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Friday, 30 September 2016 extra: Night of the Black Moon!!

So, you may have noticed I'm upping my article count at Break; they just can't get enough of me there. Anyways, in my latest article I look at an event happening tonight: The dreaded "black moon"!

It has led to numerous predictions of either the apocalypse (based on the bible), or great vibrational changes in the.. you know what? We'll just say "new age bullshit".

But the black moon has a secret. An incredibly stupid secret that makes all the above seem even dumber.

In true clickbait tradition, to find out what that secret is, check out "Rare Black Moon Causes Crazy Apocalypse Predictions"!

If you liked it, please share it, hopefully before the dreaded blood moon is upon you!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Poker + C&D's Bailey's Front Porch

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Classic Rant: The Real Nature of "New Atheism"

I read a fantastic article in The Atlantic a few days back, which detailed how a moderate christian group is doing a study on college atheists, to try to understand what leads people away from religion and into atheism. They’re doing it with a religious goal in mind of course (though they claim that their goal is to “bridge the gap as gently and respectfully as possible”), but that doesn’t exactly invalidate the nature of what they’ve found.

And what they found was fascinating. You see there that almost all the young atheists interviewed would CLAIM that they came to atheism through a process of “logical deduction”, reason, science, etc. Ie. that it was a pure and objective intellectual analysis that has led them to conclude that they can not only state a lack of belief but make a positive statement of disbelief about the existence of any kind of supreme being.

In practice, though, the foundation discovered a common median pattern among American college-age “New atheists”:

1. they had gone to church as children.

2. They felt somehow unsatisfied with their church experience. In many cases, they had experienced some kind of very positive early impression only to later encounter some kind of frustration with their particular church.

3. They felt the “answers” their churches offered weren’t sufficiently profound.

4. Many of them expressed profound respect for ministers who took their religion seriously (and were, conversely, disillusioned by people in positions of authority in their church who seemed shallow).

5. Almost all of them left their religion between the ages of 14-17.

6. Almost all of them had some kind of key emotional incident that occurred at the time they left their religious institution behind.

7. They cited the Internet as a main source for discovery about Atheism.

So, in short, this article presents what I’ve been saying about New Atheism for quite some time. Namely, that these sorts of aggressive atheists are not actually people who have “thought things through”, they’re people who have had an emotional experience that led them to react negatively, not to god, but to organized religion, and more often christianity, and very often a specific type of christianity they were brought up in. They try to hide behind science, but what they’ve had is clearly a “conversion experience”, and for emotional reasons they have chosen to embrace an irrational statement of positive disbelief to make up for what they now think of as previously-irrational belief.

The thing is, these experiences, or at least points 1-6, are something that would very much fit my own history; and indeed, by the time I was 16 I was a staunchly avowed atheist. As it turns out, I outgrew that. I came to realize that my it wasn’t that I was now sure or could be sure that god didn’t exist because he didn’t personally take care of making everything nice for me; and that really my problem was not that “religion is stupid and pointless”, but that the particular religious environment I was in was stupid, it was one that encouraged shallow thinking. I didn’t want to reject the spiritual, I wanted the profound experiences that I felt cheated out of by a milquetoast church that was full of sleepy not-really-practitioners or mindless-bigots and answered to a bloated corrupt temporal hierarchy. So after growing up out of exoteric religion, which is mostly dumb, I grew up out of atheism too, which is just as dumb; and then I discovered the spiritual virtue of being able to say “I don’t know”, followed by “but I’m going to try damn hard to find out, and I won’t take anyone else’s word for it”. Instead of abandoning god, I abandoned belief, which is the barrier to Truth (and this of course includes the “god” of my beliefs, along with everyone else’s). It strikes me that New Atheists have abandoned the God of their childhood sundays, but have clung steadfastly in the best of late-adolescent fashion to the God of Their Own Beliefs, re-labeling him as “science”, when he’s anything but.


(Originally posted June 18, 2013)

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

DCC Campaign: Backstage: The Backstagening Pt. 3

So here's yet another log from the backstage conversation thread my DCC Gamers write in, slowly, over the course of the two weeks between adventures.

This covers the times just before and just after the session I reported on most recently in this blog entry.

Without further ado:

(TRIGGER WARNING: super offensive gang of ordinary human beings daring to have fun. Do not read if you are a hysterical regressive. Or, yeah actually read it, because I really want you to feel all offended because Fuck You):

Backstage: The Backstagening, Book III

Morris: I will take this opportunity... to bring chaos to Tolia. Tolia will be set on fire, and so all of their minotaurs, burning to the ashes...

Bill: We can live with that, we can certainly hire a cleric in high bay. Hire or Charm, or make addicted to something.

Morris: kidnap... or whatever

Chu: Kidnapping is such a strong word, I prefer unofficial commandeer of an autonomous healbot.

Bill: That is also a good idea. Let's see if Anthraz has one of those.

Chu: Well, killing a halfling and throwing him through the window, not one of my proudest moments.

Bill: I have seen/done worse.

Chu: Yep, not gonna question that. Haven't even done a genocide yet.

Morris: Well, allowing chaos and destruction take over the world in some early future, not one of my proudest moments.

Bill: Chaos is another type of order.

Fishman: What. No, it's not. It's like saying "Black is another type of white".

Drunken Master: it is, when you turn lights off.

Morris: Whooooooooooo *Mind = blown*

(Cut: lengthy political debate about Trump based on my "Deplorables" blog entry.
I should note our Player party is politically diverse: the Drunken Master (formerly Ackbasha) is a literal hardcore Trotskyite in real life and pretty much opposes the whole structure of western governments, the Fishman is a center-leftist and very not into Trump, I am (as you all know) a Trump-supporting Libertarian, Chu is an Alt-Right Shitlord, Bill is a general shit-disturber, and I have no idea what Morris is)

Bill: I thought "The Deplorables" is quite good as a description of the party.

Fishman: Also known as "Shit, not them again".

Bill: That

Drunken Master: Actually, "Shit, not them again... and who are you fishman?"

Bill: His name is Losha. The fishman has a name

Pundit: Bill has White Guilt.

Fishman: The guy who killed several minotaurs and giants with one single lvl 1 spell.

Bill: Radiant white elf privilege.

Fishman: One.

