Thursday, December 31, 2009

22 Years Ago Today

I walked into the Waldenbooks at College Mall in Bloomington, IN, with $30 in pocket. I saw these two books:

I had no idea what they were for -- just that they were a game of some sort. I liked Star Wars, I liked games, and each book cost fifteen bucks.

$15 + $15 = SOLD.

Aaah, yes.

22 years ago today.

Cyberpunk Cities Revisited

Not much time for this post, but -- here's some cyberpunk inspiration I've had lately.

You heard that Dubai is in financial trouble, right? What would happen if the companies building those crazy-ass resorts suddenly all went bankrupt -- who'd move in? What would happen? Wouldn't that be a kickin' setting for a cyberpunk game -- an extravagant metropolis on the skids, fancy hotels converted to apartment blocks full of your typical cyberpunk characters? Hmmm...

Yesterday I mentioned that thing about La Movida Madrileña, and how pop culture exploded all over Madrid after Franco blah blah blah? You'd hafta play fast and loose with your future history, but it strikes me that you could use that as a hell of another premise for your cyberpunk setting: a culture released from opression that can suddenly go crazy and do whatever the hell it wants -- and there's cyberware.

Hmm. Crap! Gotta go back to work!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

El Wave-o New-o; or, ¡Esta Noche Todo Mundo A La Calle!"

Damn, there's some pretty good Spanish-language pop, synthpop and New Wave. Why the hell haven't I dipped into this well before?! Was it because of the sour taste left in my mouth by Timbiriche's cover of "99 Luftballons" in 1984 (or so)?

Actually I have blog reader José Viruete to thank. See, back a few months ago when I posted about a Las Mexican Go-G-- er, I mean, Flans, José dropped me a link to a video of a Spanish New Wave band performing on Italian TV.

I was hooked.

And it's not just because the singer had such nice legs; I liked the song. I liked the song A LOT. I've visited that link a ton of times; I even played the song for my daughter.

It was only a matter of time before I said to myself, "Okay, so...what else?" Thus I started myself a Pandora station for the stuff, aaaaand...

So it looks like there was a New Wave-esque movement in Madrid back in the late 70's/early 80's, born out of the sudden freedom from Franco's regime. It's much deeper a thing than I have summarized here (click the link and you'll get a better taste), but the bottom line is this: It produced a ton of synthpop I'd never heard of, and to me, that's like suddenly getting a millionh dollars in gold from a team of laser-powered dancing bears.

And it's not just out of Spain. There's been some pretty good stuff from all over Latin America, too -- Mexico produced a modern act called Belanova, which I've approved on my Pandora station, and there's stuff from Argentina and all over the place. I'm just getting started.

And the best part?


Que tal, Alaska...bien, bien, y tu?

Friday, December 25, 2009

"Merry Something To You"

Thanks to Mike for the tip.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm Tired Of How This Blog Looks.

I can't find a template that I like, though, and I suck at coding -- AND I can't decide how it should look.

The D6 System And Why I Love It (For Moni)

Yeah! That's right! I'm answering a comment with a post of its own, again! It's MY blog, suckas, and I DO AS I PLEASE! I AM THE DUKE OF NEW YORK!

...yeah, okay. So new blog reader Moni asked, "What would you say are the best aspects of the system?". Good question, Moni (and welcome to the blog, by the way) -- not least because I feel it is important that I am able to articulate my opinions on stuff instead of just spraying them around like water from a firehose.'s what I would say are the best aspects of the system. Got your reading feet on?

D6, in all of its incarnations (from the old Ghostbusters game that became D6 to the latest stuff) has never been big on fiddly-bits and rules. They've always been clear-cut: Roll as many dice as your skill code, add 'em up, and see if you beat the difficulty number. In some cases (combat), you figure the difference between one roll and the other. There's not a lot of room for error or doubt in that.

Read the last paragraph again. There, you know 75% of the rules.

Few things really require stat blocks in D6. Those that do aren't very demanding. Once you get a feel for what levels of competency are described by what die codes (1D feeble, 2D average, 3D gettin' it done, 4D awesome sauce, 5D badass, etc.), NPCs can be thrown onto the page in a trice. Dig:

HAMPTON LANGER, Gunslinger of Mars
All stats 2D except: DEX 3D, Pistol 4D+2, Dodge 3D+1, STR 3D+2.
Armored duster (+3 physical), Radium 6-shooter 4D damage.

It took me longer to decide on "Gunslinger of Mars" than to write down the skills. Hampton here is now fully statted out for whatever shenanigans in which he's meant to engage. I can now worry more about what he looks like, how he talks, and how he's gonna die.

Seriously, all the perks and complications you see in Mini Six? We never had those back in the day. They're nice, I like them -- but leaving them out ain't gonna break anything. Trust me, I made do without 'em from 1988 to, like, 2002.

Well, Moni, I hope I answered your question. If I have not, then just say: "No, Doctor Rotwang!, you have not." I will try again. I'm a big boy, I can take it.

Still, the best answer I can give you is this: Go play with it.

You'll see.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Falling In Love Again: Mini Six

You know of course by now about Mini Six, AntiPaladin Games' streamlined, condensed, totally free game built upon the D6 SRD. You read the blogs; nothing gets by you.

What you might not know is that I have downloaded it, read it, and pronounced it AWESOME.

There was a time in my life when I wasn't a fan of the D6 system, but that was prior to 31 December 1987 when I purchased the first edition STAR WARS rulebook, so...never mind. Anyway, the game is OGL now and the designers are off and running with it.

This thing has it all, and it mixes rules from 1st and 2nd Ed. STAR WARS with stuff from the later D6 iteration to terrific effect. You'll get character generation, optional perks and complications, basic rules, some equipstuff, a bestiary, some stock NPCs, vehicle combat, magic...even tips for customizing the game's components to your heart's desire. Seriously, you can totally run a campaign out of just those 7 pages.

I was glad to see a few neat 1st Ed SW concepts revived in Mini Six. I'm thinking specifically of vehicle move ratings being expressed not as absolute values but as dice, which are rolled along with piloting skill dice for the resolution of chases. I hadn't realized that I missed the abstraction of vehicle speed; somehow, reading the brief but totally serviceable rules in Mini Six, I suddenly thought: "Oh, yeah...!"

There are a few things I'd change, but not many (mainly, base melee damage dice and scaling bonus dice) . Still and all, I don't see anything in there that doesn't work just fine as it is.

If you've never tried a D6 game, or if you just want a 7-page condensation of what you know is a badass cinematic game...the link is up there. You may use it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Bring Your Beef To WRASSLETOWN!

Okay, so you know how you wake up in the morning and your brain is totally like "I'm awake! No, I'm asleep! Burgundy flotilla bears!" and all kinds of dumb stuff is liable to fly into your consciousness?

That's how I thought of Wrassletown.

Actually, I only thought of the word -- somewhere between my bed and the shower (approx. 7 feet), and after thinking the words "Figby & Sarp", who...I dunno who they are. Anyway, I got in the shower and cogitated on Wrassletown.

Wrassletown is a place for your Mutant Future campaign. Situated in a fairly safe valley, it is THE destination for entertainment, commerce and even law. Sort of like Bartertown, yes.

