbra the “Shadow Walker,” almost a “secret” thief in Gem. Her partner was a cat named Cait Sith (which originally was never supposed to be clear if he actually talked to her or she was just that crazy, but he ended up getting stats and becoming a pretty prominent NPC later on). Her first appearance was a job she got arrested for so she could break into jail and steal a kidney from a guy that defaulted on his payment. Yeah, she took the whole “stealing” thing really seriously initially. Later on, it became more she started to just take things she liked for herself. Mostly small items, but there were a lot of glaives in there. Her backstory isn’t as dark as Pierce, but not too much happier. She is the daughter of two poor merchants in Gem who found it harder day-by-day to live. They were offered a large sum of money in exchange for their daughter…which they sadly agreed to. So, she was sold into slavery at a young age and abused pretty badly (hence a lot of her mental instabilities). She was finally freed when her master at the time got in trouble with Gem and had his house raided and mostly destroyed. She disguised herself as a noble girl borrowing clothing she found and was able to convince the guards that she should just be allowed to go home. On the streets, she was unsure of what to do when she met Cait Sith and he guided her to her first job. She became a thief for hire, and she exalted one day on her escape from her “rival,” a very strict and powerful guard from Gem (he never came into play in the game sadly).

Some of the best things about her though was at the first meeting with the main party, she asked everyone to do a magic trick (it became her quirk to ask everyone they met). Everyone in the group revealed their Caste/ability to her, but she never revealed anything to them. Most of the game, no one had any idea what Caste she was, though a few were quite sure she was a Solar. The only character she outright revealed herself to was a raccoon Lunar she took on as her student of sorts. She also stole an airship once when told she couldn’t have one of her allies’, so she legit got the Lunar Karyan to go with her and they stole one of the enemies’ ships. It became their homebase. She also hid everything she stole on the ship…under the couch in the captain quarters. No one ever found them. She was basically a cat in so many ways. She also liked to hide and then knock drinks off the table, and her favorite past time was harassing the Sidereal Damson and taking his stuff or stabbing him with a souvenir thorn she picked up.

I made my first custom charm for her, which came in handy a lot, especially when some of the more powerful guys needed help getting stuff that was stolen from them back. It was called “Finders, Keepers,” and was legit just like a pinging in her head that got louder the closer she got to the item. I really didn’t get to play her a whole lot how I intended, but I did have a lot of fun with her. She sorta ended up with a whole city under her power thanks to an artifact she stole, lol. The ending of the game is a bit vague to me…but I do know my intended end for her was to start taking other abandoned children in and creating her own thief network.

Eclipse Phase (Horror Short)

The next campaign was just a really short campaign done to bridge some time. Like, it was two maybe three weeks at most. I didn’t put too much thought into it at first, but I jokingly asked the DM (back to Exalted DM) if I could play a roomba and learned I could so…

I played Garbi, a mimic who took on the appearance of a roomba. He was a super clean freak, and was one of the only initial survivors of the ship that the others ended up on. A nano-virus was taking over, and Garbi was actually immune to it (I found out later), and it could be “cleansed” through electric shock (and yes, I found that out exactly how you think I did). He basically acted the part of a roomba for most of the campaign until the characters realized the nanobots were on him, too. Fearing what might happen, they tried to trap him, which is when I revealed that I was a mimic by pulling out a plasma knife and waving it in their faces before scuttling away into the vents. I…honestly had a blast with him. Dumbest character I’ve ever played but it was sooo much fun. He was super OCD for cleaning, which did become a huge problem near end game, lol.

I did most of my stat creating for him through an online character creation, as I didn’t fully understand the system. I got a hang of it as we went through it though. We will be doing another Eclipse Phase game as our next campaign, actually, so I’m hoping to understand it better. I will be playing a more serious character this time (kinda).

Dungeons & Dragons

Now, I actually have experience with DnD from before. Both it and Pathfinder I had played short stints with friends (DnD much longer), and while it was okay, and I started with DnD, I don’t always enjoy it. I personally prefer more of the roleplaying and investigative elements than combat. Most people I’ve played DnD with want to go heavy on combat. Anyways, for this also short game (was cut short due to lack of interest), we had another one DM and I played a tiefling merchant named Cinaed, who went as Cinny for short.

Now, Cinny was extremely interesting to play because he was only 12. He was actually a character I tried out in a couple smaller campaigns first, but I never really got to develop him, so I used him in this one as well. He was originally meant as a thief, but with Umbra having been just a bit ago, i went with a custom class as “merchant,” and got it okayed by the DM (I didn’t mod the class, I found it online). His parents were merchants in an area that wasn’t super keen on tieflings. Eventually, they were attacked while traveling and they were killed and their wagon was burned, with Cinny inside. He managed to escape with severe injuries and another merchant, a dwarf, ended up taking him in and raising him after that (I believe he was like eight at the time). Because of his trauma, he relied heavily on fire magic and basically only fire magic, save for some illusion and other basic spells (like acid splash). His goal was to revive his parents’ reputation and become a merchant that would make them proud.