Drunken Master: Ekim Mystical Mask?

Bill: Chill touch? Spider climb ?


Bill: Enlarge while "chill touching"?

Fishman: Screw  you guys.

Bill: We still love you, fishman, you are like Yahoo's Babel fish for us And you are good too, when there are no cold beverages around

Drunken Master: and you are rich on omega-3

Bill: LOL

Chu: Top kek

Fishman: I have an omega-3 dispenser right here for you! *grabs crotch*

Bill: Oh me god!

Drunken Master: that's the hole you use to fertilize eggs.

Bill: You see, this is much more interesting than to contaminate this haven with partisan chat

Chu: Yep I have always wanted a chat about the implications of fishman and the nature of his genitalia

Pundit: Could a halfling critical a fishman?

Bill: *wags finger*

Fishman: If you gaze too long into the fishman's genitalia, the fishman's genitalia will gaze into you.

Bill: Unless the fishman's genitalia have a codpiece with Ekims Mystical Mask, that protect them against gaze attacks

Fishman: It does.

Drunken Master: 1:00, those are the fishman's genitals:

Bill: What's going on? Why would bbc 3 produce that?

Morris: Today I'll be a little late, I'm waiting for delicious sea food for lunch, no offence Fish-man, I'm sure they are not your relatives.

Bill: Late like what?

Morris: Like half an hour, maybe

Fishman: Yeah, I'm gonna be there closer than 4 than to 3 too...

Bill: Sharing a meal with Morris and your fish relatives, you sick cannibal

Fishman: Losha is a fishman FISHERMAN. What did you thought he ate?

Drunken Master: Dick. He eats dick.

Morris:  OMW!

Fishman: Meat is meat.

Drunken Master:

Bill: *?*


Drunken Master: before zach gallifianakis turns into the official face of the drunkard, I want to let you know this is the one I had in mind.

Bill: Plus the half-plate

Drunken Master: that was in Tholia, before joining the party

Bill: *wine bottle warrior*

Chu:  Wait... What was the name of the Half-elven queen?

Bill: Loretta - identified as woman before it was cool

That's all for this time. If you're amused by seeing a glimpse of the banter between my players and between their adventures, let me know, and I might post some more of these.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + H&H's Beverwyck

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Break.Com Bonus Article: Is "Boobomancy" a Real Kind of Fortune-Telling?

The answer is yes, yes it is.

And in my latest Break article, you can find out the real life history that explains (at least in theory) the justification behind that Chinese video of the old fortune-teller trying to 'read the future' in an annoyed-looking girl's breast.

PLUS, find out about the Western version of the same type of boob-focused fortune telling, and what a woman's boob shape can tell you about her character and future!

That's the Pundit, always fun and informative! If you like the article, please feel free to share it everywhere, especially to those special women in your life so they can see if the boobomancy matches up for them!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Oversize + H&H's Beverwyck

Monday, 26 September 2016

Break Monday: 13 Horrible Ways to Die in the Middle Ages

The middle ages really sucked. There were a ton of nasty ways to die back then, even without getting yourself into trouble. But if you had the misfortune of being up for execution, you have to admit that our medieval ancestors sure were creative at figuring out unbelievably gruesome ways to kill you.

You know about hanging and beheading, but those are just the normal ways to go.  Do you know what being 'drawn and quartered' really means?  What about the "breaking wheel"?  And then there was being sawed in half... the hard way.

Check out a bunch of execution methods that were really used, in my latest article: 13 Horrible Ways to Die in the Middle Ages!

As always, if you like it, please share it. Thanks!


Currently Smoking: Mastro De Paja + Stockebbye's Bull's Eye Flake

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Wild West Campaign Update

In this weekend's session, the PCs found Dodge to be at the peak of the Cattle Drive, and also a peak of violence, particularly as two rival groups of cowboys from two major Oklahoma ranchers have slowly built up resentment for each other into a blood feud on the streets of Dodge.

At the same time, a reporter and photographer from Boston arrived in Dodge, looking to chronicle the terrible violence that had made Dodge famous. Unfortunately he didn't find Dodge quite violent enough for his tastes, expecting it to fit much closer to the dime-novels so popular back east.  And when he couldn't naturally get a shot of a classic 'shoot-out' he decided to see if he could manipulate some of the good citizens of Dodge to create one.

Not only did the classic 'wild-west' shootout (you know, the one at high noon in the middle of the street with two men 20 feet away from each other, with no cover, drawing on three) hardly ever actually happen, they are also pretty tough to artificially engineer.

First, he tried to get "Kid" Taylor to do a shoot-out with David the Mexican, figuring he could play on the current Mexican-American tensions (the US was on the brink of war with Mexico in '77), even trying to argue that David might be a spy.  This in spite of the fact that David is probably the meekest and nicest human being in the entire city, and didn't even own a firearm. Even so, Taylor got visions of his name in print, and tried to engineer a totally fake shoot-out.  But that all got screwed up when Smith realized that this scheme was likely to get someone killed.

After that, the reporter took some words he had with Taylor and exaggerated them slightly, to suggest that Taylor was claiming that Morgan Earp was a poor shot. This time he almost got himself a real shootout between Morgan and Taylor, but at the last minute Deputy Young defused the situation by suggesting they have a shooting contest instead.  Kid Taylor won, hitting 3 cans out of 3 with 6 shots in 7.5 seconds (to Morgan's 0 cans out of 3 with 6 shots in 8 seconds); but then, just to show off, Young showed them how a real shootist does it, taking out 3 out of 3 cans with 3 shots in 5 seconds.

Feeling totally thwarted, the reporter eventually decided to hire himself a tracker and some unemployed cowboys as hired guns, and go into the Indian territory to try to get some shots of "vicious savages".  About a week later the survivors of the expedition brought back the reporters corpse; apparently the Indians hadn't liked his antics any more than the people of Dodge did (though they took a more direct route to expressing their displeasure).

Meanwhile, one thing the reporter did manage was to accidentally get James "Dog" Kelley, owner of the Alhambra Saloon and local eccentric, to declare his candidacy for the upcoming mayoral election. He'd really only done it because he really wanted to get his name in print, but then it was too late to take it back.

