GMing Via Google Plus Hangout

The system of “virtual tabletop” that I
am using in Google+

So, the long awaited moment arrived last night.  I launched my first ever international video game (I have been running an Earthdawn PBeM for about 13 years now so it is not my first International game) via Google plus and the system.  I have to say also that a damn good time was had by me and hopefully all of my players as well.  By the way, before you read any further I will warn you of this, parts of the Reign of Winter adventure path from Paizo are discussed here.  If you want to be a player in this campaign I would suggest that you reconsider reading this post.

The system we used was the grand old Pathfinder system, though I am adding some house rules next week to add some more flavour to the characters and also try out the Hero Point system detailed in the Advanced Players Guide of Pathfinder, with a twist.  I am not going to offer up a post on the roll20 system here, I may do that via a dedicated post.  I will say this though, several of the things that we did on roll20 got some “Oooohs” and “Aaaahs” from the players.  I thoroughly like the system and have become a financial backer for it as of yesterday via subscription.

Thank you goes to +Christopher Hardy for this little gem
that became the sleepy village of Heldren 

So the game has been set and if you are a new reader, the campaign is the newest adventure path from Paizo for Pathfinder called the “Reign of Winter”.  The first module “Snows of Summer” was where we started last night.  It is so new that I do not even yet have my hardcopy of the book (I am a subscriber) and had to run it from PDF last night.  With the call out I have got five players, four of which played last night.  I am committing to a weekly game though some of the players may not be able to make it all the time.  This is fine and I can use them to NPC on the weeks they are away and award them party experience.  We also had a prospective player sit in last night and he is rolling up a character today to join in next week, so the party of five becomes the party of six next week.

The inaugural game had an impressive lineup.  First off there is Shun (pronounced Shoon) run by +Eric M.  Shun is an aged halfling monk with a bad gambling and drinking problem.  Fantastic rolls for his stats gave him a great start but his rolls last night were atrocious.  Must have been the demon drink putting his Monk abilities off for the evening.  He is shaping up to be the cinematic lover of the group with an “as long as it looks cool” attitude beginning to grow.  Last night whilst trying to disarm a trap (no skill in it but the alchemist managed to talk him up a tree) he actually set it off.  he was in no danger at all but Eric asked if he could be pulled out of the tree and swing down on the spiked log that was at the heart of the trap.  Why?  Because it looks cool!

Second character would be Urgunn Harvirr, the female Dwarven Fighter played by +libby furr.  She is wandering in search for adventure so she can earn enough coin to pay for the freedom of her fellow female dwarves to choose who they want to marry out of love rather than duty.  It is a great ideal but possibly one that will ruffle the grey beards of Dwarven society, almost enough to put a stop to it?  Only time will tell.  She did not get a huge chance to show her fighting spirit last night but she did show her temper!  After being collected by the aforementioned spiked log trap she expressed her anger by king hitting poor old stunned Shun as he sat on the log.

The third character for the evening has the promise of perhaps being the most destabilising element in the party.  The human alchemist known as Alan Chemist played by +Reece Carter.  Starting off reasonably quietly Alan came to life as they moved out to travel to the frozen wasteland that had appeared to the South.  The first area they came to had Alan essentially destroy two zombies in a carriage with his bomb ability.  The only one that got out being killed by the party Paladin who is soon to be introduced.  Alan also seems to be the one that jumps on treasure, and is willing to take the risks to jump on treasure and secure it as soon as possible.  Finding the trap last night had Alan directing Shun on the best way to “disarm” the trap showing he had an invested interest in the ways traps are made.  The NPC ranger accompanying them (Erain) did warn them prior to playing with the trap, but did they listen? Noooooo.  The result had Alan first in line for the log to hit.

