Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Characters Implying Plot And Setting

Okay, so yesterday my daughter Lily put on a Rocky & Bullwinkle DVD, which contained the story "The Three Moosketeers". Naturally, this morning I had Musketeers on the brain; on the drive in, one of the marbles in my head started spinning and gaining momentum and then --

-- well, here.

Alenard Durand

Experienced Musketeer, fiercely loyal to King Félix, and veteran of many engagements both on the battlefield and in the barracks. He's getting on in age, but not so you'd notice. He is well aware of the threat posed by The Cardinal du Montaigne D'Or and has vowed to oppose him at every turn.

No-Nonsense Musketeer (4), Sworn Enemy of Cardinal Montaigne D'Or (3), Grizzled Old Grognard Whom The Younger Guys Look Up To (2), Would-Be Polyglot (1)

Noemie Ramage

19-year-old daughter of a former Musketeer, who taught her to defend herself -- but she learned a little too well. She's as much of a girly-girl as she is a competent swordwoman who takes no crap, so people can't make sense of her sometimes. She hangs around with Alenard because he's an old friend of her dad's.

Stone-Cold Foxy Swordswoman Who Learned Everything From Her Musketeer Dad (4), Little Girl Who Loved Horses And Grew Up To Be A Blue-Ribbon Equestrienne (3), Avid Reader Of Romance Novels (2), Finishing School Drop-Out (1)

El Canijo

An obvious Torrero (meaning he's from the faux-Spanish kingdom of Torreón). Swarthy and mysterious, he exhibits equal parts refinement and savagery. "El Canijo" is not his real name; it's a nickanme that means "the sly one". His real name is Carlos Rodrigo de Torreón y Acevedo Cañones, and he gurads that secret jealously. He's living in Navarre because why not.

Swaggering Foreign Soldier-Of-Fortune (4), Swordsman Of The Legendary Escuela Ordaziana (3), Third-In-Line For The Throne Of Torreón, In Exile (1), Sorceror Who Needs A Lot Of Practice (2)

Éric Laplume

Éric is young, brave and optimistic -- but he isn't stupid. He is charismatic and likeable, and has an easy laugh to go with his valiant demeanor. He's just been made a Musketeer, but served for a while in the regular army until Durand saw him in action and asked him to be promoted. His parents are recently deceased, and foul play may be involved. The trail couldn't possibly lead back to the Cardinal -- could it? (That's a Hook, by the way.)

Eager Young Novice Musketeer (4), Eternal Optimist Who Can Always Think Of A Plan (3), Future Captain Of The Guard Who Just Needs Some Experience (2), Dashing Ladies' Man (1)
QUESTING DICE: Find out who killed his parents (10)

Cardinal Barnard du Montaigne D'Or

A cackling, moustache-twirling, hand-rubbing villain. He uses his power and influence as Cardinal of the church in an underhanded attempt to usurp power. For all his outward piety and respectability, he is not above using murder, theft, arson or worse to get what he wants...and what he wants is the crown!

Devious, Power-Hungry Sociopath (5), Big Kahuna Of All Things Churchy In Navarre (4); Tons Of Yes-Men (2 dice turned into Yes-Men)

Le Poisson

Dark, mysterious assassin with magical powers. Always wears a cloak and mask. Works for the highest bidder, who is usually the Cardinal. Oh, and he can turn into a fish.

Sorcerous Hit-Man (4), French Ninja (3), Disciple of the Seven Keys of Kar-Mog-Null (2), Shape-Shifter (1)

Now, if you bothered to read that, you'd notice that a plot is kind of implied. Maybe even some scenes, and the seeds of a setting (late 1600s Europe minus real names plus magic, a la 7th Sea). It wouldn't be fair to foist pre-made characters on some players just to get my jollies, though...

...would it...?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Daughter Just Played Her First D&D Game.

Oh, holy cow.

Seriously, this is a 5-year dream for me. Literally; she's 5 ½ years old, and shortly after she wa born I had a dream about playing Dungeons & Dragons with her. Today, my wife Amber and daughter Lily and I sat down to play.

And it was my daughter's idea.