This caused some troubles between Kelley and his partner (and present mayor) Peter Beatty; even though Beatty had no intention of running for re-election, but because he had a plan to set up Sheriff Bassett as a candidate.  But this is where newcomer to town Bat Masterson chose to intervene.  He reconciled the two men by reminding them that what they really want is to make sure that Larry Deger and his group of friends (the "better class" or legitimate businessmen of Dodge, opposed to the saloon-owners, gamblers, drunks and associated lunatics of the town) don't end up in charge of city hall. And he promises them that he has a master plan which will get Kelley elected mayor, keep Bassett happy, thwart Deger, and win Masterson the country sheriff's seat. He predicted that in five month's time, he'd be Dodge's chief lawman.

Masterson was quite a character.  He was a gunslinger, a politician, and a rogue, all in equal measure; and screwed over a ton of people, and yet he seemed to be enormously liked by almost everyone (including some of the people he clearly played).  He was also remarkably connected. He's pretty much the model of an 18-charisma character.

Anyways, the PCs got to see the early origins of the group, the counterparts to the "Better Class", who would come to be known as "The Gang": the coalition between Beatty, Kelley, Masterson, and Charlie Bassett, who would be opposed to Deger and his businessman allies.   One of the PCs, Miller (who was heavily speculating on properties in town, bought the Palace saloon and was co-owner with Smith, another PC, of the Fort Saloon; and was courting the aged widow and town matriarch Doris McKnee), even seems to have gotten on the ground floor of membership in "the Gang".   It looks like the next few months will prove interesting to the political side of the campaign in Dodge.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Solani Aged Burley Flake

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Classic Rant: Arrows of Indra: Understanding Clan

We’ve talked here before about Caste, and people make a big deal about it, but in a way, in the Arrows of Indra setting, I think that Clan may be at least as important, and maybe more difficult to get one’s head around.

The Clan is not just your “family”, you can have people from the same Clan as yours who live in entirely different kingdoms and may even have less in common with you in terms of bloodline than your next door neighbour (who is nonetheless from a different clan). It's also not quite a tribe either. In European terms, the closest comparisons may be to the Scottish Clans, or, even more so, to the Polish herbu of the aristocracy, where polish nobles with different last names and from different regions nevertheless shared the same heraldic shield (rather than the more typical European system where every noble family had its own shield).

In Arrows of Indra, Clan affects a great deal of the background elements of your character. The clan served as a kind of social network and welfare system, it handled many (though not all) of the things that we’re used to government handling. Local disputes, marriage, trade, and many other everyday affairs. If you wanted to get married, you needed the approval of your clan chief (and your potential spouses’, of course) and often these chiefs would actually handle everything for you (up to and including picking your bride/husband). If you were traveling and wanted a place to stay, the clan would provide it. Need a loan? Your clan was good for that too, only make sure you paid, because they could also sell you into slavery!

They could also expel you; and being clanless is a bad thing because it means basically that you are outside of society. It may not be quite as bad as being casteless (though the two often go hand in hand) but it makes for huge dishonor and a complete inability to participate in some of the most basic aspects of Bharata society.

In an AoI campaign, the GM can decide whether to pick his player’s clan or to let them pick one; its recommended that clan be chosen only after background skills are determined, since some clans tend to be tied to certain specific professions. After that, the GM needs to figure out just how he wants to go about using Clans. He has a few options:

1. He could just ignore the whole thing. Make clan unimportant; if all you want to do with AoI is wilderness and dungeon crawling, then you don’t need to worry too much about clan politics and you probably don’t want to busy your players with clan affairs.

2. He could take an intermediate position; and decide that in his version of Jagat, clan matters, just not a lot. The clan can help the PCs, provide support, places to stay, loans, etc. but it doesn’t get to run their lives. PCs can choose to help their clan or interact with it a lot, or very little, to their tastes, without major consequences.

3. The most accurate position, from the historical point of view: Clan is hugely important in your game. Here, the PCs would need to understand that they are bound to obey the elders of their clan. If the PCs want to go out and adventure, they’ll need to have the blessings of their clan. If the clan wants them to do something, they need to go do it. And if the PCs start to become well known as heroic adventurers, the local clan heads will probably want to use that fame for their advantage; possibly, if they have any sense in their heads, trying to offer the PC more influence in the clan, maybe even by marriage (dare I say cousin-marriage to the clan-chief’s daughter?) or other situations of responsibility that the PC might not actually want (but will then have to figure out how to wriggle out of without offending their clan head).

In other words, if you want it to, the clan system can offer an astounding wealth of RP opportunities. And if you don’t want it, then by all means just gloss it over. Its your game.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Egg + Image Virginia

(Originally Posted July 5, 2013)

Friday, 23 September 2016

What Trump Has REALLY Done to the Republican Party

Today I had a brief exchange on Twitter, where some poor innocent (you can't blame her, she's only a journalist) commented to Reason editor Robby Soave's comment about how when he was 3 his mom dressed him up as the wicked witch of the west. She claimed that Robby's "right wing fans will become uneasy". I couldn't help myself, I responded to her (the link is above) asking her if she's familiar with a guy named Milo. Her response, some time later?
"Dear Jesus."

The Right isn't what it used to be.

And yet leftists keep wanting to imagine that the Right keeps right on being the shitty, hideous, prudish Theocons that Rick Santorum ran for.  I have a hint for you: Santorum didn't get to be nominee. Nor did Ted Cruz, for that matter. Or Rick Perry, who gets to be a reality show loser instead of a Presidential candidate.  Why? Because the Theocratic Right is slowly but surely going extinct on the Right, and they have already lost all relevance and real power.  

Donald "Two Corinthians" Trump was not the choice of the true Theocrats.

The Left also imagines that the Right are full of hideous racists, possibly motivated by evil frog-cartoons.
What they don't want to recognize, and refuse to report, is how Trump has really brought diversity back to the American Right.

Do you want to know how Trump is REALLY changing the face of the GOP and the American Right?

The latest USC (University of Southern California) poll shows that Donald Trump has almost 20% support among African Americans. Just so you get what that means, Mitt Romney got 6%, and McCain got 4%. In fact, you have to go back to 1960, when half the Democrats were still KKK Grand Wizards, to get a higher level of African American support for a GOP Presidential candidate. The highest since 1960 was Gerald Ford, with 15%. The highest in the last 20 years was Bob Dole, with 12%. 

