Thursday, April 30, 2015


Some years back, I played in a long-running Buffy/Angel series, and even tried my hand at running a couple "guest GM" episodes. They weren't as successful as I'd hoped, mostly because I had some trouble integrating my own ideas into the huge, complex weave of plots and characters the campaign had accumulated, and balancing the challenges against the (by then) powerful heroes. Because of this, I never got around to developing an idea inspired by Lewis Carroll's works. This concept has been sitting on a crowded shelf in the back of my head for years now, so I thought I'd dust it off to share here so it can see the light of day at last.

The cast has met at one member's house for a long study night, sometime around Easter. After a few hours of this, eventually they all start nodding off. They find themselves meeting each other in the same dreamscape, except for one missing character (Jack Pennington, the hero I normally played). After encountering the White Rabbit-slash-Easter Bunny*, they eventually find Jack, dressed as the Red King, asleep under a tree. A pair of NPCs (some variant of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, as in the original story) warns them not to wake up the King. They're part of his dream after all, and might wink out if it ends! The heroes learn about a possible means of returning to the waking world: hunt down and capture a Snark, which lives somewhere in this tulgey wood.

It turns out that Snarks look much like maniacal rabbits, or possibly jackalopes--at least part of the time. These shapeshifting creatures should prove elusive for some time while the cast tries out more and more outrageous ideas for catching one.

Eventually, the most dangerous Snark of all arrives on the scene: the Jabberwock. John Tenniel's illustration in Through the Looking-glass shows this beast with large chisel teeth and protruding eyes like a rabbit--which inspired me to push the bunny theme to absurd extremes. Assuming the cast managed to acquire a vorpal sword during the adventure, then a cast member (most likely the resident Slayer) can use it to slay the Jabberwock. This monster is big and nasty, and worst of all, it's a Boojum:

"'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
   If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
   And never be met with again!'

Let the Boojum slowly "vanish" cast members as the fight progresses, making the situation more and more dire, but leave them some hope--Hope is one of the most effective weapons against Snarks, after all. This is where the White Hats can do their thing to encourage the Slayer, keep the Jabberwock distracted and confused, and so on.

Eventually, the surviving heroes triumph--and wake up, because it was all a dream. Cast members who were "vanished" are still there, but need some poking and prodding before they'll wake up. Jack can't be awakened until everyone else has--he was the Boojum's first victim, and is left with a severe bunny phobia.

My working title, "Leporiphobia," means fear of rabbits, and is a reference to one of the ex-Vengeance Demon Anya's little quirks. If you adapt this idea to run with the original Buffy cast, then Anya should become the Red King character. The other cast members get to experience a taste of how she feels about those creepy, evil bunnies--which might make her fear of them seem much less silly by the time the episode ends!


* I envisioned this character to be Jeffrey Jones cast as a chaos demon, wearing pajamas, a bathrobe, and bunny slippers, carrying a basket of eggs and a pocket watch. The picture I drew when I originally conceived "Leporiphobia" can be found here. (After seeing Stardust, though, I'd probably use Mark Williams if I ran this now.) The chaos demon might be responsible for the dream--intentionally or accidentally--but is more or less harmless.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

TBT bonus: What is a Role-Playing Game?

[I wrote this page several years ago, for a personal gaming site that no longer exists. I present it here for posterity with only cosmetic editing. I may expand on and update this at some future date. --Tim]

What is a Role-Playing Game?

This is my attempt at a brief summary of what a role-playing game is. I have tried to keep this description simple and introductory; I am writing for those of you who have never participated in this hobby. (I am also doing this to help organize my own thoughts, so that I can better present these ideas to people who ask me this question in person.) I would appreciate any feedback that you might have on this page, so that I can continue to improve my skills at introducing people to my favorite hobby.

What is a role-playing game?

Role-playing games are part storytelling, part psychological role-playing exercise, part improvisational acting. They are "let's pretend" with rules.

In a role-playing game (RPG), the players assume the parts of fictional or historic characters, and attempt to portray those characters' personalities and achieve those characters' goals. They speak what their characters say, and either describe or act out what their characters do. Because the outcome of some attempted actions cannot be resolved entirely through conversation with the other players, each game has a system of rules (the game mechanics) to determine whether the character succeeds or fails.

