Video GM’s Guide 6 – Social Encounters

Ladies, gentlemen, and humans NOS, I present to you the triumphant return of Chamomile Has A GM’s Guide But Instead Of Regular It’s On YouTube:

At this point these videos are mainly a vehicle for me to figure out how to sound editing decently, which is hard for me to do because I never really notice audio quality in the first place. I started using compression and normalization and stuff, plus I have a better microphone. Is it good? Is the audio done? Should I start focusing more on less generic video now? I guess the answer to the latter question is “yes, because I actually notice changes in quality there and can make meaningful progress without waiting for someone to come along and tell me what’s up.”

The Kartoss Gambit: The Dragon Dimension

Chapter 8


I’m a man of steady nerves, but when the Dragonkin’s malicious muzzle repeated the same phrase for the fortieth time, you developed an irresistible itch to put your boot in it.

As soon as the portal with the Orc Warriors disappeared, the Dragonkin got up from his knees and, as if nothing happened, placed himself in the doorway of the hut.

“I need the scroll that will take me to the Dragons,” I approached the four-legged NPC.

“Key!” the Dragonkin rumbled for the first time.

“What key?”


“I found the clearing and met all the conditions. I demand to be given the scroll!”


This is the first page of the chapter. Eventually, Danny gives up on getting inside and instead decides to craft a chess set for Anastaria’s birthday as was requested/demanded of him by Hellfire. He fugue-crafts the set with the Phoenix Clan on one side and the Dark Legion on the other and turns out, oops, it’s cursed, now the two clans need to play against each other once a month and the winner gets a buff and the loser a debuff. Anastaria is not amused, but it turns out crafting a unique item was the key the dragonkin was looking for. So, not only has Danny crafted a legendary unique item again, this time by doing nothing else but taking a bunch of rare materials supplied by Hellfire and then poking at them for like ten hours, but it just so happens that this is the secret key that allows him to teleport to the hidden island of the guardian of all draconic lore. The first Way of the Shaman was mostly free of this inexplicably unique kind of achievement, and while this second one is much less incessant with it than, for example, Awaken Online, the series overall is getting worse at this kind of thing.

Danny summons up his dragon totem for more help in customizing his spirits (also, Kornik, the new shaman trainer he met in the last post, is also here, but refusing to actually help him, so apparently “training” here means “watch while Danny figures it out by himself”).

“Hi. I need your help. Will you come?”

“Awe we going to pway?”

“No, we won’t play. I have to get to grips with the Spirits.”

“Awwight. I come.”

I really hope this dragon isn’t going to be a frequent conversant.

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: The Dragon Dimension”


I’m more nervous about this Kickstarter than I should be. Magignosis is a spin-off project of Petals and Thorns containing a suite of new classes I wrote in order to make PF/3.5 NPC stat blocks less infuriating to build, focusing more on having a suite of awesome powers rather than on having tons of fiddly customization options at every new level. It’s good for a certain type of player and also for any GM who’s short on time and needs to make a villain who’s got X levels in Y class and doesn’t care about whether he’s got the Precise Shot feat because this guy is going to be dead in two weeks anyway. I don’t know if people really want this kind of thing and if they do I don’t know if they want it badly enough to pay money for it, but I’m going to find out. Ultimately this thing is just not that important compared to the Petals and Thorns sequel I’m working on, but from the moment I launched the campaign, my subconscious became convinced that its success or failure would be an omen for the future and now won’t leave me alone. Worst case scenario, I at least got a quick and easy Friday article out of the deal, which certainly helps with getting back onto a regular blogging schedule.

Speaking of which, being that this Kickstarter is ultimately unimportant, and that the blog has been derailed badly enough by all the data entry work on the last one, I’m not planning on halting content for this one like I did for the last, so blog updates will continue as normal (except perhaps with more shilling) for the duration of this Kickstarter. Maybe also for the next, more important Kickstarter due to start up sometime in late February or early March, depending on how confident I feel about managing a Kickstarter at the same time as posting blog content.