There haven't been this many black people wanting to vote for the GOP candidate in fifty-six years

So while the media and leftists are trying to pretend that Trump will turn the right into an all-white neo-nazi party or something, what Trump has actually done is bring in LITERALLY MILLIONS of black voters to change from voting Democrat (or not voting at all) to voting Republican. 

Oh yeah, he also has 20-30% of the Latino voters, depending on which poll you believe.

I remember back in the early part of this year when analysts were saying, and I'll admit it sounded really reasonable to me at the time, that if Trump became the GOP candidate he could have a very hard time with the changing demographics of the country. But it was pointed out (I think in the Atlantic, but I may be recalling wrong) that Trump had so much support among White Males that if he could somehow get just 5-10% support among blacks and Latinos, it would be enough for him to win various swing states and have a real shot at the presidency. Then they all laughed because of course it seemed IMPOSSIBLE that would happen, right? I mean, Latinos 'hate' Trump, right? And black people voting GOP?? Especially for a 'racist' like Trump?? No way!

And now here we are. THAT is the real change Trump has brought about. Almost twice as many black people are voting for Trump than have voted for any GOP candidate in most of our lifetimes.

Here's what some of Trump's Deplorables look like: 

While the Left remains in their little bubble, protected by the mainstream Establishment Media and distracted by their fantasies about Hillary being off a respirator for more than 30 minutes a day, the Right has become the party of Gay Drag Queens, anarchists, voting Latinos, and one in every five African Americans. 

Oh, and Hillary? Having Obama very half-heartedly tell black voters that if they don't vote for you, it will "take it as a personal insult"?  That's only going to make it worse. 


Currently Smoking: Ashton Old Church Rhodesian + Stockebbye's Bull's Eye Flake

Thursday, 22 September 2016

RPGPundit Reviews: The Monster Alphabet

This is a review of the supplement "The Monster Alphabet", written by Jobe Bittman and Michael Curtis, published by Goodman Games.  It is a review of the print edition, which is a moderately slim hardcover, with a full color cover of some hapless-looking adventurers facing a freakishly mutant minotaur.  The interior is black and white, and bristling with a considerable amount of the sort of gonzo fantasy art Goodman is by now famous for. The book is roughly 80 pages long.

The Monster Alphabet is quite an interesting product.  I figured, at first glance at the cover, that it was going to be some kind of monster-manual type supplement, but that's not it at all. Instead, what we get, in gimmicky ABC-primer style, is a whole bunch of random table and options for modifying monsters and monster encounters and making things interesting. Obviously, the purpose is to enrich your old-school D&D play (though you could certainly use it with modern editions like 3.x or 5e, if what you want is to add some old-school flavor to those).

There's a foreword by Frank Mentzer (at least, I assume so, and that it's only a typo that declares the foreword to be by "Frank Menzer"), a drop-down table for monster features, and another foreword by Michael Curtis. None of these are all that interesting to read (no offense to Mr.Mentzer, or indeed to Mr.Menzer).  But after that, we get into a bunch of very weird very awesome material.

So in brief, I'm going to give you the whole alphabet right here: A is for aquatic, armor, and android; B is for blood and breath weapon; C is for celestial, construct and crossbreed; D is for dragon; E for eyeball and extraplanar; F for flame; G for geas and giant; H for hoard; I for infernal and insectoid; J for jurassic; K for kryptonite; L for lair, lycanthrope, and lore; M for mimic and minions; N for noxious; O for ongoing damage, ooze lords and ordinary; P for psionic, plant and possessions; Q for quill; R for reaction, revenge and resistance; S for sorcery and sonic; T for tail; U for unexpected; V for vampire; W for weird and wings; X for xenotransplantation; Y for yuck; and Z for zombie and zoomorphic.

Each entry is one or two pages long, and usually features at least one random table. They present the reader with options along the theme of that entry.  So for example, 'aquatic' gives you a table of aquatic attributes by which you can individualize your sea montster.  "Blood" gives you a random table of special properties of monster blood (for eldritch purposes), another table with transmutations caused by exposure to monster blood, another with methods by which monster blood can be made to have a special effect, and yet another of 20 creature-types to which unusual blood-effects can be assigned.

"Eyes" gives you a table of weird qualities of effects a monster's eyes might have. "Hoard" gives you an unusual table for rolling up random magic items; while later on "Sorcery" includes tables for random weird book effects and random wands/rods/charms (as well as a random table for descriptive kooky appearances of wizards). "Lair" gives you a table of lair locations and a table of 'bases and bunkers'.

"Ordinary" acts as a kind of master design-key for the book. It has a table of regular monsters (the types you will find in a D&D monster manual), and then a table to determine which other section of the book to look at for how to modify them.  "reaction" gives you a significantly expanded version of the classic D&D reaction table.

"Weird" is a section written by James Raggi (of Lamentations of the Flame Princess), and we're treated to one of his regular dull diatribes of his usual complaints about how 'mundane' D&D is when played by most people, and elaborating on his particular vision of 'weird fantasy'. True to Raggi form, his actual material is way way better than his blather, and he provides a d100 table of weird effects for monsters that has some very creative entries (the only thing to note about it is that unlike most of the other tables, this one has several entries that only make sense for Goodman's DCC system, and not other OSR/D&D games). Mind you, if ALL the monsters you encounter had one of these qualities (like Raggi advocates) then all the weird qualities would become boring and mundane. If every monster is 'weird', then none of them are, Raggi.

There are definitely some entries more interesting and useful than others.  Some entries are little more than tables of descriptive detail with no real effects, while other entries are full of really interesting material with actual effects that changes a monster encounter beyond the purely aesthetic (for example, some new variations of breath weapons, types of geases, or flame-based powers).

In any case, on the whole, the Monster Alphabet is a fantastically useful product to spice up any OSR or D&D game, particularly if you want to move a little bit (or a lot, depending on how often you use the book) toward the Gonzo.  There's already tons and tons of Monster Manuals out there, and frankly more of those are the last thing we need now. Instead, this lets you use the monster entries you undoubtedly already have access to, and inject them with a dose of novelty.