In most games, each person only plays one character (a "player character," or PC). Depending on the game, each player may be assigned a pre-written character or may create one according to the game system's rules. Each character will have a "character sheet," which summarizes the character's abilities (including the game mechanics for using them), as well as his or her motivations and background. One of the players acts as a "Game Master" (GM) instead of playing a PC. This GM runs everything else in the game: preparing the adventure/mission/scenario, describing the setting to the players, playing characters the PCs meet (the "non-player characters," or NPCs), and making rulings on the results of actions the PCs attempt.

RPGs have no prescribed script or ending. A game's story is created through the interaction between the players and the GM. A single session may last any length of time from a few hours to a full day, and a game may be continued over several sessions (a weekend, or spread over several weeks). A long game may be run as a "campaign," a series of adventures linked by using the same characters and overall setting.

So, how do you win in these games?

This question doesn't have a simple answer, which can be a great source of confusion to newcomers. Characters "win" if they manage to accomplish their goals (stay alive, defeat enemies, save the kingdom, earn wealth or fame, improve skills, etc.). Their players "win" if they accomplish these goals, but they can also "win" by achieving their own out-of-character goals (role-play well, solve puzzles, etc.). Most importantly, RPGs are a social activity, so their primary goal is to have fun. If the players enjoyed the game, and their participation added to the enjoyment of the other players, then that game can be considered a success--even if some characters did not "win."

What kinds of games are there?

Most RPGs fall into the science fiction or medieval fantasy categories, but other genres are also popular: horror, military, espionage, superheroes, cartoons and a plethora of historical periods. Any genre (or combination of genres!) that you can conceive can be used for a role-playing game--and almost certainly has been.

When my gaming associates and I divide RPGs into categories other than genre, we usually identify two groups according to the game's format: "tabletop" RPGs and "live-action" RPGs.

In a "tabletop" RPG, the players describe their characters' actions rather than acting them out. The players usually sit around a table (hence the label) or a living room. This allows all players to see and hear everyone else clearly, and gives a central location for displaying props, maps and other playing aids. The typical size for a "tabletop" gaming group is 4-7 players plus a GM. This size allows a certain critical mass necessary for brainstorming but is small enough to allow the GM to give adequate time to each player. The element of chance in the game mechanics is usually represented with dice, sometimes supplemented with cards or other randomizers. Tabletop rules systems range from the simple to the complex to the truly arcane, depending on the focus of the game and desires of the gaming group. Some genres will require new subsets of rules for unusual subjects such as magic or psychic powers, which will add further complexity.

Many regular tabletop players prefer to play in campaigns, so that they can identify with an evolving character of their own creation, and most commercial systems are geared towards such progression. However, short "one-shot" adventures are also common, and are the norm for tournaments and demo games. In both cases, the PCs are usually a team of some sort, working together to complete a mission.

In a "live-action" role-playing game (or LARP), the players act out as much of the action as they can within the bounds of possibility, legality, safety and good taste. The rest is simulated by the game mechanics. Real locations represent "in-game" spaces: a ballroom serves as a great hall, a hallway as a road, a campsite as a village, etc. Because most characters in the game are run by actual players, rather than being GM-run NPCs, these games tend to be large affairs. They may have dozens to hundreds of players, though 30-40 seems to be most common size. Such large games typically involve several competing factions rather than the "one-team" model of tabletop games. Because of this size, the game is refereed by a team of GMs, led by the scenario's author or some other "head GM." The size of these games also requires them to have simpler rules systems than tabletop games. The players need to be able to learn the rules and start play quickly. A simple system also allows the players to take some of the burden of resolving the results of their actions onto themselves rather than requiring a GM to be present at all times. Game mechanics vary widely, ranging from a single die to "rock-paper-scissors" to "live combat" systems using padded weapons ("boffers") or Nerf guns.

Some LARP groups (especially the "live combat" organizations) run campaigns with "make-your-own-character" systems, which allow the chance to improve skills and status. Others run "one-shots" with characters created by the scenario's writers, which allows for a more custom-tailored web of plots and secrets. Because these "one-shots" are "pre-packaged," the more successful ones may be run again with new players with relative ease.

Lastly, one major difference between the two formats is costuming. Tabletop gamers rarely dress in character, except perhaps for special parties or conventions. In contrast, LARP players are encouraged to dress as their characters as an aid to role-playing. Such garb will range from regular street clothing to elaborate makeup and hand-made fantasy costumes, depending on the game, the character and each player's preferences and means.