It began as a travelling circus, a group of able-bodied survivors roaming together for safety. They didn't have much to trade at the scattered towns they found in their travels, but one of its members, The Ultimate Hogan (the two-headed mutant result of the apocalypse-caused fusion of Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior), suggested they might be able to make some trades and some friends by putting on a wrestling show to amaze and amuse the locals. After all, just because you live in an irradiated wasteland where the living envy the dead, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy watching a tentacled rat-man pile-drive a walking cactus into the mat -- right?

It worked.

Within just a few years, word of the travelling wrestling show got around, and The Ultimate Hogan (quickly become the de facto leader of the group) saw the benefits of settling down. They sought out a valley and set up shop. A permanent ring was erected, tents were battened down, and the people came. Before long, traders and merchants came, too -- Wrassletown was born.

Someone (search me, I dunno who) had the idea that if mighty battles of good versus evil could be fought in the ring, then maybe common, every-day disputes could be solved that way, too. Now, those who sought a law of sorts -or justice at any rate- could come to Wrassletown and solve their problems in the squared circle. this point, the reader might be -as is the author- tempted to flesh this idea out, to consider the ramifications of this rough island of civilization in the post-apocalyptic wilderness. Still, the perrceived need might be a false one. After all, think about this:

...I think we're really done here, don't you?

Special thanks to Leaky Pete for this whole "The Ultimate Hogan" craziness.

First, Because I'm Thinking Of It: Elizabeth Perkins Is Hawt

The TV here inna break room is showing Big, and it's the part where they go on the date, and she's wearing the black dress, and ROWR.

Okay, real post now.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Time was I would try to insert some big-ass pantheon into my game worlds, only to discover that I could not reconcile them logically with the way my game worlds worked.
Screw that.
To preserve my sanity (not to mention my interest ion the whole endeavor), I have decided to go with a mere three deities and one legendary figure.
To further simplify matters, these three deities have no spheres of influence -- they simply represent different ways in which the people of my setting view and understand the universe. In a way, they are the embodiment of alignments.
The three deities worshiped in my world are:
  • Atarath, a Lawful-Neutral god who demands obedience and service;
  • Marnir The Ready, a Neutral-Good figurehead who embodies goodwill; and
  • Suggol, a Chaotic-Evil icon of the world's ultimate lack of compassion and of its doom.
The legendary figure is Lurick, The God Of Righteous Battle. He doesn't count as a god at the moment, though, because he's lost at the moment.


Atarath, called The Law-Giver, is believed the creator of the world and of man. He is also the ultimate judge. He is considered all-powerful. Legend has it that he gave life unto man in exchange for obedience and service, saying that man may prosper and multiply so long as he does so in the name of The Law-Giver. To best accomplish this, he gave unto man certain Laws to follow. Failure to follow these Laws constitutes sin, and sinners are judged harshly by Atarath...and by his priests.
Luckily for the sinners, Atarath is a rather absent god, and only rarely does he come to mete out justice -- and his appearances are capriciously timed, at that.
The biggest thing to fear from Atarath is actually his priests, who have taken it upon themselves to be his personal representatives on earth. It is up to them to interpret and enforce his laws. The priesthood is authorized to dispense most punishments, but corporal punishments are the sole province of clerics and paladins.
Atarath's symbol is a thundercloud with a lightning bolt.

Worship of Atarath

As one might expect, worshiping this deity involves strict adherence to laws, proscriptions, customs and bans. The devotion shown by his worshipers is directly proportional to the proximity of someone who will call them out on slacking off.
Atarath's is the most widely-practiced religion in the land. This is for a simple reason: it's the one that demands the least effort. Most people find it easier to follow rules than to take their own initiative (as Marnir's followers do), so they strive to avoid punishments both corporeal and spiritual by shrugging and going along with Atarath's rules.
Many of the Laws are simple ones, and for the most part are simply common sense: Don't steal, don't kill, don't commit adultery, etcetera. Other laws, however, are more esoteric, and some fringe on the bizarre -- devout worshipers of Atarath may not wear red and black together, for instance, nor can they eat meat of beef when it's raining, and must cast their old boots over a cliff before they wear a new pair. Not all laws are so whimsical, however; people have been slain or worse for giving aid to faeries.
Given that Atarath himself is never around, it's unclear which laws are set by him and which are merely creations of the priesthood. The Scrolls of Law set forth all of the rules, but if Atarath himself is the author, he's not talking.
The Church of Atarath is powerful both politically and with the populace, and its temples are widespread.


Atarath rarely, if ever, makes an appearance on the material plane. When he does, it's as a raging thunderhead that drags much sturm und drang in its wake. The thunderhead glows brightly from within, as lightning constantly twists and lashes inside it. Wrathful destruction usually follows (he usually only shows up when he's mad), but on occasion good things come from his visits, like bountiful crops, the banishment of diseases, the blessing of roads so that bandits cannot tread them, and so on.

Priests, Clerics and Paladins

Priests or Atarath are commonly found tending to a community, serving at a temple. They can cast no spells and receive no martial training. They function mainly as moral compasses for the communities they serve. Thankfully, many who are called to the priesthood are of a benevolent nature and as such really do have peoples' best interests at heart; these folk hew to the laws out of a desire to do good. Some few are bad apples, and are drawn to the priesthood for the power it affords them, but these are rare cases.
Clerics of Atarath work as missionaries, traveling abroad and spreading The Law to the Lawless. They function as normal clerics do, but can cast an extra Detect Evil and a Detect Chaos 1/day. In addition, they can turn undead as though they were 1 level higher.
Atarath's paladins are a fearsome foe. They embody his ideals in the staunchest, most devout of ways, and are authorized as judge, jury and executioner. They are as pious as they are relentless. Paladins of Atarath must be Lawful Good, and they must act that way lest they lose all their powers. Once per day, a paladin of Atarath may pray before a battle, effectively granting himself the effects of a Bless spell for three rounds.

Marnir The Ready

Marnir The Ready, The Friend-To-All, He Who Calls To Serenity, is a thoroughly benevolent power dedicated to harmony and sharing. Marnir has no real church or doctrine -- just followers and a general ideology. He is called "The Ready" for his and his followers' eagerness to assist those in need.
What Marnir espouses is not so much a doctrine as it is simply a way of life, guided by a few precepts which are regarded as universally true: That freedom and personal rights are sacred, that every living being has the right to be alive and to seek happiness, and that the only way to do wrong is to actively deny these rights to others. They are not judgmental people but they are easily stirred to action.
Marnir's symbol is of two hands clasping.

Worship of Marnir

As can be imagined, Marnir doesn't really expect anyone to worship him; he just wants people to find the goodness in themselves and to lead by example. The practice of the tenets is called Marnir's Way.
Those who follow this ideology tend to be altruistic and generous people. Some are more active in their generosity than others; most people are content simply to stay out of each others' way, but many look for ways to help others. Displays of this altruism can vary from simply sharing food when one has enough to share, to outright self-sacrifice. Marnir doesn't expect any of the latter, of course, but he has a way of smiling upon it and rewarding it in one way or another.
Human nature being what it is, it's not surprising that Marnir's Way is not very popular -- at least not as much so as the fear of Atarath. Proselytizing is not Marnir's Way, and many who try to lead by example notice that there are few who actually follow. Add to this the fact that Marnir threatens no damnation from which one needs saving, and the result is that people mostly decide that Marnir's Way is all wasted effort.
What these people fail to notice, however, is that Marnir's Way is its own reward -- simply put, benevolent people are usually well favored by their peers. In addition, those who prove exemplary altruists are often blessed by Marnir himself with a variety of boons, ranging from perfect health and uncanny knowledge to, in some cases, extravagant wealth and even powers beyond those of mortal men.