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Shell Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Using Mechanics to Subsidize Actual Roleplaying Only Favors Incompetence

Some people have criticized my past blog entries where I argued that the best RPGs (like old-school D&D) are superior at handling actual roleplay because they DON'T have any 'social mechanics' and just make you actually play it out.

The common complaint is "RPGs should be fair to players though; it isn't a competition; and if a player has a PC who should be able to do well at diplomacy or something like that, but the player himself is not very good at speaking or putting together arguments, isn't it only fair that the GM give him a bonus??"

This isn't really about being in "competition", but it sounds like they're saying that if you're a really good roleplayer and come up with good ideas, you should roll with just your normal bonuses; but if the guy next to you is a moron who always thinks up dumb ideas or can't roleplay worth a damn, he should get a Special Snowflake bonus so his feelings aren't hurt.
Is that not going to create a sense of 'unfair competition' from the people who do not get that bonus?
Doesn't that look like favoritism?

As far as your character failing to do things he should be able to do: the question would be WHY do you feel your character "should be able" to do those things?  In an OSR game you don't have 30 points to dump in Diplomacy so you can wave it around like a Mind-Control Superpower to avoid having to actually come up with ideas or roleplay, so that's out.

Do you feel he "should be able" because he has a high Charisma? Well, if he has a high charisma that's factored into his bonus. Players who have a high CHA AND come up with decent ideas, roleplay well, and make a good argument will obviously do better than people with a high CHA who always think up dumb ideas and/or don't roleplay their character and/or can't string together two words. But having a high CHA still means statistically, you'll do better than you otherwise would on account of your PC being likable even if you aren't capable of playing him as such.

Or do you feel he "should be able" because your mommy told you that you were special and everyone deserves a participation trophy for showing up? Because in that case, you're just Demanding to Win, you might as well think you "should be able" to find a +10 Holy Avenger sword in the next dungeon room. It's a nice thought, but you in no way deserve it and it's not going to happen at my table. Especially since your demand inherently invalidates the talent or hard work of other players at the table; who will get to see you being a socially inept doofus with shitty ideas who never actually portrays his character, and still end up doing just as well as the people who come up with all the actually good ideas.
It will make the world seem less emulative, it will ruin people's immersion, and it's a way to run a game that won't end up being fun for anyone.

If I have a player who feels they 'should be able' to do well in social situations, but doesn't, I'll try to encourage them to actually play out their character, to get more confidence in public speaking, or to think a bit harder about the ideas they're coming up with and develop some logic skills to think if its a good idea or a bad one.

If they refuse to do those things but want to be awesome anyways, then they're not really going to fit in with my games.


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary Pipe + Image Latakia

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

DCC Campaign Update: No Cleric Can Fix What's Wrong With Me

So our victorious anti-heroes have made their way back to Highbay, hoping for some much-needed rest, while the Fishman plans to perform the complicated week-long ritual required to call a patron (he plans to call for one at random).

-"What's up with you saying the fishman's name now? It's white guilt, isn't it?"

-"You should go with Sezrekhan for a patron, there's no downside!"
"I guess if you feel that being made to betray your own party isn't a 'downside'..."
"Yeah, but a lot of that is just stuff Bill was going to do anyways!"

-The PCs notice that there's very little traffic on the road to Highbay.
"Wait, do you mean traffic or 'traffic'?"
"I mean commerce"
"That still doesn't answer the question."

-Morris the thief is carrying way too many things. "I want to give away some of this stuff!"
"You are a level 1 guy, you have nothing that a 2nd level wizard like myself could use!"
"Ok, then I guess Bill can have these four wizard scrolls then.."

-The Drunken Master keeps asking the other PCs for spare change.
"Listen, I'll give you these 2gp, go drink all you like, ok??"
"Oh, thank you very much! Hey... can you spare some change?"

-When the party gets to Highbay, they find that the city has upped security.  They learn this is because, after Sandy the Warrior Queen's apparent death, the dreaded Goldeater and his armies from the city of Goldhalcon swept in and began to occupy all her former territory. Now there's no buffer zone between Highbay and Goldhalcon, and the people of Highbay fear they'll be next.
The PCs are taken to see City Controller Swanlea, pretty much the only sober man in all of Highbay, who is annoyed by their presence as usual, and as usual torn between the power they hold and the havoc they always cause when they're in town.

-"Look, we just want to rest. But, we may be attacked by minotaurs while we're here."
"You seriously haven't fixed that yet??"
"Hey Mr.Controller, can you spare some change?"
"This guy is with you? Man, you guys have gone downhill.."

-"Ok, so you'll let us stay as long as we don't wreck anything, and we fight for the city if Goldhalcon attacks. But I have a question for you: will you be bothered if some of Ack'basha's cultists end up dead?"
"Not even a tiny little bit."

-"So it's settled then. While we stay here, Highbay is our own personal playground"
"That's NOT what I said!"
"Come on, Swanlea, you know how this goes.."

-"One more question: where's BOLT-0?"
"With the Time Dinosaurs."
"Those guys really exist??"
"They sure do. I'm still shitting carbonite!"

-The Drunken Master is here for the first time, and shocked at how everywhere in town narcotics are openly bought and sold.
"Ugh, drug addicts."

-Bill:"No! Come on guys, don't fight. Killing party members is wrong!"

-The PCs make their way to Ack'basha's Temple, where they meet a monk named Brother Shebubu. The cultists have apparently heard of Ack'basha's death, but now the cult has been taken over by two old cultists named Father and Mother Shebubu (apparently, every cultist is now named Shebubu, for reasons unknown) and they've convinced the rest of the faithful that Ack'basha has actually "ascended" to a higher plane and speaks to Father and Mother, telling them what the cult must do.
They've also constructed a statue of Ack'basha made of solid Smithplium.

-Unfortunately, the cultists are not at all happy to see Bill the Elf, or as they call him, "The Dark One"!
"That's a pretty accurate name."

-The PCs try to negotiate with the cultists, promising that they just want a place to stay and claiming that Ack'basha would have wanted this. Bill also hints to them that he might be able to get back the Primo Staff soon.
"We will have to perform the rite of Commune with Ack'Basha, to determine what is his will in all this!"
"So... is that like, actual magic, or are you guys just going to get high?"
"We only get high on Ack'basha!"