Sounds cool! Tell me more!

If you want to find out more about this hobby, try any or all of the following:
  • If you know someone who plays RPGs, ask them about their games and why they play them. Most gamers will be happy to tell you more about role-playing--new recruits are what keep this hobby alive.
  • Most commercially available game systems begin their rulebooks with a short summary of the RPG concept, which will give you another perspective on the hobby. This summary will often be slanted towards that system's rules and jargon, but the better essays of this kind are applicable to any role-playing game. Most of these essays can be read in a relatively short time at a friend's house or in a bookstore, so that you don't necessarily have to buy the book to get an alternate explanation of the hobby.
  • Find your local game or hobby store and ask the staff how to find games and gamers in the area. Many such businesses have a bulletin board for posting notices. Ask if there is a local venue for demonstration games, so that you can get a taste before committing a great deal of time and money to this new pursuit. (RPG books aren't exactly cheap.)
  • Do a web search for the home pages of the companies that publish RPGs. Depending on the company, you will find information ranging from catalog blurbs to in-depth descriptions of products to free excerpts from the rules.
  • is an online forum for the discussion of RPGs of all types. Their website includes many articles and links to help you learn more about RPGs (both tabletop and live-action). The GAMA pamphlet, "Questions & Answers About Role-Playing Games", is one excellent example designed for the general public.

Yeah, I tried that once, and didn't like it. So what's the big deal?

This hobby isn't for everyone. But some people who would enjoy these games had bad experiences with their first game, which turned them off from gaming. If you are one of those people, and you really want to find a situation that works for you, keep trying. Your problem may have been one of the following, which can be fixed:
  • Inexperienced role-players: Everyone needs some time to learn the skills necessary to play these games well, and learning curves vary widely. Yes, this can be frustrating, but everyone has to go through this phase. Experienced players can provide invaluable examples and advice if you can find them.
  • Inexperienced GM: This goes double for GMs, who are expected to know the rules thoroughly as well as be able to react quickly to the players' unexpected actions. (And all groups surprise their GMs on a regular basis.) Some novice GMs will wisely decide GMing is not for them, some will keep trying but never get better, some will achieve a decent level of skill, and some will even become legends of the gaming community. GMs of all skill levels need feedback from their players about the job they are doing.
  • Problem players: Some role-players (even veterans) will debate rules, or obsess about how powerful their characters are, or argue with every party plan, or otherwise waste a lot of time that the group could have spent enjoying a fine game. Some of these obnoxious players can be reformed; some must simply be avoided at all costs.
  • Incompatible group: The group dynamics of your first game may have been wrong for your needs, even if the group included no problem players. Every group has a different style, and a different mix of challenges that they like to encounter in their games. Ask to sit in on a tabletop session, or to be a LARP observer, if you're not sure that a given game or group is right for you.
  • Wrong genre: You may have more fun in a different genre. Even if you are an avid fan of a certain genre, you may not be comfortable gaming in that genre. RPGs exist for nearly every conceivable genre, so keep looking for those that intrigue you.
  • Wrong system: You may be more comfortable with a different set of game rules. Each system has its own emphasis and style. For example, some have a rules-heavy wargaming influence, while others are freeform storytelling games.

Roleplaying with my kids

My wife Erika and I are long-time gamers, so our two children were exposed to role-playing games from a very young age. A few years ago, Erika and I began teaching them some rules so they could play with us. When we discussed what system to start with, we chose D&D v.3.5 primarily because it was the game we were most familiar with at the time. It had been our various gaming groups' RPG of choice for several years at that point, and it was one of two systems that Erika had GMed as well. 

Naturally, we presented the rules to them in highly simplified form. To speed up character creation, I used the generic class rules from Unearthed Arcana (adept, expert, and warrior) and shortened the skill list, partly by combining certain skills (as True20 and Pathfinder do with Notice/Perception and Stealth) and partly by dropping a few (like Profession) altogether. We also ignored other rules where we could, such as concentration checks. 

Kids their age (9 and 8 at the time) have short attention spans, and drift off target frequently, so I kept the adventures short and sweet. The first adventure involved a dryad asking them to rescue a missing centaur child from some goblins. I let them do some roleplaying during the conversation with the dryad, then had her remind them of the urgency of the mission when they had learned all they needed to. After a few skills rolls to find the monsters' lair, they got to fight a bunch of goblins and their bugbear boss. They had great fun rolling lots of dice and beating up bad guys! 