Marnir makes more appearances on the material plane than Atarath has -- or ever will. No one will ever know how often he appears, though, because he manifests as a normal human being with an average appearance. The only evidence that proves it is Marnir is that he disappears very suddenly, and leaves a ring of emerald-green light where he stood. (Incidentally, any illusionist spell designed to replicate this effect fails outright.)

Priests, Clerics and Paladins

There are no priests of Marnir The Ready. Since Marnir's Way is one of personal initiative, priests are antithesis -- there's no dogma to learn or teach. Likewise, there are no paladins, because gearing up for war and going around smiting people isn't really a Marnirite's style. And anyway, if someone really wants to dress up in shiny armor and ride around on a charger with coloful pennons aflutter, then why shouldn't they? Just so long as no one gets hurt.

Clerics of Marnir, however, are plenty. Like knights errant, they adventure to seek wrongs to right and rights to defend. Adventuring clerics of Marnir will always share of the riches they gain, keeping for themselves only one-tenth of the value of their loot. The rest is spent freely and readily in securing food, shelter and other necessities for those who need them. It is not at all uncommon for a Marnirite cleric to emerge from a dungeon with a sack full of treasure, go back to town, and arrange a big-ass feast for all and sundry. What the hell else is he gonna do with it?
Clerics of Marnir are as normal clerics, except that they can Heal Light Wounds and Create Food for free 1/day per level.


The Lurker In The Dark, The Hunger Unstoppable, The Bringer of Nothing -- these are names for Suggol, a loathsome beast who exemplifies an indifferent, uncaring world. Legend says that Suggol will one day chew his way through the Seven Pits, and emerge into the world of men and light -- whereupon he will literally consume it all, in an orgiastic feast of chaos and destruction. With such a doom inherent in the world, does anything at all really matter?

Worship of Suggol

It can be argued that declaring oneself a Cultist of Suggol has little, if nothing, to do with espousing a philosophy of life, and everything to do with having an excuse to exercise one's animal nature. To the Cultist, it's every man for himself; selfishness and self-gain are the only reasons to do anything, and consequences be damned. In the end, nothing matters; until then, do as thou wilt and screw everyone else.
Suggol itself (it has no sex, being simply a gibbering engine of destruction) does indeed lie captive in an extraplanar prison, and it is trying to eat its way out. That much the cultists have got right. However, whether or not Suggol is having any success in this endeavor is unknown. The Bringer Of Nothing may be striving in vain, or it might be moments away from bursting through and eating the sun. Who knows? That's what makes it scary, and what gives its cultists their drive.
Cultists of Suggol meet in Covens, and hold their services (such as they are) in places of desecration and ruin. They observe no rituals but instead engage in activities of a dubious and often horrendous nature. They eschew order and see it as their duty to sow chaos, chiefly aiming to engender fear and destruction. They pray to Suggol only to ask him to delight upon their enormities. Human sacrifices are common.
Thankfully, the actual outward worship of Suggol is not so common. The Church of Atarath is active in the persecution and destruction of what covens they can find. As a result, Suggoltic worship is most common in the wilderness, away from retribution but within the reach of victims. Even Marnirites, whose tolerance is legendary, will hunt them down.
Many followers do so in secret, and limit themselves to less outward expressions of their beliefs. Thieves, assassins and other such unsavories will pay homage to The Lurker, while common folk who just don't give a damn about anyone but themselves will use The Hunger Unstoppable as justification for their pettiness.
Suggol's symbol is an open, many-toothed maw, from which a baleful two-lobed eye stares.


You don't want to know.

Priests, Clerics and Paladins

Suggolites can't stay organized long enough to form orders, but that doesn't stop them from trying.
Every Suggolite considers himself a priest of his or her own personal depravity, but there are no ranks or any such order to follow. Individuals may become well known for their accomplishments, and thus stand out as objects of admiration to the others; this earns them favors, and in some cases even respect. Still, there's always someone with a dagger at the ready, lusting for the blood of the mighty.
Surprisingly, there are clerics, even though the deity itself is too far removed in the cosmos to provide any direct powers and benefits. Unknown to its clerics, Suggol is not the source of their spells and powers. Instead, these powers come from a place on earth -- a cavern far away in Maknar, where Suggol's last bodily incarnation lies in state. Strange energies emanate from this place, and certain evil folk are attuned to them. These are the clerics of Suggol, and they see it as their duty to wreak even more havoc than they could before.
Paladins of Suggol, perhaps best termed anti-paladins, also exist and are likewise powered by the same giant carcass. Anti-paladins become such at the end of an unspeakable ritual (the only one the Suggolites observe, and adapted quite by accident from an ancient spellbook), gaining nasty horrible versions of a paladin's abilities. The paladin him- or herself becomes physically changed by this process, and is therafter posessed of a rather unpleasant physical trait of some sort: A hideous odor, glowing red eyes, a twisted face, or somesuch. Then it's off into the world to mess things up and generallybe a bastard, for fun.

Lurick, The God Of Righteous Battle

So! Why is Suggol currently locked away in the transdimensional pokey? You can thank Lurick for that.
Long ago, there were many gods, and Lurick was one of them. Lurick, being The God Of Righteous Battle, stood for every good reason for picking up a weapon and using it. Much of his lore is forgotten, but this much is known: Suggol was once disturbingly close to eating everything, and it was Lurick who stopped him. With the help of another lost deity, Aiara the Enchantress, Suggol was banished into the void.
After this, the histories get sketchy. At some point in the chronologies of old, Lurick vanishes without explanation. To be fair, little is known of this distant past, and none of it is likely to be important to he campaign.
Of course, I might change my mind and decide that some of it is, which I'm entitled to do because I'm the GM.

Yeah, I Know.


Friday, October 23, 2009

StarGate: Universe is on right now.

And I'm posting on my blog.

What's that tell you?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Quck Digression

We'll return to Snot's adventures in T&T land, you bet. First, though, while I'm thinking about it...

Anyone who knows me knows of my obsession with 80's pop culture. Many also know that I spent the majority of that wondrous decade in Mexico City, and that I have a very melancholy fondness for the place.


The Eighties,, in Mexico City. One might wonder -- what was that like...?

...kind of like this, really, which goes to show why I think about it so damn much.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Snot Down The Hole: More T&T Shenanigans! (Part One)

Enough of us were free yesterday that it was decided to reconvene at Leaky Pete's for gaming. When the call went out for a game to be chosen, the closest I got to a request was for more Tunnels & Trolls. Seeing as how my wife was still wanting some sweet, sweet dungeon-crawling misadventure, I took my 7.5 box along and away we went.

The crew was the same as last time, in players if not characters. My wife wasn't real thrilled with her last character, so she switched to Ismir, a 2nd-level elf rogue with a Swashbuckling talent. Also, I forgotten to pack up Mr Party Gorilla's character, Glorkk, so he rolled up a new Wolf Troll and thus was Glerk born. No big loss, really, since Glerk ended up with a strength of 52 and 40 Combat Adds. Fine by me.

I quickly set the scene: fleeing the disaster they engineered last time, the four adventurers peeled out of Three Chickens and headed elsewhere -- in this case, to the Village of Flatdog, also in the Frankie Valley. Along the way, Glork was magiclly teleported away and replaced by Glerk; and sometime after arriving in Flatdog, Maaren dumped the other three (a good move) and Ismi, who had adventured with Snot before, was recognized by the little booger and had no choice but to hang around him. There, that was the party. Done.