As far as the campaign went…it was interesting at first, but we ran into a huge issue when the first dungeon we got to was a water dungeon. Our DM was such a stickler for the rules that we were constantly getting attacked, even when we were resting and trying to recover. Also, he threw some super powerful creatures at us by accident…we had a legit character death early on that he had to abate and use in the story. But, as you can imagine…someone who specialized in fire magic was useless during most of the dungeon, lol. My first kill I got was by pure luck, and thanks to other party members injuring it. Cinny cried while shouting “acid splash” over and over on the dead body. Cinny ended up picking a leek in the kitchen area and it was his “security leek” that he hugged and dragged with him through the entire dungeon. At least I finally got fireball in there before it was over and finally did a bit more damage. But it was frustrating for me because there was so much combat and I was basically a useless character for most of it.

It finally started to get interesting for me right before we quit, when I had a reaction to a silver room no one else did (I had draconian magic and assumed it had to do with that). I’ve had better experiences with DnD in the past, but it’s still far from my favorite system.

The Legend of the 5 Rings (L5R)

Okay…so, this is what our current campaign is that we are wrapping up. I will say it out right….this is my least favorite of all of the different games I’ve tried. The organization of the book is a complete disaster. It doesn’t have things in a conducive order, and it’s hard to find all the information to simply even make a character. Also, I find the honor system to be utter trash. It was such a hindrance to my style of RP and my character that I ended up just saying “screw it” after I lost some and lost even more.

I haven’t done any super good art of him, but my character is Akechi Ranpo, a detective from the Dragon Clan, Kitsuki class. We were also forced to take a second school, so I have some wind on me (and am a super genius, so the wind spirits really loved me). Honestly, I haven’t spent much time working with my other school because I still don’t full understand the first one. Akechi Ranpo is named for Edogawa Ranpo’s character Akechi Kogoro. There are references to him all over Japanese media, and I’m an Edogawa fan, lol. His partner is named Kobayashi, and is rather effeminate. He was never meant to be anything more than a protege, but he’s treated more as a servant by outsiders most of the time, and ended up being someone more powerful. Akechi’s backstory is pretty simple. He is a bit of a blacksheep among his family, for his strict adherence to finding the truth and not being extremely concerned with legalities and justices that accompany them. The truth is generally the only thing that matters to him. Because of that, he was raised by his grandfather and even assisted his old man with cases as he got older. He was an amazingly skilled investigator that won him a lot of clout with the noble class. He likes the contacts he got from it, but doesn’t care for the formalities of it and tends to treat everyone the same…which has been quite a problem for him. When there’s a case a foot, it’s like a switch flips and everyone becomes a suspect until he finds the truth. His grandfather was accused of doctoring the books and even killing someone to cover it up and faced legal recourse because of it. The young Akechi rushed to his aid and was able to find proof, but was not quick enough to prevent his grandfather’s demise. He learned through investigation that an assassin known as the “Fiend of Twenty Faces” was actually responsible and has been trying to hunt him down every since. He was told at the get go that one of his party members is the Fiend, but he still only has theories as to which it is (though he’s eliminated a few of them from the suspect pool).

I was hoping to do a lot with the character, and I’ve been loving when I get to do the investigation aspect of it, but I find a lot of times I’m just handed more puzzle pieces that don’t fit. I have a lot of information, but none of it really aligns together. I really can’t follow the general storyline too clearly, and I definitely feel like I’m playing a game where I missed information that would have helped Akechi make the proper decisions earlier and possibly not have half the royal family pissed at me. Also, mid game, I had a LOT dropped on me, and Akechi as a character definitely had to overload. Akechi, who firmly believes in only the truth, found out his entire being and foundation were built on lies, from both his grandfather and mentor. He has come to severely doubt himself and currently is aiming to become a gardener after this last case is over (and I’m not even sure what that last case really is because it keeps seeming to switch…XD).

All in all, it hasn’t made a good impression on me, and I feel like I spend more time racking my head for answers or information than actually enjoying the game. I also have a stockpile of EXP because it’s so hard to use the book I can’t really find anything to spend them all. I ended up buying traps (for disarmament and identification purposes), and it only just came into use last week. I also missed a couple weeks because of health and other events, but when I tried to figure out what I missed, I never got straight answers, so I’m still lost as to what happened in the middle of some of the storylines. I don’t really plan on ever doing this system again, but maybe a newer edition of it will make more sense.

Afterwards, and Other Games

Other than that, I mentioned I played a bit of Pathfinder before. I…did not enjoy it at all. It was a short campaign, but I rolled so terribly (I played an elven Ranger), and barely did anything. At least the enemy also rolled terribly…It was a smaller group, too, so that may have effected how the story stagnated so quickly. I might try it again in the future.

I also own the books for Dreamchaser, and was originally planning on using it for the campaign I would run in the future, but I find it almost to be too lax with rules, and I didn’t see any real set-up for combat situations. I’m planning on joining a local game of it in the future and see if I can get a better feel for it.

I’m also looking into the Fate series, as I want to run a completely original game and can’t find a good system that fits for customization. Fates was recommended a lot, so I’ve started reading through it. It seems to have some of the same flaws as Dreamchaser, but may be a little better to adjust. I’ve also written a mock combat system I can use at this point that seems to work okay with it.

Since I enjoy Exalted so much, I would like to try World of Darkness, since it’s the same publishing company. My older sister who played both liked how it wasn’t too hard to jump into Exalted once understanding WoD, so that gives me some hope for it. It also has a lot of interesting little split offs. I have plotted to get into a game with my older sister in the future, as we have characters we want to run together.

What other games does everyone play, and what else would you recommend? I’m always open to new systems!

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