I ran a second adventure, involving a small gang of kobolds who had stolen a dragon's egg. Before we found time for more, one of our friends with a child about their age offered to run some D&D for the three of them. She used the "BECMI" Rules Cyclopedia, but with a vast amount of streamlining and GM fiat. Vivian is a veteran DM, and the kids had a lot of fun before scheduling issues (and later, a cross-country move) brought an end to those adventures. 

This past year, we started teaching them Pathfinder. They were invited to join our regular group in playing The Shadow's Dungeon, GMed by one of our other players. They still had some attention span issues--we adults are used to gaming for hours on end, and it was hard to find a compromise--so after the first couple sessions we had a talk and the kids chose to drop out. However, I promised them that I would run some Pathfinder just for them, so that they could still have fun playing at their own pace.

I already had quite a bit on my player/GM plate, so it took some time before I was ready to run more games for them. I decided to set the new game in the same world as the "Time of the Tarrasque" campaign that I was preparing for the regular group. When I had pitched that game to my players, I had proposed a few different starting points, allowing them to choose the one the group liked best ("Lands of the Sun," about which I'll be posting more soon). One of the other proposals seemed ideal for a campaign for the kids: "Champions of Floris"* was the most conventional of the three, with most of the standard races being common in that area, and plenty of low-level creatures (such as goblins and gnolls) to use as threats to the region. It's also set a significant distance from the main campaign, so I don't need to worry about the two parties crossing paths until much later in their careers. 

Using the Tarrasque world would save me a lot of work in preparing background material, because I've been tinkering with this setting for years. Also, assuming that the kids stay interested in RPGs until they've matured enough to commit to a more long-term game with the rest of us, it will be fairly easy to include them in the main campaign--either with their existing characters or creating new ones.

I ran the first adventure for them in December and January. Their sorcerer and druid were joined by a paladin played by Erika. A local farmer sought their help with goblins who had been stealing supplies and livestock. They attempted to track the goblins but didn't get far, so went back the farm to await another attack. This didn't take long, and they fought off a small group of goblins led by a bard and a barbarian. (The PCs used grease and entangle to devastating effect.) After this fight, they succeeded in following the monsters' tracks back to their cave in the foothills of the nearby mountains. The extended fight in the lair was challenging, because I included a couple goblin dogs, plus a boss fight with a fighter/rogue. The boss knocked out the paladin and druid, and would have accomplished a TPK if the sorcerer hadn't had amazing luck in dodging his attacks while plinking him to death with cantrips**. Camping out in the cave until the party healed enough to travel was a bit of an anticlimax after that victory, but they returned to town to sell off the gear and treasure they collected, and advanced to 2nd level. (We're using fast progression in order to keep them from getting bored waiting to earn each new level. The main game will use medium.)

I hope to run the next adventure for them later this month. I asked them for ideas about what kind of adventure they want to play next. I'll be doing my best to cater to that while keeping some mystery about what's really going on***. This will be a town adventure, and will involve a bit more investigation than the last one, but the encounters should be fun, and challenging. I'll post more about that adventure after we've played it, and will continue reporting on the campaign as it progresses.


* For more on the background of "Champions of Floris," see the player wiki for the game.

** Unlimited use of known or prepared cantrips and orisons in Pathfinder is a godsend. It keeps low-level casters from being useless after casting a bare handful of spells, and helps cantrips remain useful to higher-level characters. When your cleric can cast detect magic and stabilize all day long, and still prep a couple less commonly used orisons like purify food and drink and create water, you can conserve some energy for agonizing over picking the rest of your spells for the day.

*** My daughter is crazy about dragons, but she's learned enough about the game to realize they need a few more levels before taking on even a wyrmling. Plus, she isn't sure she wants to actually kill a dragon. So she settled for snakes. I can work with that. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Earthdawn Races for Pathfinder

The Earthdawn RPG draws upon many of the tropes of Dungeons & Dragons but reinvents many of the basic premises of other fantasy worlds. Player characters are Adepts, heroes who use the innate magic of the world to perform superhuman feats. These deeds include the fighting talents of warriors, the trickery of thieves, and the spells of magicians, as well as the many gifts of other Disciplines (the game's version of classes or occupations). Barsaive, the setting for Earthdawn, includes many standard fantasy races (dwarves, elves, humans, orks) as well as new races unique to this world: gruff, horned trolls, the lizard-like t'skrang, the tiny winged windlings, and the rocky-skinned obsidimen.