[By the way, in case you're wondering why the village was called "Flatdog", my reason was a simple one: Leaky Pete was dog-sitting a Corgi named Grunt. It's often handy to let your immediate surroundings inspire you.]

Speaking of parties, Flatdog was holding its annual Festival of Clobbero -- a feast to commemorate the coming of the hero Clobbero, who long ago chased a dragon away. Mirth and good cheer was everywhere, what with the coloful pennons and the girls dancing and the kids chasing each other with sticks (re-enacting the mighty hero's deed).

The PCs were in the Tavern of the Black Mare, whereupon they encountered a VERY famous local fellow named Polydor the Bard, whom I described as "looking like a ketchup bottle and a mustard bottle had a baby, gave it alute and sent it out for voice lessons".

Polydor waited for the crowd to settle down before dropping the adventure hook, to the tune of "Greensleeves": That long ago, the wizard Zantos ("The Spellmaker!" suggested Party Gorilla, and it suck) had become evil in his old age but recanted on his death bed, and that he had been interred in a secret tomb not far from here. Furthermore, the location of the tomb was rumoured to have been found in The Ravine of Durdin's Rest, two days' ride from Flatdog. Then, the crowd roared and applauded, Polydor left with some groupies, and the hook was baited.

Before departing, the party wished to stock up on supplies. They purchased what Jake called "The ACME Adventuring Pack", which means,uh, you know. Zando, being a non-comtatant with 2 whole Combat Adds, expressed a desire to hire a shield maiden to protect him.

This pleased me. It pleased me greatly.

It pleased me greatly because I love the idea of hirelings and henchmen. I din't know why; I just think it's cool. I get to make up my own quirky NPC adventurers who get to help out in a pinch, and also get killed first. It's a rare opportunity, so I took it...and made magic.

I quickly created Kirsil The Grim, Late of the Marauders of the Twilight Hills. Kirsil appeared in the game as ablonde warrior woman with viking tresses, a horned helmet, shield, spear -- the whole works.

Oh, and she's 18 years old and with the looks of a high school cheerleader.

Zando quickly propositioned her as an employee, to which she replied, "What, ho! I readily hear your pleading voice -- let us now hear the tinkling of your silver!"

Yes, I made her talk like Thor.

After insulting her by offering her "Two silver now, and ten when we return" and assuming that she was pregnant (Zando thinks that all human females are pregnant at all times), they settled on a share of the loot. She made the acquaintance of the others, looking down her nose at Snot but finding much admiration for Glerk ("Verily, mighty Troll-friend! If you adventure with this dark Elf, then truly he must be worthy!"), although Glerk just kinda stared at her blankly. A lot.

With all that settled, they made their way across the valley to The Ravine Of Durbin's Rest or whatever I called it. They found the ravine, they found the hole, and made a plan to delve into it. A plan which was to result in a wet troll, a wetter goblin, a battle with some stone elves, severe heatstroke and two scrapes with death -- both on Snot's part, poor little guy with like a 9 or 10 CON.

(I'm hungry)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

In Ancient Rome, There Was A Poem

WHOA-HOA, NELLY! Git on up there, lil' dogie! Sure as shootin', we're...uh...on the range, and...


...yeah, okay. Hey! Remember how the other day in the comments section of this post about how I decided to do my Spelljammer game with Savage Worlds, reader Forge said,

Welcome back. This is a very cool idea! One question though; what about D6?

Yeah, you're totally right, Forge -- what about D6? 'Specially since I'd already mused on that very idea before?

Well, here's the thing.

I've honestly waffled back and forth on what system to use for this game. I thought, hey -- I could use Savage Worlds as easily as I could use D6, but then again, why not just use genreDiversion 3? Come to that, wouldn't Chaosium Basic Roleplaying do the job just as well? I mean, it IS a generic system...just like GURPS and HERO, both of which would also work for high adventure stuff with quick resolution if you made a few decisions up front. Then again, Spelljammer was orignally designed for AD&D 2nd Edition, and how far away is that from Swords & Wizardry -which would work just fine- or Castles & Crusades? Hell, that's SIEGE Engine land, so why wouldn't StarSIEGE fit the bill? Isn't it just as useful as Instant Game and, say, Fudge? Hey, that's just a step away from Fate 3.0, right? And doesn't THAT game remind me of Theatrix? Oh -- not to mention that Hollow Earth Expedition's Ubiquity system could pull it off...and, hey, 7th Sea is ALREADY a swashbuckling adventure system that I could --

... you see my conundrum. I could use any of those systems. I have them. Any one of them would do. I like them. I can make 'em do what I want. I considered ALL OF THEM (except 7th Sea, but that's only because I just now thought of it). So why, out of all of those, did I pick Savage Worlds?

Because I can only pick ONE GAME. I HAVE to. If I DON'T, then I'll NEVER START THE GAME. If this thing is going to happen, then I need to START IT, and not just spin my wheels, jackin' around, endlessly analyzing pros and cons and matching and weighing and measuring and --

-- bah. BAH!, I say. Every day I spend hemming and hawing -and that is what it is- is another delay.

So, Forge, the answer comes clear:

I am a spazz, but I listen to DEVO.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Subtlety Comics

My friend Yucky Gross (don't ask) bought a kids' "do-your-own-illustrations" calendar last year, and asked me to, uh, do her own illustrations in it. She gave me free reign to do with it as I pleased.

Here's what I drew for July 2009:

Monday, October 05, 2009

Battlestar Gatelactica: Spamblog

Look -- I'll try another episode or two of the new Stargate series. I really will. However, it's gonna be tough shaking the feeling that it's nBSG with a gate in it.

Meanwhile, Blogger has important nooz for me:

Your blog is marked as spam

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

We received your unlock request on October 5, 2009. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.

Granted -- this ain't The Wall Street Journal. But, still -- c'mon, man, spam?! What the hell characteristics could this thing possibly exhibit, which could be likened to a "spam blog"?

spam blogs [...] can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site.




Here follows a transcript of some adventure notes made 6/26/08. I have yet to run this.

An RPG Adventure or something

THE PREMISE: The PCs are a team of professional smugglers. They are charged with smuggling a pair of rare birds out of the exotic nation of Tanjukistan, wherever that is. They must acquire parakeets, take them across the border with Farmvania, and deliver them to their employer, whoever that is.

  1. The Royal Tanjukistanian Mounted Police, who all ride okapis (?!)
  2. A mysterious femme fatale who will try to double-cross them
  3. A rival smuggler team who wants the budgies for another employer
  4. Spock and the Electro-lettes
  5. A double-crossing team member
  6. Bennie & The Jets (?!)
  1. King Stoppoulossakis of Farmvania
  2. Donaldo de Trumpo
  3. King SOUVLAKI of Farmvbania
  4. A mysterious masked figure known only as "The Black Alpaca"
  5. Robin Meade, claiming to be Mary Hart
  6. For THAT matter, John Tesh
  1. John Tesh -- There, I think I'm done.
  2. A swarthy ne'er-do-well named Alboso El Dumblador
  3. Chichi Zapatos (sort of an evil pulp Charo) and her dwarf sidekick, Mondo Calcetin
  4. Avram Ben Bowling, Israeli Master Criminal

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Daughter's First Character

Well, it's actually her second, but this is the first time she rolled her own dice.