Reign of Winter goodness…

The final PC for the night was run by +Cam Mcloughlin, a Sulis (half human, half djann) Paladin named Corbyn Duvaal dedicated to Torag.  Corbyn soon showed himself to be the heart of a Paladin, making a big show of his dedication to the cause of good and law by leaping at the chance to find out what happened to the noblewoman taken by bandits into the frozen woods.  He further shone in his Paladin like demeanour by breaking out the soap box after the other members of the party a) put treasure over personal safety; and b) hit another player due to the injury caused by point a)!  As an aside, Corbyn was the only one smart enough to move out of the path of the log before they started to disarm it. I can see some interesting sessions in the future being born from the dynamic between Corbyn and Alan.

So, now you have met the player personalities, lets discussed what actually happened in order, inclusive of out of game events.  Firstly Cam and I were in a room next to each other (as I was leaching his internet) and we sat waiting for the 8 P.M. time deadline to come.  It arrived and I looked all over my event page to find the link to join now and could not find one!  I think I may have erroneously set up the event not to be a hangout event.  Don’t really know, so I created a hangout and invited all those people that I had previously and we were away.

I knew Reece would be a little bit of time so I did a bit of an introduction and showed the players some of the features of the roll20 system and allowed them to practice their dice rolling.  I also foreshadowed some additions that would occur in week two to their characters like Hero points and the like.  Then we hit snag one in that when one of the players logged in we got horrible feedback.  Cam was certain it was him and he immediately started messing with his microphone which later paid off by causing him not to be heard by any player!  I had to take off the headset and allow him to be heard through my Macbook’s internal microphone, which worked in a fashion.

When we finally got underway the players learnt that the small village they were in (a temperate climate near the middle of summer) was located North of a forest that had suddenly been overtaken by ice and snow drifts.  To make things worse, a mercenary rode into town the day before babbling feverishly about being attacked by the witches servants.  The players that were strangers in town (Urgunn, Corbyn and Shun) started to get some funny looks and so they decided to set about finding out what this snowbound forest was all about.  After all, they heard over and over again that snow here was rare enough in Winter and totally unheard of in the Summer months.

They visited the mercenary, now holed up in the apothecary and found that he was of Linnorn blood and happened to know what he was talking about.  He claimed the carriage he was protecting was attacked initially by bandits and then he discerned winter touched creatures.  he described them and thanks to an excellent role Alan was able to identify the type of winter touched they were.  The mercenary helped them identify the creatures weakness and assured the group that the inhabitation of the forest was part of a plot by the Witches of Irrisen.  A country thousands of miles from their current location.

So, after harassing some councillors for a bit of pay they headed off to see the forest for themselves after purchasing some snow gear and some cold iron weapons.  It was around then that the modem Cam and I were using went into meltdown and after a few minutes rebooted.  The other players were chatting happily waiting for our return.  unfortunately when we did get back in I had lost my GM abilities with roll20 and so I had to start another hangout (as I did not know how to get them back).  Anyway, that only took a few minutes of down time and we were into the first combat-esque encounter as the players discovered the sight of the massacre the mercenary had escaped from.  The players found a dismembered member of the mercenaries frozen in statue form and a couple of really slow zombies who had no effect on the group at all.

the group did find a nice little haul in the carriage as they pushed on to see if they could make it to the ranger lodge that had not been heard from since the start of the frost.  Beginning to push through the frosted areas of the forest they find a large chest half buried in the snow.  It is here that Alan found the spiked log trap and read the character descriptions above to see how that turned out!

So, that was our first three hours.  We were having a good old laugh by the end of it and it felt like a group that had been playing together for some time.  I gave them a further brief discussion on the idea of hero points in the game and also an idea toward how I want to use them next week.  I want the players to fully appreciate their characters and so am stealing some ideas from another system to use build their personas up.  But more about that after next weeks game!


  1. Thanks. I wish I could claim credit for it but it is all Christopher Hardy. He is great when it comes to ink and paper maps. If it had been me I would have created a picture of a village that stick figures would not inhabit!


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