Some of Barsaive's races would make appealing choices for player characters in other systems. Players of the Pathfinder RPG can use the Race Builder rules in the Advanced Race Guide to translate these races to that rules set. I've provided two worked examples below, the obsidiman and windling, as well as a sample 1st-level character for each race. The descriptions given here are necessarily very short and incomplete; see the Earthdawn RPG (and the Namegivers of Barsaive supplement) for more details on the setting and races.

If these new races are used in their native setting, replace "Common" with Dwarven, and give humans their own racial language. The bonus language list for all PC races is as follows: Dwarven, Elven, Giant (for Trolls), Human, Obsidiman, Orc (for Orks), T'skrang, and Windling. In Earthdawn, members of all "Namegiver" races learn at least one artistic skill in order to demonstrate that they are not Horror-tainted. Both sample characters below use their favored class bonus for an additional skill point to use for Craft or Perform.

Type: Humanoid (obsidiman) (0 RP)
Size: Medium (0 RP)
Base Speed: Slow (-1 RP)
Ability Score Modifiers: Greater Paragon (+4 Str, -2 Dex, -2 Cha) (2 RP)
Languages: Standard (0 RP)
Racial Traits: 
Ability Score Racial Traits: Advanced Strength (+2) (4 RP); Advanced Constitution (+2) (4 RP)
Defense Racial Traits: Improved natural armor (+1) (1 RP); Natural armor (+1) (2 RP)
Total: 12 RP

Obsidiman stand 7 feet tall or more and appear to be made out of living rock. Their tough hides give them excellent protection, but they are flesh and blood creatures, like any other humanoid. Obsidimen make excellent fighters, and many become accomplished wizards. Most lack the agility to become rogues or the presence required of bards or sorcerers, but members of those classes do exist. This race is slow to anger, so barbarians are almost unheard of.

In Earthdawn, obsidiman cannot wear most kinds of armor, because they dislike the feel of dead things around their bodies. Unless the GM makes "living armor" available in the campaign, ignore this restriction--it is too great a handicap for martial characters in Pathfinder, especially when combined with this race's low Dexterity. 

Obsidiman Warrior (CR 1/2)
XP 200
Obsidiman fighter 1
NG Medium humanoid (obsidiman)
Init +0; Senses Perception +1
AC 18, touch 10, flat-footed 18 (+5 armor, +3 natural)
hp 13 (1d10+3)
Fort +5, Ref +0, Will +1
Defensive Abilities bravery +1
Speed 20 ft. (15 ft. in armor)
Melee greatsword +5 (2d6+6/19-20)
Ranged javelin +1 (1d6+4)
Str 19, Dex 11, Con 16, Int 11, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +1; CMB +5; CMD 15
Feats Cleave[B], Power Attack
Skills Craft (sculpture) +4, Intimidate +3, Survival +5
Languages Common, Obsidiman
Gear scale mail, greatsword, javelin (3), 2 gp

Type: Humanoid (windling) (0 RP)
Size: Tiny (4 RP)
Base Speed: Normal (0 RP)
Ability Score Modifiers: Standard (-2 Str, +2 Dex, +2 Cha) (0 RP)
Languages: Standard (0 RP)
Racial Traits: 
Feat and Skill Racial Traits: Nimble Attacks (2 RP)
Movement Racial Traits: Flight (40 ft., poor) (6 RP)
Total: 12 RP

Windlings are small, graceful humanoids with insect-like wings. In settings other than Barsaive, they are frequently mistaken for fey. While they are accomplished fliers, they tire too easily to stay airborne for long periods of time. Because windlings are cheerful, inquisitive, and impulsive by nature, other races have trouble taking them seriously--while the windlings tend to find many larger races far too stodgy for their own good. 

These small folk are notorious for their excellent rogues, but also make skilled bards, illusionists, rangers, and druids. Because of their severe dislike of death magic, windlings avoid using necromancy spells, and would consider a necromancer of their race to be an abomination.

In Earthdawn, windlings can see into astral space, allowing them to see the magic fabric behind reality. This trait does not translate well into the standard Pathfinder rules, and requires the metaphysical context of the Barsaive setting to be useful, so I've omitted it here. 