As I mentioned in the T&T actual play, our daughter sat with us while we played, and wasn't feeling too well. Turns out a broken collarbone is to blame (!!!), so kids -- don't run in the house.

Anyway, Lily saw everyone making characters and wanted to join in, so she went to get her dice and Mommy helped her roll up...

Sarah here is a 2nd-level Thief (well, a Rogue, technically) who is, in Lily's words, "a really good singer" (Nerdy Girl, aka "Mommy", prompted her with various questions which she then answered). The stats she rolled all by herself -- including the triple sixes that resulted in that Dex of 24. She was proud of that; she even told Grandma about it at the doctor's office yesterday.

Sarah also has some spells, written on the back of her sheet:

  • Rain
  • Sunshine
  • Wind
  • Mist
  • Fog
Lily declared these; you won't find 'em in the rulebook.

The best part came when I was getting everyone their weapon stats. "What weapon does Sarah have, Lily?" asked my wife. Without missing a beat, the kid replied:

"A lightsaber. And it's pink."

Those aren't in the rulebook either, but -- what the hell? Maybe they oughtta be. I originally said "3 dice", but I'll revise that.

Lily ended up not playing, what with being hurt and kinda bummed and all. But obviously we kept the character sheet, so that someday, she can play.

And, yes, she can have the spells and the lightsaber. They might come in handy!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chuckles' Revenge: A T&T Actual Play Report!

"Let's do an old-fashioned dungeon crawl!" said my wife, not just spontaneously and for no real reason but rather because we were having friends over yesterday but hadn't planned on entertainment shenanigans. "We haven't done one of those in a while." She's right; we haven't.

Eventually our friends showed up: Leaky Pete, The Jake With No Nickname and Party Gorilla. We sat around and jaw-jacked a while, hem-hawed about something to do and finally I said, "Screw it, how about I run a dungeon crawl with Tunnels & Trolls?" No one tried to punch me for suggesting it, so I handed out some papers and clipboards and grabbed my copy of 7.5.

In short order we had some characters rolled up:
  • Jake rolled up Zando, a 2nd-level Dark Elf Wizard (remember that in T&T 7+, characters can begin at higher levels if their attributes are high enough!) with a low tolerance for other kindred;
  • Leaky Pete again played Snot, a (very annoying) 2nd-level Goblin Rogue and possessor of Herschel the Crab-Slaying Hammer (not magical, but quite storied);
  • Nerdy Girl -my wife- rolled up Meraana, 1st-level Human Rogue with no spells; and
  • Party Gorilla created Glorkk, 4th-level Wolf-Troll Warrior, with an ungodly appetite and ungodlier Strength of 46.
[A fifth character was rolled up -- by my 5-year-old daughter. That, my friends, is a subject for a post all its own.]

The game began in the town of Elminster's Privy -- which was quickly changed to Rathelmet [pronounced "rat helmet"], because my wife thought i twas funnier. The players were alone in the Mopey Fish-Head Tavern, availing themselves of the wares (Glorkk picked up a whole cask of ale, tugged out the cork with his teeth and downed the whole thing, prompting Meraana to exclaim, "He's drinking straight from the bunghole!") when the door swung open and there, silhouetted in a sudden flash of lightning, stood the stubby form of a dwarf.

The Dwarf strode in and eyed the party. He wore a purple hood with a yellow tassel, which I described as looking like he had a Crown Royal bag on his head. "Are you adventurers?" he asked, at which Snot ran up and said, "Yes! There are Snot's Adventurers!"

He justified this by pointing out that he is Snot, the rest of the party travels with him, ergo they are Snot's adventurers. Well enough; the dwarf, who introduced himself as Grubble Hooch-hood, declared that he needed adventurers for a dangerous mission from which they might not come back. Grubble produced a map showing the Winter Mountains and the Valley of the Unknown Oaks. He explained that in the Winter Mountains was the ancient Dwarven Hall of the Mystic Heroes, long since lost to time, blah blah blah. Within its shadowy depths lay The Hammer of the Gods, and he needed it back. The PCs could keep anything else they found but the hammer was for him only. You know the drill.

Right away, Zando posited that they didn't need Grubble -- they could just go get the whole kaboodle and be done with it. Grubble insisted on coming with them, at least to the foot of the mountain, and hinted that if they skipped on him it'd go bad for them. They accepted the quest anyway; they promptly stole a wagon and two mules and were on their way.

Yes, it was that kind of game.

They rolled out of Rathelmet and were halfway to Bungleston when Zando, the wagon-driver, fell asleep and ran off the road -- and straight into a bandit ambush. There were 7 bandits, each with MR10; 3 had bows and were ready to shoot. The bandit leader help Zando at sword-point while the wily Dark Elf immediately sold Grubble out. "There's a dwarf in the back. He has a treasure map. You can have him; just let us go." One of the bandits went to check the back of the wagon...

Glorkk made his Luck roll and woke up in time to see the bandit pull open the flap -- and thus did the troll quickly put into use his Ignite Belches Into Fireballs With A Spark From Flint And Steel In The Fingertips Of His Glove talent, rated at 27. He rolled doubles.

The bandit exploded into flames, and ran off screaming into the night. The other bandits then attacked.

Here's where T&T combat breaks down a little for me. The bandits had MR10, but they had bows; missile attacks are made with a Dex SR (Saving Roll). So what's an MR10 bandit's Dex? I just called it 10, because whatever. Their three attacks missed, and Zando was scot-free. He cast "Hold That Pose!" on the bandit leader, while Glorkk went into melee combat...

By himself, Glorkk generated a huge Hit-Point Total -- more than enough to wipe out the 5 bandits who were still able to participate in melee. He hopped out of the back of the wagon, waving about a huge metal club with spikes on it, and flung bandits hither and yon while their leader stood with sword in hand, blinking absently, trying to remember who he was and what he was doing. Soon, he was trussed up and threatened to be fed to Glorkk.

The bandit bought his way out of indentured snackitude by agreeing to lead the party to his hideout. He led them to th-- well, actually, Glorkk held him out in front of himself ("Medieval GPS", quoth Mr Party Gorilla) and thus led them to a clearing in the forest, where stood a ruined villa and the bandits' hideout. In a cellar, they found treasure: a crossbow with 20 bolts, a set of 5 golden stud earrings with inset crystals, and a mithril ring with an onyx stone -- which they couldn't identify until Meraana made a successful Roguery SR, and then she and Zando argued over it until she claimed it by putting it on. Ha!

Glorkk, meanwhile, found treasure all his own: under a loose floorboard in the cellar, he found some jerky, a cask of wine and a trussed-and-gagged 17-year-old girl, who woke up, began to scream, and made it very hard indeed to enjoy his fortuitous repast. The bandit sheepishly suggested that he was "done with her" and that she could be set free...but Glorkk had other ideas.

He decided to make her his pet, and to call her Chuckles.

Yes, as in the title of this post.

Chuckles eventually passed out, and the party rested. (The bandit, by the way, took several punches to the face from Meraana, and was tossed under the floorboards in the girls' stead.) Snot took first watch, and was witness to a mighty battle between a bear and a beehive. The beehive ended up being flung at the hideout, prompting Snot to make a Luck SR so as to avoid getting hit...
...on which he rolled a total of 40.

Well! Needless to say, Snot dove for cover, an act which caused him to unwittingly kick a snake high into the air; the snake hit the beehive, wrapped around it, changed its trajectory and sent it rolling downhill to a nearby stream.

That's some luck, right there.