-The newbie PCs go shopping in Highbay.
"I would like to buy a warhammer"
"Sure! We have a 1st edition warhammer, a 2nd edition warhammer, and a 3rd edition warhammer, but that last one is frankly a piece of shit."

-Morris buys a special deal on some armor which includes a free baggie of hashish. He tries to sell it off on the street. While he's talking to a hippie, a city guard comes by!
"HEY! What are you doing?!"
"He's trying to sell me some hash."
"Oh! OK, carry on then."

-"So until now, you've been carrying around the rotting skin of a dead man in your pocket. But now that you've got a backpack, you can put it there, like a civilized person!"

-"Tell me, Brother Shebubu, have you seen any clerics in town? We're trying to find a new one for the party."
"Clerics have come by the temple from time to time, but they always leave fairly quickly in disgust, for some reason."

-The PCs decide to place a 'help wanted' ad with a local town crier:
"Who wants to join a happy band of adventurers? Wanted: a cleric with very lax morals."

-Morris tries to find a town crier:
"Hey, you.. I have some hashish with me. I want to take you to some friends who'd like to meet you.."
"Get the hell away from me you freak!"

-The Drunken Master goes looking for a town crier, but just ends up bringing back a homeless hippie more stoned than he is drunk.

-Finally, Chu and Bill realize that if they want a job done they need to do it themselves. They find themselves a town crier, and agree to the price of 1sp plus Morris' remaining bag of hash, followed by 2sp a day, until a Cleric is found.

-I should mention that the Drunken Master continues to be a master of comic relief, stealing every scene he's in.  I keep imagining Zack Galifianakis in his role, but his player tells me that this guy was his actual inspiration:

-Now he's got some half-plate armor, though, after scamming the money off Morris, so he looks closer to this:

-While the PCs are waiting around the temple, there's a flash of light and not one but two minotaurs appear! They appear to have been teleported while in the middle of a hardcore BDSM session; they're both in leather, and one of them is in cuffs and a gimp outfit.
"Well, that's awkward..."

-The kinky minotaurs are slain.
"Should we move the corpses?"
"Nah, leave them there in the front lawn."
And indeed, by the next morning the PCs awake to find that roving hippies took the bodies.

-The next day, another Minotaur attack! This one was dressed as a postman. In the vicious battle that followed, Chu ends up using a flamethrower, lighting the Temple of Ack'basha on fire!

-"You have burned the temple! Get out!!"
"And what are you going to do if we don't?"
"We'll tell Swanlea on you."

-Reluctantly, the PCs move down the road, squatting in an abandoned building within view of the temple (so they can alert the town crier they hired of their new location).
The Alcoholic is unimpressed "I'm not used to living in this level of squalor!"

-Bill gives the alcoholic 60sp to occupy himself, he heads off to blow it on cheap liquor and cheaper whores.
"Dude, your character isn't Zack Galifianakis from The Hangover anymore, now you're just Zack Galafinakis!"

-In the course of his drunken revels, the alcoholic runs into a feasting group of bards, and worms his way into their inner circle. By the next day, still partying with them, he's apparently been hired on as their roadie.

-The rest of the party suffer another minotaur attack, just as the town crier was coming up the road to see them.
"hey guys, I found you a cleric! I---aaggghh!!"

-"is the town crier still alive?"
"Well, he's in two halves, and his spinal cord is hanging out of one of the halves... so no."

-The team sweeps through town trying to find a Cleric. After some false starts, they run into one; a fairly wimpy-looking low-level cleric named Mackwis. Just as they run into him, there's another Minotaur attack.
"Did you talk to a town crier? About joining a group of happy adventurers?"
"Me?? No! What??"
"Welcome to the party!"

-"I'm Chu, this is Morris, and the guy who was on fire and just vanished is Bi-- um... Michael! Michael the radioactive mutant!"

-"I don't want to go adventuring! I've only even been a cleric for less than a year!"

-"Hi! I'm.. Michael."
"You're on fire!"
"That's just because of a spell I cast. It'll eventually stop."
"I'm going to back away from all of you now!"

-"How long am I going to be on fire?"
"10 minutes per character level."
"Well, this is my life now."

-Morris hopes to find another cleric, the one who had been found by the town-crier before his untimely death, so he goes around offering the locals weed if they can find him.
"I'm not a cut-throat anymore; now I'm a drug dealer."
"This is your life now!"

-The other "cleric" does in fact show up the next day, but he's actually just a hippie pretending to be a cleric.

-Meanwhile, the Fishman had been spending all this time under a pier working on his ritual of Patron Bond. Eventually, a hippie discovers him there, and brings a friend to gawk at the weirdo.
"You don't want to make me get up. Get out of here now."
"We better be careful, man... he might cast Ekim's Mystical Mask at us!"
"...that's a low blow."

-The alcoholic has been touring with his band of bards, with the stage name "Lizardbreath".

-Unfortunately, the band broke up, leaving the alcoholic to regain consciousness in an utterly wrecked hotel room. There's weird liquid all over the floor that's probably a mix of alcohol and bodily fluids, and a dead hooker in the corner.

-The innkeep shows up demanding that the 500sp bill be paid, plus damages. So of course, the alcoholic does the only thing he can and jumps out the window.
"You failed your roll, and fell hard out the window, you now have 3hp left."
"You're still better off than when this started!"

-The alcoholic stumbles back to the Temple of Ack'Basha.
"You're not allowed in here anymore!"
"...who are you?"

-He finds his way to the squat where the PCs are staying, and meets Makwis the Cleric.
"I'm going to try to heal you.."
"OK, thanks!"
"...of your alcoholism."
"Wait, what??"

-"But alcohol cleans wounds! It's why I have no internal injuries!"
"I'm pretty sure you have massive liver damage."

-"Ok, so my name is Michael.. but some people call me Bill."
"Bill? Like Bill the Elf?! That's awful! Why would your friends nickname you after history's greatest monster?"

-The alcoholic is confused by Bill's attempt to hide his true identity from the cleric.
"Wait, who's Michael?"
"He is." *wink*
"Oh. Pleased to meet you.. you remind me of someone I know."

-"So where were you the last few days?"
"I was in a band. They treated me to some drinks and stuff.. then things happened. There was a dead hooker!"
"I've been there, man."