Windling Thief (CR 1/2)
XP 200
Windling rogue 1
CG Tiny humanoid (windling)
Init +5; Senses Perception +6 (+7 traps)
AC 19, touch 17, flat-footed 14 (+2 armor, +5 Dex, +2 size)
hp 9 (1d8+1)
Fort +1, Ref +7, Will +2
Speed 30 ft., fly 40 ft. (poor)
Melee shortsword +7 (1d3-1/19-20) or longspear +1 (1d4-1/x3)
Ranged heavy crossbow +7 (1d6/19-20)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.(5 ft. with longspear)
Special Attacks sneak attack +1d6
Str 8, Dex 20, Con 12, Int 15, Wis 15, Cha 16
Base Atk +0; CMB -3CMD 12
Feats Rapid Reload (heavy crossbow), Weapon Finesse[B]
Skills Acrobatics +9, Appraise +6, Bluff +7, Disable Device +10, Fly +13, Perception +6 (+7 traps), Perform (dance) +7, Sense Motive +6, Sleight of Hand +9, Stealth +17
Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven, Windling
SQ trapfinding
Gear leather armor, shortsword, heavy crossbow and 20 bolts, thieves' tools, 4 pp, 3 gp

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Time of the Tarrasque

I've wanted to run an adventure featuring the tarrasque ever since it first appeared in the AD&D Monster Manual II, but none of the campaigns I've run ever reached high enough level for the party to stand any remote chance against such an epic foe. Because of this lack of experience with very high level parties, I've been hesitant to try a tarrasque battle as a one-shot adventure--I don't want to run such an epic, iconic conflict if I can't do it proper justice. 

When the Third Edition Monster Manual came out in 2000, its version of the tarrasque was bigger and badder than ever. The stat block included an Advancement line, which left open-ended just how much more powerful the DM could make it. That one little line of text inspired me with the first kernel of a new campaign setting. In all editions, the tarrasque is described as lying dormant for long periods of time, then reappears to ravage the countryside until it either sates its monstrous appetite, or is destroyed or driven off by a party of very high level adventurers. I thought what if, when the tarrasque fights (and frequently defeats) these heroes, it gains experience as well? Each time it reappears, it's marginally more powerful (perhaps adding a new Hit Die every few appearances?), which makes it an increasingly bigger challenge for future adventurers. Heroes who thought themselves prepared for the fight could be in for a nasty surprise when they discover too late that their carefully researched creature lore was woefully out of date.

For this new campaign, I decided to dramatically increase the time between the tarrasque's appearances, with intervals averaging around 30 years--roughly a human generation--instead of a few dozen months. This would enhance the creature's mystique, and give me a longer cycle to work into the world's history. After all, such a primal source of destruction could easily shift the balance of power in any region in which it appears, and even topple civiliizations. The player characters in this campaign would be the heroes destined to face the tarrasque in their generation, when the "Time of the Tarrasque" came again. This will be the most ambitious campaign I've ever run, and the first I've run from 1st level to 20th (or higher). Fortunately, the core of my regular gaming group have been playing together for over 10 years, and even survived a cross-country move intact, so I feel pretty confident that we'll still be playing together for the time we'll need to complete such a long-term game.

My notes for the campaign were originally written for D&D v.3.5, and I was still puttering with it when Fourth Edition was released. That system's tarrasque was recast as an abomination that could never be truly destroyed, only banished back to the world's core when "killed." That idea intrigued me, but I eventually decided that I did not like the Fourth Edition rules well enough to run a long campaign using them. I eventually settled on the Pathfinder RPG for "Time of the Tarrasque." In that system, the beast's stats were derived from the v.3.5 Monster Manual, but built upon the idea that it could not be killed, only driven off or banished for a time. And most importantly, Pathfinder is fully compatible with v.3.5, so while my copious notes would need to be updated, I wouldn't have to start over from scratch.

Over the past year, I have been gearing up to finally start running the campaign. I created a wiki to provide background information to my players, and we started discussing campaign starting points and character ideas. They have built their 1st-level characters, but are still fleshing out backgrounds. We'll start the new campaign once I've finished running my last big adventure for Freeport. I'll be blogging more about the "Time of the Tarrasque" setting as that time approaches, and continuing as the campaign progresses. My recent cactus leshy post was written for the desert frontier region where the main campaign will begin. Expect more information about this "Lands of the Sun" sub-setting soon!