Lily had been talking about wanting to play for a while, and a couple of days ago she and my wife decided that, since Mommy was off today, we'd play when we got back from the grocery store. We put the groceries away, tidied up the living room a bit, and sat down at the table to make characters.

I decided to use Microlite20, since it would be fast and easy to play. Plus, character generation is short (especially if you leave out the skills, which we did) so there's less chance of boring the kid. She rolled her own dice and wrote down her own stats.

Lily played a fairy wizard named Barbie (I klooged up a Fairy race package: -2 to STR, but base AC 15) and Amber made an elven rogue named Serena. I asked them what their characters' favorite foods were; Barbie's was chocolate, Serena's was pears. I had a reason, trust me. With stats, appearances and favorite foods decided, we started the game...

Barbie and Serena lived in the village of Blackoak, and Barbie woke up one morning very excited because today was the day the general store was expecting the chocolate wagon to roll in. She flew over to the store where Mister Hooper (why not?) told her that the wagon was late. Oh no! He asked her if she wanted to wait for the shipment.

Lily took to the idea of playing right away when Amber and I asked her, "Do you want to wait, or do something else?" In her character's voice -a falsetto if ever I've heard one- Lily had Barbie declare, "I'm going to go find out why the shipment is late!"


Given the choice to go on her own or take a friend, she went to Serena's house to recruit her on the adventure. I kinda hinted that she should do that, but Lily did start making her own choices: Given the choice between investigating the road coming into town or the woods, she picked the woods. "We're going to investigate deep, deep into the woods," she declared in character. I told her that she knew that the woods might be dangerous and that there might be monsters...but my child, my daughter, my five-and-a-half-year-old little darling, was not to be dissuaded. "Let's go DEEP into the woods, DEEPER than DEEP!" she said.

My child is a sandboxer.

The pair went into the woods for a while but found no chocolate wagon. I rodded a bit by asking if they wanted to go look somewhere else or keep looking in the woods, and Lily chose to keep going into the woods. She sat on Mommy's lap mimed flapping her wings to show how Barbie was flying along. Priceless!

Eventually they got lost, and the woods got darker. Right about then, they heard footsteps in the woods but couldn't see anyone. Lily decided that Barbie would cast a Light spell, which revealed a goblin in a brown-and-purple kilt eating a bar of chocolate.

Much laughter from the child.

The goblin ran off, but Serena and Barbie followed. The goblin blew his roll to NOT trip and fall (I stitched in the SIEGE Engine from Castles & Crusades) and was confronted by the two adventurers. "You stole the chocolate!" Barbie accused, but the goblin naturally denied any wrongdoing and took off again.

This time, Lily had to roll to keep an eye on him; she failed. "I guess I fall down," she said dejectedly...but she took the failure very well. I was worried about how she'd handle failure, since it's part of the game; I'm proud to say that she just kind of accepted it, especially after we explained that the roll was not to navigate but to track. Somehow, she was okay with that.

My wife, obviously the more experienced player, suggested looking for goblin tracks or chocolate bits. I declared no roll was necessary, since Barbie had cast another Light spell. Sure enough -- goblin tracks and a wadded-up chocolate wrapper led into the woods.

"I'm going to go by myself!" declared Lily-as-Barbie, and when I described that she heard voices up head, my child --

-- Okay, I swear that this happened. I'm not making this up. Proud as I am of my child, I'll be the first to admit her shortcomings. I have to; as a parent, it's important for me to know her strengths and her weaknesses so as to better raise her.

My daughter, a first-time player, faced with an open-ended tactical situation, said:

"I sneak up on them."

Maybe I'm making too much of it, but it just doesn't seem to me that a five-year-old girl who is running around with a toy wand, pretending to be a fairy, would normally have the foresight to do that. Let me have my Proud Daddy moment.

Lily got under the table to simulate hiding in the branches, and I described the earlier goblin, a chubby one in a yellow camo-pattern kilt and a strong one with a sword in a black kilt discussing the fact that the fairy and the elf were in the woods. "If they find out we stole the chocolate," said the chubby one, "we'll be in big trouble!"