-The PCs send the alcoholic away again, to try to find some new Dutch mercenaries. He starts to ask around.
"There's some mercenaries around the docks. There's also this weird fishman, a dude is charging 2cp to see him!"
"Really? A fishman?? No way!"

-Another minotaur fight happens.
"Markus are you OK?"
"It's Makwis, actually, but yes."

-"Dutch mercenaries? Yes, I remember a while back there was a group of dutch crossbowmen. But they left with some adventurers, and never returned. Isn't that weird?"

-While rooting around the port area, the alcoholic runs into a huge apeman warrior.
"I'm looking for Bill the Elf"
"I could take you to Mike... they're very similar!"

-"I'm part of Bill's adventuring party, and they're looking for warriors to hire. Hey wait.. I'm a warrior! They could hire me!"

-"I'm seeking Bill the Elf"
"Wait, the elf??"
"They call me that sometimes."
"So you are not Bill the Elf?"
"Um... let's go for a walk, apeman.."

-"And you are?"
"Chu, you might have heard of me, I'm actually sort of a big deal"
"The warrior?"
"I've vaguely heard of you."

-"So you were just lying to a cleric?"
"If you really know Doctor Theobald, this should come as no surprise to you."

-"I serve the young Queen Zoey of Coolland, who's kingdom is threatened by her wicked uncle, the Duke of Abstinence"
"I hate that guy!"

-"Why don't you get help from the Azure Order?"
"The kingdom of Coolland has had bad relations with the Azure Order. Something about body image issues."

-"The Kingdom of Coolland is a rare place of beauty in this terrible world. I want to preserve it."
"We'll try  not to ruin it."

-"Why is this drunk with you?"
"We don't really know. We just fed him once and now we can't get rid of him."

-"Ack'Basha's dead?! And the Lord of Blood and Fire killed him?"
", yes!"
"So this is not just a job for you, you seek to avenge your friend?"
"Man, there's a lot of disinformation out there about me..."

-Meanwhile, the Fishman finally completes the ritual of Patron Bond. He chose to risk a random patron, and the one that answered his call was.. the Old Hag!
"So.. you're the Old Hag.. what's your deal?"
"There be two things ye have to know about the Old Hag: the first is that she be.. a hag!"
"Oh god, I know where this is going..."

-"So you can't offer me some form of immortality?"
"No, but ye will be able to get the aid of any old wise women ye may find."
"yeah... I think that I'm just going to try again later with some other patron.."

-Having wasted a week for nothing, the Fishman gets up to leave. But the gang of hippies who were charging 5cp for people to come see the freak try to force him to stay.
"Hey dude, he's diving into the bay!"
"Should we go after him?"
"Well.. yeah.. but.. it's water."
"Oh yeah. Bummer. Never mind."

-Bill the Elf has resorted to casting Charm Person on the cleric to keep him around.
"The cleric is going to prepare dinner for us now."
"You know he's going to despise you once the spell wears off, right?"
"He's my best friend!"

-The fishman dejectedly returns to the party.
"Hey cleric, can you heal the fishman?"
"No cleric can fix what's wrong with me."

-"Ok yeah, the thing is my name's Michael, but people... aw fuck it, I'm Bill the Elf!"
"I feel extremely upset at you, as a friend."

-"So what's your name, Mr. Ape?"
"My name is Harembe!"
"Oh fuck!"

-The team agrees to take up the cause of Queen Zoey, and so Bill the Elf prepares to Planar Step them all to Coolland. Unfortunately, he can only take so many people with him, and thus Harembe the Apeman agrees they should go on ahead, and he will follow them. He promises to take the cleric as well, but he doesn't sound very sincere.

-The PCs arrive in a field of adorable fluffy bunnies, within distance of Coolland's capital city of Gaga.
"I'm already regretting this."

Stay tuned next time, for more DCC insanity!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Solani Aged Burley Flake

Monday, 19 September 2016 Weird Religious Beliefs Edition

Did you know that there's a remote island tribe that worships the Queen of England's husband as a god? Or that Tibetan Buddhists are obliged to venerate Steven Seagal as a great reincarnated Lama? And what's up with Santa Muerte?

Find out all this and more (like what's up with flat-earther, nuwabian black supremacists, and the religion that worships the left eye of god) in my latest article: 15 Weird Religious Ideas People Believe Today!

As always, if you liked it, please share!


Currently Smoking: Stanwell compact + Image Latakia

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Classic Rant: Arrows of Indra Kingdoms Overview

The following is a quick review of the various human kingdoms of the Arrows of Indra setting. To recap, the world of the setting is called “Jagat”, the particular region is known as “The Bharata Kingdoms”, which are a group of kingdoms all relatively connected by race and culture.

So, roughly speaking from west to east you have:

Gandara Kingdom: Insanely ancient mountain kingdom; the bharata people came into the region from here. Necropolises and Naga cities.

Madra Kingdom: rough and tumble western kingdom, don’t follow all the same traditions. Bandits, frontier lands, Naga cities and Demon cities.

Bahlika Kingdom: backwater western kingdom, almost barbarian.

Kuru Kingdoms: a powerful kingdom now split in two by a succession crisis. Home of the Kauravas and Pandavas, rival cousins who are some of the greatest heroes of Jagat.

Matsya Kingdom: a quiet kingdom a bit to the south, tranquil and prosperous.

Mathura: a city state ruled by a usurper that has been turned into a place of evil. the king’s nephew and true heir to the throne, Krishna, plans to liberate it and slay his tyrant uncle.

Panchala: Another kingdom split in two, this one after a civil war between two former best friends; one a king, the other a priest (and the greatest strategist in the world).

Kichaka: A city-state, the king here has turned unholy and is said by some to be possessed.

Kosala Kingdom: once the largest and mightiest kingdom in human history, its glory days were thousands of years ago; now it has split into many principalities, and is in danger of being overrun by the upstart Maghadan Empire. Still the epicenter of civilization, full of ancient secrets and mysteries.

Kunti and Avanti kingdoms: two kingdoms on the southward trade route. Frontier places on the edges of civilization.

Southern Kosala and Vidarbha: the lands to the south of the riksha mountains, far away from civilization; settled by colonists from the Kosala kingdom when it was at the height of its power. Gateway to the massive Dandaka jungle and its monkey-kingdoms and demon-ruins.