The Kartoss Gambit: Crocodile Tears

Chapter 6

Danny has returned to Farstead and picked up a tremendous amount of loot left for him in his bank vault by Anastaria. She also leaves a note in which Danny’s craft-unlocking fugue state gets even specialer:

[“]The only thing that Rick was curious about was how you managed to change stats, since you need character level of 150 and 100 levels in any profession before you can access the design mode. It goes without saying that this is unlocked via a quest chain, which needs several people to complete – it’s physically impossible to solo. Our analysts are still racking their brains how this is possible and are even putting Karachun’s words into doubt. But Eric, whom I contacted specifically on this account, has confirmed that you were able to change the properties of the rings you crafted. All my analysts are in a state of shock and can only shrug at this. This is the third reason why we want you in the clan.[“]

There’s also a letter from one of his prison buddies, Eric, confirming that the Phoenix Clan was lying when they said they’d ditched him to join Phoenix, but also that they’d told the Phoenix Clan everything about what they’d done in the dungeon. So, Danny’s earlier trick question was actually totally pointless? Apparently Anastaria did have access to reliable information on who got what item, she just didn’t have the information memorized and assumed Danny was being truthful when he said Leite got pauldrons.

There’s a new shaman trainer coming to visit town, which Danny was notified of a bit ago, and he wants to pay this new trainer a visit while he’s within Danny’s extremely limited range of travel. Upon arrival, it turns out that he is apparently expected and the new trainer came here to visit him, specifically. He’s about to give Danny a step-by-step walkthrough on how to find the secret land of the dragons and unlock sweet new totem powers, but Danny stops him. He said to himself earlier that he’d puzzle out this secret dragon quest on his own because doing things without hints always got a bigger prize from Barliona than accepting help from NPCs. The trainer visiting town apparently considers it vitally important that Danny complete his totem quest ASAP.

“All right. If you can provide a good reason why you must find the Dragons on your own without my help, I will agree. But your reason must be indisputable.”

“I cannot give you a reason. This… This is something within me – I feel that this is the way I must do things and if I accept your help it would mean a greatly inferior result,” I decided not to beat about the bush and tell Kornik the whole truth. As ridiculous as it might be. Even if he’s an NPC, he’s a clever NPC with access to the information that I need. If I don’t get help with sorting out my feelings, one day I’ll go mad from the inner contradictions between logic and emotions. This isn’t easy for someone who’d been guided by his head his entire life. And a pretty shabby head at that, I thought, remembering how I ended up in prison.

“That is the most cast-iron reason that a Shaman can give,” there was now a hint of satisfaction in Kornik’s voice.

What’s the point of even asking for reasons if your culture considers “because I don’t feel like it” to be the most impeccable excuse for doing or not doing anything?

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: Crocodile Tears”

The Kartoss Gambit: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Trap

Chapter 5 (cont.)

Hellfire has left Danny a note at the site of the wolf pack’s destruction, explaining that he’s guessed that they’re Danny’s wolves, that Danny crafted the pawns of the legendary Chess set, and that Danny would come to see what happened to the wolves when he got the notification that the quest had ended. That’s some pretty good guessing. There is one clue in that the wolves don’t despawn after dying which means they’re quest-related, waiting for Danny to come and collect the tail of the Grey Death (which he does, because at this point, why not?), and Hel does know from Danny’s traitorous prison buddies that he has the ultra-rare Crafting stat. Still, this guy would be amazing at Codenames.

Despite his growing spite for Hellfire, Danny remains enthralled with Anastaria. This feels a lot like it’s headed for Danny defeating Hel to take over the bestest clan in the game and get married to the prettiest girl in all of Barliona, but that hasn’t actually happened yet, so I’ll reserve judgement. Danny calls in to Anastaria to report his run-in with the number two clan, and she lets him know that after finishing off the last squad in the area, she and every other person in the game except Danny was immediately required to leave the Krong Province. This is one of forty provinces for the entire Eurasian gaming population, and Danny now has it entirely to himself.