"They WON'T find out," snarled the strong one, waving his sword.

At this point I asked Lily, "What do you do?" She replied by miming spell-casting with her wand.


I explained that she had a spell tat would put the goblins to sleep, and one that would shoot a magic bolt. "Sleep!" she declared, and I described sparkles and stars and moons raining down from her wand.

"Okay," I said, "Let's roll to see if they fall asleep."

"Do we have to...?" Lily asked.

"Hey," my wife said, "I think our kid's a diceless player!"

"You don't have to," I explained. "I do." The chubby one and the strong one blew their saves; the original one was okay. Serena showed up and threw a rock at him for 2 hit points. Then, I announced the need for initiative rolls.

The goblin charged Serena for 4 hp, bare-handed; then it became Barbie's turn. Here, Lily -who was running around the living room waiving her wand- described the appearance of her Magic Missile -- "A bunch of candy flies out! EXPLODING candy! It flies out, and gathers up into instruments -- even CANDY DRUMSTICKS. And when he plays the drum, IT EXPLOOOOOODES!!!!"

Well, in no time, the goblin was set on fire and disposed of, while the sleeping ones were tied up. Upon waking up, the strong one said, "Let me go!" Lily pointed at him and said, "I took your sword!"

Then, she turned to my wife and said, "Mommy, can we play another D&D game?"

So. Proud.

But it gets better.

It gets better because after I declared that they found the chocolate wagon and dragged it back to town (I didn't complicate things; why bother?), Mister Hooper rewarded the characters with a pretty ring for Serena and a potion of invisibility for Barbie.

Here's where it gets best of all: Lily said, in a soft voice: "I have something for you, too, Mister Hooper."

She walked over to her seat at the table, picked up a notebook, and carried it back toward me in upheld palms.

In a tender voice, my child handed me/Mr Hooper the book and said, "For you. If you ever need us again, just look up our number."

The three of us are playing again on Tuesday. "But next time," Lily says, "I'm going to be a warrior."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What It Sounds Like Inside My Head, Con't.

If it doesn't sound like this...

...then it probably sounds like this.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Like It When I Do This, Right?

Seems like when I've posted transcripts of my stupid game notes, you gentle readers either enjoy it or at least don't try to burn my house down over it.

Well, I was just cleaning out my desk drawer at work ('cause I changed desks, not jobs) and I found some sheets of paper with stupid game notes on 'em. So I figure -- eh, why not post 'em on my blog?

After all, you don't know where I live.


1. What type aliens?
  • Grey
  • Bug-eyed monster √√
  • Giger
  • Gooey/Blobs
  • Martians (H.G. Wells') √
  • Predator
  • Big-Headed, Wise, Benevolent
  • Nords/Movellans
2. What do they want?
  • Gold!
  • Women!
  • Cattle!
  • Blood!
  • Souls!
  • Plutonium!
  • Slaves!
  • Candy!
  • Booze!
3. What are the BEM's vulnerabilities?
  • Water
  • Cactus juice
  • Whiskey
  • Castor Oil
  • Horse poop
  • Hay
  • Iron
  • Milk
  • NOTHING! You just need bigger guns! (Civil War cannon? Gatling gun? Dynamite?)


3 NPCs
  1. Randolph The Robot Reindeer: A mechanical reindeer who can shoot lasers from his bright red nose. Laser-Firing Mecha-Reindeer (5)
  2. El Keeblero: Zorro, if he were and Elf.
  3. Esther Bunny: A panicky female rabbit in a flowered dress and a big, goofy hat. She keeps dying and coming back.
  1. The Island of Misfit Boys: Elf gay bar.
  2. Warehouse Alpha-9: An off-season storage facility. In-season, it's busy for a long time -- until around 12/23, when it's totally empty with the exception of a guy sweeping up.
  3. The Golden Nugget: A hotel/casino owned & operated by Yukon Cornelius. Rumors of a backstage operation dealing in sketchy hi-tech R&D have yet to be proven.

-Who's there that the PCs would want to punch in the face?