The next day, the trip continued. Chuckles alternated between screaming and passing out, then finally begging and pleading to be fed -- but of course no one could understand her, because she was gagged. Glorkk picked a squirrel off a tree and tried to feed it to her; the squirrel's wild clawing ripped her gag off, allowing her to scream "LET ME GO, YOU SONS OF--" at which point Glorkk squeezed the squirrel a little to hard, spraying, uh, squirrel all over her.
He then gagged her and licked his fingers. ("Squirrel fruit good!", he remarked.)

He then tied a bit of rope around Chuckles' neck -"For walkies," he explained- aaaaaaaaaand that's when I said, "Okay, make a Luck save."

He failed it. He failed it with a brittle, wet crack.

My wife shot me a look that said, "Did you HAVE to go that far?!" I replied, "Don't worry, I have a plan."

They tossed Chuckles' inert form into the wagon and kept moving until evening, where they decided to stop at The Buxom Strumpet in a town called Three Chickens.
(I was making this up as I went along. Can you tell?)

At this point, Grubble silently decided that he'd had enough of this group of reprobates, and announced that he'd take care of getting Chuckles buried proper. Meraana tried to go with him, but he refused to be accompanied. Naturally, she let him go on his own...but tailed him.

She watched Grubble Hooch-hood walk over to a nearby temple and go inside. He came back out with a priest and motioned back down the road towards the tavern. The priest went back in and Grubble walked off; the priest re-emerged with a pair of acolytes and hurried towrad the tavern. Meraana then tried to pick up Grubble's trail, but a roll of 3 on a SR attempt is a fumble in T&T, so...the dwarf was gone.

Back at the Buxom Strumpet, the head priest (a man who looked like cross between Clint Eastood and a block of granite) walked in and started asking questions about the dead body out in the wagon. With deftness and good rolling, Zando and Snot pinned the rap on Grubble Hooch-hood -- and the priest bought it. Matter of fact, he even placed the Blessing of Paladar (whoever the hell THAT is; I just rolled the name up) upon the party of liars, murderers and thieves!

Ah, well. Dirty little thrills.

The priests went off to do some buryin', and Meraana caught up with the others and told 'em that Grubble was MIA. No dwarf, no map; no map, no booty. They decided that Grubble needed to be found.

Glorkk fell asleep and had an ominous dream. His usual reverie of ale rivers and clouds made of floating turkey legs was shattered by a scream and the horrifying countenance of an emaciated human female. Hmmm...

Zando cast a spell on Snot -- one called "Where'd You Go?" or something like that, which would cause Snot to feel a jab of pain if a dwarf came within 100' (the base is 50', but Jake rolled real good so I doubled it). I called for another Luck roll from Snot, which also rolled real high -- so high, indeed, that although he heard "Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's Off To Work We Go...!" approaching the tavern, he also heard, "I hear the beer's bad!" and "I ain't goin' nowhere the beer's no good!"

That, too, is some luck. Right there.

Meraana stayed at the tavern to rest while Glorrk, Snot and Zando went looking for the dwarf. It was nighttime now, and they got to the outskirts of town when they heard a terrible wail coming from the woods. They followed the wail, and found a little trail with a sign next to it -- the sign read "Cemetery", but Snot and Glorkk couldn't read so Zando told 'em it said "Spa".

They went up the trail to the cemetery, where they found a freshly-turned grave. "Maybe that where Chuckles went," said Glorkk --

--when Chuckles herself appeared.

As a banshee.


I hauled out 22d6, because that's what you roll in T&T for a banshee.

Zando summoned up a skeleton to fight for him, and the party rolled up a respectable Hit Point Total of 100 or so. Cordelia the Banshee, however, got...I think 184. Anyway, the skeleton did little more than to fly into pieces and suck about 18 hit points off the toatal, laeving the other three to eat the rest. Glorkk's armor absorbed a goodly chunk of his portion, but he still lost some Con; Zando and Snot weren't so lucky. Next round, Glorkk made a stellar Speed roll and hot-footed it back to town with the other two jokers in his grasp. I gave Cordelia the chance to roll 9 sixes on her 22D6 to see if she could cast Death Spell #9 on them, but alas, she rolled only 4, so the bast--uh, protagonists got away.

Jake had to go home then, so we called it done. I gave out extra XPs and put the game away.

I gave out lots of XP in 10- and 20-point hunks for good and/or amusing roleplay and banter. This of course encouraged more of same, so we had a lot of funny quips flying around.

RESULT: A great game of T&T, as you might agree. If you don't, then to hell with you. Come back later, I'll post somethin' different.

It bears mentioning that my players never play bad guys; I don't know if Jake does, but the other sure don't. And anyway, these guys weren't so much evil as they were unprincipled, or maybe just stupid. Meraana herself was meant to be very loyal to her friends, which is the only reason she put up with these shenanigans (and anyway, my wife was taking care of our daughter while we played, because Lily wasn't feeling too well and was just lying on the couch watching Clone Wars).

Wow! Long post, huh?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Be (Spell)Jammin'!

Aaaaah, yeah. That's the stuff.

So! I'm back on the creative wagon with this Spelljammer bidness. I'm feeling inspired again, and letting my brain go places for fun. It's good to be here.

First, I should mention to anyone who's interested that I'm not anchoring myself (ha!) to any one iteration of the Spelljammer campaign, at least not in anything but the most basic sense. I'm keeping all the jazz about Spelljamming helms, phlogiston, solar systems surrounded by crystal spheres, things other than suns as the "primary", wacky ships, air envelopes, the 180º plane of gravity, &c. -- not to mention the core "fanatsy RPG crap in space!" angle. Out go the Griff, the Neoghi, the Giant Space Hamsters and Realmspace/Krynnspace/Greyhawkspace; in go copious porals to other planes, art nouveau, fantasy-flavored weird science, choice Planescape stuff and whatever the hell else I feel is right.

I haven't actually managed a whole lot of development so far, but what I have done is pretty vivid. I've come up with a sphere full of mist. At its center is a portal to the paraelemental plane of mist, constantly spewing outward. In lieu of planets, there are large chunks of raw earth floating about; these are covered with forest, and there is almost constant rain (roll a d6; on a 1, the rain stops for an hour). Occluded in the grey-blue haze are great stone ruins, meticulously built of fist-sized brown and black stones, mesoamerican in design. Some kind of quest item is tobe found in there, otherwise it's just a pretty -if moody- place.

I'm trying not to make too much sense out of this stuff, but I did start to wonder -- if the flow of mist is constant, wouldn't the bubble burst, so to speak? So I added another portal...this one, to Limbo. The mist gets sucked back through, like down a drain. To make things even more exciting, I made the Limbo portal free-roaming, and random. Which means that it's totally possible for the PCs to be inside one of those temples when the black hole comes a-callin', set to engulf the whole rock in T minus ten minutes...

For some reason (probably because I read it on Uncle Bear's blog and the notion stuck in my head) I've also wanted to incorporate music and sound effects into this game. I used to do that before, but fell away from it after a while. I want to keep it to a minimum --maybe just have a piece of music that's like a "theme song"for the campaign, maybe a few bits of music here and there to help set the mood for a location or a scene. As for the sound effects, I have a 2-CD set of rainstorm sounds, which would be perfect to play when we go to the aforementioned land of the Aztec rain-temples (or whatever). My only worry is that it may become distracting or worse -- annoying.

My wife will probably fight it, but -- I AM THE MAN!