[“]So, Have Eric, Leite and Clutzer really been accepted into Phoenix?” I still had trouble believing that they ditched me. They just couldn’t have, whatever Hellfire may say.

“Yes, but not all. A few days ago we were approached by several beginner-level players who had First Kill. This really piqued my interest, so I personally oversaw their testing.”

“Testing? What’s that?”

“Identification of their abilities. Eric turned out to be an excellent tank and he’s already been sent for a leveling boost. Clutzer’s a decent DD. But Leite didn’t pass the trial. He makes a pretty average DD and we decided not to take him. Now we’re looking for Karachun to assess his abilities.”

“An item doesn’t make the person. If you have clumsy hands, no amount of gear will help. We gave Leite a chance, but he didn’t take it.”

“Fine, another question. What is a Phoenix Master?” I asked nonchalantly. You can relax, Oh Gorgeous One. This just made for another point against joining Phoenix. So I am supposed to think that Eric and Clutzer are now in the clan and even came out with a full report… Yeah, right, they just ran in and typed it all up, especially about the non-existent second place and Leite’s pauldrons. So, it looks like Karachun was the one you spoke to… But he doesn’t know about the fifth place or Leite’s sword.

This is pretty clever and I like it.

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Trap”

Where I’ve Been

I think this 2-3 week (depending how you count it) blackout is probably the longest period of inactivity this blog has had since launching in February 2017. Second year anniversary coming up, so I guess nearly letting it die is how we’re celebrating. It’s gotten so bad that I didn’t even notice that other blog I used to contribute to made a new post about struggling from underneath the burden of his loving wife, adorable children, prestigious university degree, and stable employment to get back to what really matters: Blogging. A post which went up like two weeks ago. Even though it’s one of like five blogs in my WordPress feed. It was still on my front page when I finally logged in, that’s how uncluttered that feed is, I just hadn’t logged in since forever.

The reason I’ve been so far behind is mainly because I really wanted to get the Pathfinder version of Petals and Thorns out to my backers before New Year’s, and once that didn’t happen, as soon as possible afterwards. Illness, freelancers of dubious quality, and a misestimation of my own ability to do lots of work in the dead of winter contributed to falling behind schedule, but now the Pathfinder version is out and I have no firm deadline for the Fantasy Grounds release. I’d like to keep to my January/February release window if possible, of course, but unlike the other versions, backers were warned up front that the release date was tenuous, so I don’t feel the need to obsessively prioritize that release should it fall behind schedule.

I don’t have any deadlines breathing down my neck anymore, so I’m going to try and get the Kartoss Gambit wrapped up. I’m also going to think about whether I want to continue LitRPG reviews right away when I do, though. I definitely don’t want to leave Kartoss hanging midway through, but I’m kind of getting to the point where I think I’ve said just about everything I have to say on the current state of the genre and it’s probably best to start looking at other things. Probably readthroughs of other books, but possibly TV shows or something instead. I’d like an excuse to get back into video editing, and while I probably don’t have time for it, a show where I hack together clips of an episode of [show] with reaction commentary is something I’d like to try doing sometime.

Also, at some point in the last couple of weeks WordPress decided that their creator-facing interface needed a hideous shade of dull pink instead of blues and oranges. It’s a lot less generic but it also looks awful. I don’t think it affects your actual experience at all, I just wanted to kvetch about it.

On a happier note, some numbers that I planned on posting about early in January before early in January became dedicated entirely to getting Kickstarter rewards out: 2018 saw this blog getting over 12,000 views from over 6,000 visitors, which is over double the numbers from 2017. That’s still not even close to Big Deal numbers, but at least they’re moving in the right direction, and fairly rapidly at that.