A: Scorizo, the Grumpy Elf: A crooked, deceitful elf who fancies himself a mastermind. He wants the North Pole and Christmas all to himself, and getting it means taking Santa Claus out of the picture. Since he's a schemer, though, he doesn't want to get his hands dirty.

Scorizo (like "chorizo"*) is a two-faced bastard through and through. He's really nice to your face, but he hates you behind your back.

Elf with Connections (4), Total Smarmy Bastard (3), Liar (3)

*Contrary to what Food Network hosts say, it's pronounced chore-EE-so, not chore-EATS-so. Don't say it that way, it makes you sound pretentious and stupid.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Cool Movie Swordfight You Probably Haven't Seen

That's probably, mind you, because I don't know that Blake Edwards' 1965 slapstick adventure/comedy The Great Race is popular among my peers (that's you who are reading this; don't try to dodge it, it'd stick in court).

But maybe it should be well-known amongst gamers, because even though it's not a straight-up genre pic, it has plenty to offer. Take, for instance, this here sword fight between Tony Curtis and Ross Martin (skip forward to 0:49 to get to the stuffs). I dunno fencing from whitewashing (besides the obvious) so who knows if these guys are any good or not, but it's a fun sword fight anyway.

Later, there's a pie fight -- the biggest in cinema history. Plus, the film features plenty of adventure tropes, a parody of The Prisoner of Zenda, a wacky car, some stunts, an exploding town, Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk as villains, a flash of Natalie Wood's leg and Larry Storch as a heavy.

If the words "Larry Storch as a heavy" didn't set somethin' off, then...aaahhh...go ask your parents.

Speaking of which, this movie is great for kids, and I intend on watching it with mine, tomorrow.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Holy Writ II: The Parable of the Stupid Hat

So it came to pass that Dr Rotwang! was seen one day to be wearing a stupid hat.

Upon seeing him, did a bespectacled skinny dude say, "Hey! What's with that stupid hat? That hat is wrong! Why do you wear it?"

Then did Rotwang! take a sip of his A&W Cream Soda and he replied unto him thusly:

"Wearing this hat gives me a kind of joy that I can hardly articulate, let alone express in a brief, succinct blog post that won't bore those who read it. I can't change what you think of my hat; I can change the hat itself, but I won't."

The skinny dude pondered this and said, "Well, your tie is stupid, too."

Whereupon Rotwang! smote him with a shovel dipped in tar and set aflame, all the while saying, "Now, you're just being a dick."

No one was really enlightened, but that shovel burned pretty well.

-- The Horsepuckey Chronicles of Rotwang!, Book I Part 6, p. 30, just an inch or two over from the Tabasco sauce stain from that night at Kyle's house

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Gary Gygax, July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008

A moment of silence.

Now. Fight On, suckas.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Hey, Look! TrollsZine Is A Free T&T 'Zine!

Getcha some! I just did.

Damnit, Stop Apologizing For Being A Gamer! (WARNING: F-Bombs!)

Jebus! Seriously, man, cut it out! "Oh, I'd be too embarrassed to admit to doing something that dorky...!"


Does anyone say, "Gee, I'd be too embarrassed to admit that I like to hike"? When did you hear somebody say, "I'd never bring up my love of...fucking knitting in casual conversation!" Did anyone ever get all sheepish and apologetic about liking to cook?


You bet I'm pissed.

Where'd this come from? I saw a guy's blog post (not a gaming blog) where he basically gushed about how much he loved gaming as a kid, but opened it up by saying:

"Ordinarily, I'd probably be a little embarrassed to talk about playing something as profoundly geeky as a pencil-and-paper RPG. By itself, it's bad enough."

No offense to author -- it's the attitude that pisses me off. Acting like it's something nasty or dirty that we do, something barely on the fringes of acceptable behavior. Bull-shit. It's not like we're organizing dog fights, people.

Oh, but sure, lots of non-gamers look down on it, don't understand it, think it's childish at best. That's because they don't know any better. And how are they gonna know any better if they aren't exposed to it as something that's not incomprehensible and childish and dumb?

Damnit, stop hiding it. Just be you, man, life's too fucking short.