Maghadan Empire: The new up-and-coming powerhouse. Ruled by a favorite of Shiva, said to be able to regenerate any wound, the empire is spreading out and conquering through submission or war every other land in its path. Its ruler wishes to be emperor of the world.

Videha Republic: an ancient mountain land of seers and sages, now conquered by Maghada.

Ceda Kingdom: a vassal state of the Maghadan Empire, ruled by a wicked and degenerate ruler.

Anga Kingdom: another vassal state of the Empire, ruled by Karna, the greatest warrior in the world, said to be the son of the Sun-God himself.

Dwaraka: Far to the west and south, an island kingdom of rich seafarers. A mystical place of one thousand temples.

I think that’s the lot of them; hope that fires up your sense of imagination for what the game is like!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billiard + Image Latakia

(Originally Posted April 23, 2013)

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Send me your videos!

As well as writing for them, I'm working in the video division of

If YOU have a funny video you taped yourself, be it about animals, fail videos, impressive feats, kids doing something funny, or weird humor, or shocking stuff, feel free to message me about it.  If its your video (and it doesn't make use of any licensed music, characters, film clips, etc) then you might be able to make a little bit of money off it.

So feel free to get in touch and have me check it out!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Gone GMing

No blog entry today, I'm busy running Dark Albion at a local gaming event!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

RPGPundit Reviews: The One Who Watches From Below

This is a review of the Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure, "The One Who Watches From Below", written by Jobe Bittman, published by Goodman Games. It is a review of the print edition, which is a staple-bound 'module' with a glossy color cover (featuring a weird entity with a giant eye for a head), and a black-and-white interior that features (as usual for Goodman products) a wide variety of really impressive gonzo-style old-school artwork. The book is about 24 pages long.

The adventure is presented as being for 6-8 adventurers of 1st level. Now, in my experience I have to say that DCC modules are always pretty malleable. You can easily adjust it to fit a variety of levels; and in any case, most DCC adventures have a pretty high rate of lethality in following with the genre.

This being an adventure, I'm going to be more succinct and cautious with what I write about here, as is my usual habit when reviewing adventure products (as opposed to rulebooks or setting books).  This is to avoid spoiling the adventure for potential players. The core of the book is a decent-sized dungeon-crawl. Being a DCC product, you can expect it to be a very creative kind of dungeon crawl, of course, with some weird and crazy elements to it.

So the adventure starts out with the premise that the PCs hear of a temple to one of the "old gods", which contains the power to answer any question you might want answered, and which also must somewhere contain the vast amount of treasure that is required as an offering to use this power.  Curiously, the adventure-writer seems to assume that a party will be more interested in getting at the delicious treasure than getting a question answered. I mean, he does offer a scenario where the PCs might go there to get a question answered, but the scenario from then on proceeds with the supposition that the PCs will ransack the temple.

In my own DCC campaign, at least, I have no doubt that my players would be WAY more interested in the question-answering power of the temple.  To be fair, they would also proceed to ransack the temple. So I guess fair is fair in this case.

The temple has some significant defenses, not least of which is a pretty nasty curse that is also a bit mechanically complex for a GM to handle.  Guidelines are presented for running the curse, which is not quite like anything I have ever seen before. I'm pretty sure that players who run into it (and it will be very unlikely they would avoid it, if they behave in the standard PC fashion) are going to be pretty damn shocked by it.  Fortunately, the adventure also provides as means to break the curse, which is neither impossible nor so easy as to make things trivial. Some of the details of how the author suggests the curse be run (in terms of how he thinks players, rather than their characters, should have to act while their PC is under the curse) seems a bit gimmicky to me, but I suppose some GMs might like that, while the rest of us could ignore that bit.

The temple itself is a multi-level dungeon of a standard sort, but full of the kind of weirdness you expect from DCC. The presence of feral (mutant) halflings similar to those in my own DCC world are a nice treat.  The various areas are well written, with details to the different features of each room, and where significant guidelines as to how characters suffering from the temple's curse are affected or can interact with the area.  There's a couple of very significant areas at the 'end' of the dungeon, which include some extra-planar stuff and an extremely dangerous foe for the character-level suggested.

There's excellent maps and some nice though non-essential player handouts. The layout and organization is such that a GM who has read through the adventure once before playing should have little trouble managing the actual play.

One detail I'll mention in praise of the adventure is that it is NOT a "nega-dungeon".  That is to say, unlike certain OSR products, it doesn't just screw around with the players, and actually offers significant reward at the completion of the dungeon, though without making it too easy for the PCs. That's a welcome feature if you're not the kind of GM who thinks that every adventure needs to just be a mindfuck that punishes player ambitions or teases the PCs with promises that will not be delivered.  Even so, for low-level characters this will be an extremely dangerous adventure; but by virtue of not being a nega-dungeon, I don't particularly think there's anything wrong with that.

If you're running DCC or any other kind of gonzo OSR game, you will likely find The One Who Watches From Below to be a worthwhile product.  Particularly if what you want is something that is still in the style of classic dungeoneering but with some creatively weird twists.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Egg + Image Virginia

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Coming Soon: Two-Fisted Tales 2nd Edition!

Two-Fisted Tales is just about my favorite Pulp RPG, and aside from Lords of Olympus probably my very favorite RPG published by Precis Intermedia.  I ran a lengthy campaign of 2FT 1st edition, and it was awesome.

And here, in an RPGPundit scoop, I'm leaking the cover to the brand new, upcoming, SECOND EDITION of Two-Fisted Tales! Check it out:

The new edition, I've been assured, will be considerably expanded. And that's saying a lot, because the first edition already had a ton of material, and was playable at a variety of power levels.  Pulp, as you know, is a genre that encompasses a significant variety of material, ranging from ultra-gritty "film noir" stuff like the Maltese Falcon, to Indiana Jones stuff, to low-grade supers action like The Shadow or the Green Hornet, all the way to pulpier supers-level stuff like the early Fantastic Four.

Word from Precis boss Brett Bernstein is that while there's not a fixed date for the release yet, it will be happening fairly soon, as the book is very close to completion.

Meanwhile, if you don't want to wait for the second edition, the 1st edition of 2FT is on sale at a reduced price, right now!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billiard + Image Latakia