Anyway. as a special bonus, here's an NPC I wrote up. She'll probably show up pretty early in the game, and she looks like Selma Blair. This is what you get when you're thinking about Sorsha (from Willow, you know), a song by Muse and girls with big hair:


Humanoid female, age 25, 5'8", 130lbs.; an attractive woman with leonine sandy-blonde hair halfway to her waist, wearing tight brown breeches, black hip boots, a red sash and a sandy-colored tunic, with a cutlass at her side.

BACKGROUND: Cydonia was a captain in the Royal Army of Lum Ator, until that kingdom made a deal with the Illithid lord Kleizor, allowing the Illithids hunting rights -- which resulted in Kleizor secretly taking over the king's mind and brainwashing his cabinet psionically. At this point Cydonia rebelled, and slew the king himself. Now she is on the run, with her own former soldiers (now under Kleizor's mind control) in pursuit.

GOAL: Her main goal is to leave the sphere entirely, but she cannot escape without a ship. She will do anything necessary to accomplish this.

QUOTE: "No one's going to take me alive!"

Agility d8, Strength d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Vigor d6


SKILLS: Climbing d8, Fighting d10, Guts d8, Intimidation d8, Tracking d6

EDGES: Trademark Weapon (Saber), Attractive, Natural Leader

HINDRANCES: Enemy (Royal Army of Lum Ator, Major); Stubborn, Death Wish (leave the Sphere)

Friday, September 25, 2009

On Lucid Dreaming; or, Dowsers Without Trousers

Here's the bag, and behold the cat: I'm into lucid dreaming.

By "into" I mean "interested in" and "messing around with"; by "lucid dreaming", I mean "that phenomenon that occurs when you take control of your nightly REM instances and drive them around like a clown car in Aaron Spelling's house".

For the uninitiated, here's the gist of this stuff: When you're dreaming, the critical parts of your brain are on hold. Thus, when you find that stack of old Paranoia Press Traveller supplements on top of an old makeup display at the CVS, you just kind of go with it. (Incidentally, yes -- I DID have that dream.) However, there are ways to trick your brain into becoming aware that you're dreaming, thus either experiencing the dream more vividly or, ideally, taking control of the dream and making it do whatever you say.

In other words: Everything we said about VR back in the '90s, only cheaper and without a short-lived TV series on FOX.

The downside is that it takes practice, and it's not always easy to do.

The idea is to teach yourself to recognize signs that you're dreaming, at which point you can hop behind the wheel, so to speak. Once you are aware, you can interact with the dream environment and even change it around. Some folks find it easier than others do, and a lot of it -from what I can tell- is tied to one's ability to recall one's dreams. I'm OK at that, so I have a bit of a leg up, but I still find my results spotty. I've talked to a guy (Tom deserves a post of his own, if ever I get around to it) who boasts complete control, like a magical multimillionaire film director.

My greatest success yet was pretty interesting, and a little fun, but by no means complete. In this particular dream, I had to take a business trip, and that involved renting a car. I went to a car rental place (staffed by a buddy of mine who is, in reality, a computer programmer) and got set up with a set of keys. I then had to go out on the lot, match the number on the key ring to the license plate of my car, and be off.

Right away, I found my "trigger" -- I know, and most people have noticed, that in dreams, you cannot read. Words, numbers, letters, etc. just don't resolve correctly in dreams, and although you can dream about reading, the words you "see" either appear garbled or keep changing. So I went out to the parking lot, looked at the keyring, and thought, "Ha! You can't read in dreams. Here, watch this...!" at which point I viewed the numbers on the keyring as garbled, but registered them as a series of letters and numbers. Then I looked at a license plate, which ALSO looked garbled, but which registered again as a string of digits.

So I started playing with it.

I looked at the keyring again. Different garble, different digits. I looked at the plate. Different garble, different digits. I alternated between the keyring and the plates, fully aware that nothing would ever match, but just making it happen, like flicking a Bic even though you don't smoke.

Finally I decided I'd just get a car and go. I picked a little black sports car and drove away.

At this point I lost control, and the rest of the dream went on like a movie, straight through to the pond and the pier and the flying tugboat. Still, upon waking, I had -and still have- exceptionally good recall of the dream, and was able to describe it to my wife as I'm describing it now to you.

That was a few months ago, and it wasn't until this morning that I had another episode. This one was minor to the last one, though -- it involved me hanging out with some friends and, desiring to amuse them with my dumbass wordplay antics, blurted out the words "Dowsers Without Trousers!" I do that kind of thing when I'm awake, too, and I usually start thinking of related concepts so that I can expand on the joke. In this morning's dream, I did it, too. My thought process suddenly became very analytical; if someone were dowsing trouserless, the, uh, nature of the rod is an obvious one. This realization prompted me to create a slogan for a business which provides the service, and thus a catalogue of euphemisms unspooled in my head, etcetera.

But the breaking point was when I changed directions, and ditched the innuendo for something less risque -- thereby arriving at the notion of dowsing trousers, an FRPG magic item consisting of a pair of pants which, when worn, will soak through with water when the wearer walks over an underground river or stream.

And I did it all consciously. I manipulated my dream.

I'm still a long way off from turning a boring walk through the city into a high-speed chase in flying cars or full-sensory dungeon-delving adventures with robot henchmen, but these are pretty big steps for me. All I can do is keep trying. I know about the machines that you can use, the ones which detect REM sleep and flash you a subtle signal to trigger your awareness, but there's no room left on my head for more night-time equipstuff.

And all this, by the way, without ever owning a copy of The Everlasting. Imagine!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

HEX A-Poppin'

Lo! For there came upon the Blog a reader named SKelly, and upon the reading of my last post, SKelly did say:

Do you care to share your impressions of the HEX system? I have been reading it on and off, but not playing. I am planning on running a hollow earth based pulp game, and trying to choose what system to use (down to Spirit of the Century, HEX or Savage Worlds).

I started to reply in the comments section, but I would have ended up with a long comment that really deserves its own post.

Damn, SKelly, that's a tough choice. I do not envy you.

I have always liked HEX, and having run two short scenarios and played in one the best adjective I can use to describe it is quick. Task resolution is a breeze, and it's over and done with before you know it. Some folks grimace a bit at the attack rules (roll your trait plus the damage rating of the weapon), but to me it makes just enough sense for cinematic/dramatic adventure.

The first time I ran it, I was focusing on the rules because I'd never used them before. The second time, I brushed up a little (it didn't take much) during play, and found that the rules didn't need much mental processing, so I could devote the power of my mighty brain to the matter of describing bandidos and ancient glowing machines and lizard-men with obsidian spears. As a player, I found the rules to require even less thought, and I was able (with Style Points) to save my character's bacon once -- but not twice, which maintained a sense of tension for me.

The reason I said that I don't envy you, however, is because Savage Worlds and Spirit of the Century are ALSO good for this. I don't have SotC but I do have Starblazer Adventures, so I'm familiar with how it goes down; as for Savage Worlds, I've been monkeying with it the last couple of days and it, too, manages to get the job done and over with so you can get back to the real business of stealing a gem from a room full of zombies.

So...good luck, mac. Or, uh, sister. Whichever. Sorry, I can't see from here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wherein I Do It Twice In One Day

On Sunday, My wife (aka Nerdy Girl), our daughter (aka Squinkle) and I (aka Doofus Maximus) piled into the Rotwang!mobile and headed over to our friend Leaky Pete's house, with some chips and sodas and gamebooks and more dice than you can comfortably swallow and by god man we gamed all day.

