Tips for playing Chronicles of the Shattered Empires  adventures online

The following is a compilation of tips for playing the Chronicles of the Shattered Empires campaign adventures online. Thanks to everyone who contributed to and reviewed the document!

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Last updated 09/02/2010.

A detailed update history can be found below.

Playing a CSE adventure in any online tool is essentially no different than playing an adventure from any other game system. However, there are two areas which have required different or additional treatment: die rolling, and tracking clock ticks and who acts on them in combat..

Die Rolling

AIM and tools with limited die rollers

For tools like AIM, where only a single type of die can be rolled at the same time, there's no way to get around multiple die rolling commands when two different types of dice must be rolled. However, when it's possible to roll both non-exploding and exploding dice of the same type in a single roll, use the convention that the last die rolled is the Attribute (exploding) die. So, if your Attribute die for an Attack roll is a d10, then roll the attack as //rolls-dice3-sides10. The first two d10s rolled are thus the Action Roll, and the last is the Attribute roll. If the first two are both 10s, you have a Critical Success; if both 1s, a Critical Failure. If the third die is a 10, it explodes and you roll another d10. For damage, if both your weapon die and your Attribute die are d8, roll //rolls-dice2-sides8, and the second d8 is designated as the Attribute die and can explode.


MapTool die rolling is more flexible in its syntax and allows you to specify both multiple types of dice, and which ones explode. The trick there is that when you have all of the die types the same but only one explodes, you must designate it separately. So the first example above is represented by the command [2d10+1d10e] in MapTool, where "e" designates the exploding die. The command for the second example is [1d8+1d8e]. Finally, an Action Skill Roll where your Attribute die is a d6 is represented by the command [2d10+1d6e].

Combat Clock Tick Tracking

Online, there are two issues with tracking clock ticks: first, everyone needs to see the Master Clock, and second, at least the GM needs to see on what tick everyone next acts. The problem online, if you are not using a voice-based system to play, is that getting everyone to speak up when their tick rolls around, or knowing which ticks can be skipped, can be awkward.

Google Spreadsheets

With a tool such as Google spreadsheets, the easiest method is to add two columns to one side of the map grid - one for PC / Threat name, Initiative Pool, and Quickness Attribute value (the latter two pieces of information for easily resolving ties); and one for the next tick on which the creature acts. Strain and recovery values can be put in parentheses after the tick value, and the player (or GM) updates this column at the end of their turn. An example of this is below; note that the Master Clock is also included in the list so that everyone can see it.

This is what the two side columns looked like during a recent battle.
Character / Threat
Next Tick
Georg (3,6)
Rashida (4,8)
Cora (3,7)
Falx (3,7)
Pliss'kin (3,7)
Dal (3,7)
Soleke (3,6)
12 (+3)
BBEG (5,)
12 (+1)
BBEG2 (3,)

From this you can tell that we're on clock tick 2. On tick 3, Rashida will act before Georg (given that her Initiative Pool is higher). On tick 4, Falx and BBEG2 will act. Note that Threats don't have Quickness Attributes, so I've been resolving ties simply by letting the PC go first. You can also tell that both Soleke and BBEG either cast a spell or used a weapon trick or technique, and act on 12 with either a Strain or Recovery time.


Currently there is no MapTool framework for CSE (see CSE Framework for MapTool for details on the ongoing work to create one), and so there is no Initiative panel that automatically tracks initiative order as there is for D&D 4e. MapTool also does not have an easy way to update the map with information, as above. For now, there is no way to make the tick information easily available to players and the GM, but that also is being worked on.

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New material copyright Maryrita Steinhour 2007,2010 with thanks to all contributors!