[Well, our daughter didn't -- she was downstairs with Mrs Pete, playing dress-up and chasing a bunny and watching cartoons and who-knows-what-else.]

Leaky Pete was kind enough to host us, along with our old friend Kyle Hamster and newcomer The Jake With No Nickname, for copious amounts of gamification and GET THIS:






It's rare enough that I get to be on the other side of the screen, but to play two games in one day? WHOA! I haven't done that since high school. And if I have, then I don't remember.

Jake led off with a D6 Star Wars scenario centered around a combat on a large pleasure barge. My character, Dak Starkiller (whom I described as looking like "a cross between Michael Beck in The Warriors and Michael Beck in Xanadu") got to be all bad-ass on a swoop and helped defeat some pirates on a Clone War-era troop carrier. He also pimp-slapped a dark Jedi...

...with the steering vanes of his swoop.

After a short break, Kyle Hamster had to go off and do "homework" or "study" or whatever the euphemism was, and Jake made a Hollow Earth Expedition character for a scenario that Leaky Pete ran. This time, we were 1920s adventurers hired to retrieve a mask and a book from a Cambodian temple. Our patron, by the way, looked like Christopher Lloyd. ACES.

We went into the temple, discovered the crazy magical portal that threw us back in time (clever -- we had to drink the water from a pedestal to do the Time Warp), overcame some traps, fought some zombies and made it back out within the deadline.

It was awesome. I never get to play! NEVER! And on Sunday, I played TWICE IN ONE DAY!

Best of all, we've been invited back to do it all again. Having Mrs Pete watch The Squinkle is a great boon, and luckily she likes the kid, so...

Maybe, just maybe, my gaming life has been revitalized.

Here's hoping. As DEVO once said, "Long time no sugar/And it's starting to hurt".

Friday, September 11, 2009

Doctor Rotwang!: Rip-Off Artist

This is how far behind I am, kids: It was only last night that I ran across this post by Uncle Bear. I fell in lubb with this format right away, and he's probably been doing it for years and years and everyone's doing it and I'm behind the times and those damn kids are on my lawn again.

AAAAAAAAAAAaaaanyway, I immediately got a wild hair to write something up following this format, and after hemming and hawing and talking to angry, angry people at work today, I finally had a flash of inspirification on Ye Olde Drive Home:


Now dig this:

Now Playing: Spelljammer -- Seekers of the Seven Baubles

The Movie Pitch
Spelljammer meets Pirates of Dark Water on Planescape's front lawn

The Elevator Speech
Swashbuckling adventurers heroes sail through space in magic-driven ships, seeking seven magic jewels that will banish a great evil.

High-spirited pulp adventure

Savage Worlds, because why not

Player Character Roles
Anyone willing to travel the Spheres and risk life and limb to fight back the illithid threat. Stock D&D characters are as welcome as are pirates and treasure-seekers -- but all of them must have a sense of duty. Clerics won't be of any use, though.

The Evil And Insidious Illithids
Drow Conquerors and Treasure-Hunters
The Cindermen (chaotic-evil fire elementals -- basically, humanoid burning coals)
Nakharotep, The Mummy
Princess Arkanida, who wants the Seven Baubles all to herself

Various planets encased in crystal spheres: a water world, a jungle world, a desert world, Planet Renfaire, etc.
Asteroid-borne ruins
Moradin's forge, one the home of the dwarves but now a captured Illithid stronghold

Appendix N
Spelljammer: Shadow of the Spider Moon
Sinbad movies aplenty
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Pirates of Dark Water
The Dark Crystal
Star Wars

Art Nouveau

Now...obviously, I just stole all this stuff from Polyhedrom Magazine #151, stuck a quest into it to keep the characters together and the plot moving, and called it a night. However, no one cares, because it sounds like fun. And anyway, if I ever run it, it's gonna be infused with mine and my players' personal touches, and it's a swell excuse for me to shove some art nouveau groove into a game.

What's more is that it excites me, and that's actually kind of a novelty, of late.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A little over a year ago, I crowed mightily about the absolute and unassailable wonder that is the book Whales On Stilts! by M. T. Anderson. This is the link you can click if you forgot all about that post, or if you're feeling nostalgic, or if you are simply a compulsive link-clicker, ready, willing and able to click any link that you come across. Click away, you little freak.

In the comments section it was mentioned that two books follow it -- The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen and Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware. Yesterday, my daughter and I went to the library, and guess what they had?

Books. Yes. They had books. Lots of them. Good job, you guessed it. Prize? No. Smartassedness is its own reward.

Amongst those books were multiple copies of The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen, and since I'm not in hock to the public liberry, I checked out a copy and read it in a couple sittings. Okay, three sittings, but one of them was laying down so it --

-- I read it. And I pronounce it good.

I guess juvenile fiction has probably long been better than I might have thought, but I didn't know it was this good. Not only is this book -like its predecessor- laugh-out-loud funny, it is also deftly written and moving.

Yes, I said moving. Not, like, the-end-of- Terms-Of-Endearment moving. I mean make-a-grown-man-laugh-and-cry-with-longing-for-what-makes-him-treasure-his-youth moving. As with Whales, Lederhosen is imbued with melancholy and bitter-sweetness as it touches (not always subtly) on the ideas of youth past and lost.

Hey! That illustration is different from the one the cover of the library book! It's much better than the one on the book; on the book, the girls look funny and Jasper isn't holding that gym sock?

Anyway, the book has to go back to the library on the 25th, and it'll probably go back tomorrow. I will simply get my own copy; this one's a keeper.

Oh -- and on September 15th...

...I am on that. I am on it like something that's stuck to something else, you know, really tightly.

Friday, September 04, 2009

GenreDiversion 3 Re-evalufied

In short: Although I once said that PIG's GenreDiversion 3 would not likely become my go-to game, recent recalculations and renewed appraisals of Brett Bernstein's genre-neutral game have led me to change my stance.

But before I make the official announcement, a few words of explanation:

It's hard for me to pick a go-to game -- in other words, a single one. I just can't do that. I can't do that because I love games too much, in all their different styles and designs and tropes and what-have-you-to-add. I have favorites, yes; some more favored than others, and that's where my re-evaluation starts.

I'm noticing a tend in the games that I like -- or at least in the way I like to play them. I'm liking games that require me to roll one or two dice at a time -- preferably two, and D6s at that. I'm noticing an attraction to games with a simple, solid core mechanic upon which I can expand with simple tweaks, ideal for adjudicating on the spot. Also, I like games which allow the PCs to stay in combat for a while, because mayhem is fun.

GenreDiversion 3 hits these. All of 'em.

For those who came in late (or didn't read the page to which I linked up at the top of this post), here's what GD3 gets ya: A simple, solid 2d6-plus-mods roll-over mechanic, with broadly-defined character stats. Charcaters can further be tricked out with bells and whistles like Gimmicks (advantages/disadvantages/powers), Roles (which bring in bonus Pursuits, aka skills) and Vocations (which require certain Pursuits and/or Gimmicks but provide non-mechanical bonuses). These add to playability without requiring too much fiddling about rules, looking stuff up, etc.

In short: It's compact and elegant.

So let's put it into Rotwang!ian Hierarchy thusly: It's up there next to D6, Castles & Crusades and Classic Traveller in my personal ranking of games.

In other words, it's amongst my go-to games.

There! That's better!