The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Wild West Campaign: Retribution

In this session, Kid Taylor has gone off for Christmas in Dodge city with his family.

The rest of the PCs were in Tombstone, where an old friend of Virgil Earps, a newly-retired sheriff named Oren Bailey, had come to town on the way to California. He was living it up and enjoying the bustling town, and had fallen for a girl at the saloon of the Cosmopolitan Hotel where he was staying.

The next day, though, Virgil came back and told the Millers to keep an eye out for any suspicious characters. He'd noticed that Oren had suddenly gotten nervous, and he wondered if his old friend hadn't spotted an old enemy, like one of the cattle rustlers from Derek McClue's former gang that he'd helped break up in Oklahoma. They agreed to keep an eye open for him.

Meanwhile at the Oriental Saloon, Big Nose Kate had a favor to ask of Jackson and Luke Short. Doc Holliday had been playing and drinking for the last 48 hours straight, and he was not looking good but didn't want to stop. He wouldn't listen to Kate or to Wyatt, so she asked them if they could think up a way to get him home.

Jackson decided to try by convincing Doc that next day some high-stakes player was going to be coming in and he should get some rest before that. But Doc saw through his ruse; and when Jackson refused to admit he was lying on Kate's behalf, Doc made Jackson a deal: he'd go to bed but there'd better be a high-stakes player tomorrow night when he comes back. Or else.

So Doc headed off, while Jackson and Luke Short were left wondering just who they could get that would be willing, or just dumb enough, to lose a lot of money to Doc. They decided that Ike Clanton might just be dumb enough, if he had any money, and headed to the pool hall to look for him.

But along the way, they suddenly heard two gunshots! Heading into the alley the sounds came from, they found a trio of men who had apparently been assaulting a fourth; but one of the three now had half his hand blown off and a second shot in the shoulder.   Getting closer they recognized two of the men: the one taking the beating and doing the shooting was Doc Holliday! The guy who was leading the assailants and just got most of his hand blown off was Johnny Tyler.

Those of you who watched Tombstone the movie might remember Johnny Tyler as the bullying but cowardly faro dealer who Wyatt Earp threw out of the Oriental, and who Doc Holliday later abjectly humiliated.  Both of those events truly happened (though not at the same moment), but so did this one, where later on Tyler got a small gang and tried to beat Doc Holliday to death.  Only someone as dumb as Johnny Tyler would bring clubs to kill the best shootist in the west.

Even so, Doc  would have been in real trouble had Luke and Jackson not spotted the attack. They drew fast (well, Luke drew fast; Jackson is known as the slowest gunfighter in Tombstone), and while they drew Doc shot another of the attackers in the thigh. Tyler tried to run but Luke shot him in the back of the thigh too. The men surrendered.  Tyler was bleeding severely, and Doc, apart from his bad beating was also struck by a severe attack of his consumption.

Doctor Goodfellow arrived, and the injured parties were quickly taken to his clinic. He saved Tyler's life (and would eventually even save most of his hand); though he was particularly mystified by Doc's condition.  He'd had severe tuberculosis for 7 years now, which was six-and-a-half years longer than one would be expected to live; and he'd managed to survive while engaging in neronian levels of drinking, smoking, gambling, sex, and gunfights. Even the greatest doctor in the west found him a medical mystery. He ordered Doc Holliday to take bedrest, but of course Doc would have none of it and by the next evening he was back gambling.  But he was truly grateful to Luke Short and Jackson; the latter had been quite nervous about the lack of a high-roller for Doc, but he told him to forget about it. He bought Jackson a drink and asked him, in a somewhat vulnerable tone, if he'd ever chanced to hear about the first man he'd ever killed: it was back in Georgia before he'd finished his dental studies. He and a group of friends had gone to a swimming hole and found three young black men there. They warned them to clear off, but the other men wouldn't leave, and Doc shot at one and killed him. This was a year before the consumption, before he'd known anything about how to really handle a gun, or what killing was, or dying. He mused on just how strange life was, that now these many years later, his younger self would never have imagined owing a black man his life, or having a drink with him. Jackson was a bit shocked by this whole revelation and Doc's frankness, and answered that he'd never expected to be sharing a drink with someone like Doc either, and that it's funny how the west changes a man.

The next morning found another tragedy: that same night, undiscovered by anyone in the tumult of Doc's fight, someone had murdered Oren Bailey. Virgil Earp was bereaved but also determined to find out who was guilty of the crime. Crazy Miller had asked around and in a chat with Buckskin Frank Leslie found out there were two suspicious characters who'd spent the day before hanging around the Cosmopolitan Bar that had "the look of being either Texans or Okies".  Virgil decided to check to see if anyone matching their description had been at any of the various livery stables in town; and sent Morgan to talk to the saloon girl Oren had been sweet on.

They found out that the two "Texans or Okies" had  indeed left that morning, picking up their horses from a stable. Other Miller also discovered evidence that they had been watching Oren when he took the saloon girl (Daisy) to dinner.  Virgil had sent word to Oklahoma about Oren's death, and the town where he'd worked immediately put up a $500 reward for information leading to the capture of whoever was responsible. At this point they were fairly certain that these were the killers, so Virgil planned to lead a posse to go after them.

They were just about to leave, when suddenly Daisy the Saloon Girl showed up and claimed that she knew who killed Oren: her boyfriend, a miner named Clem. She claimed he'd told her so himself just after she'd met with Morgan. She also told them where to find Clem, and warned that he'd likely be violent.

Virgil, Morgan and the PCs were quite confused now. All the evidence they'd found so far pointed to the two strangers, but there was apparently a new suspect, who'd claimed authorship of  the murder and had every reason to have done it. In the end, they decided to split up; Morgan and Jackson would stay behind and go arrest Clem, while Virgil and the Millers would go after the two Okies.

Morgan Earp and Jackson headed to the miner's shack where Daisy said Clem would be found. Morgan gave Jackson a rifle and told him to keep it aimed, then he told Clem to come out. Clem seemed to have no idea what was going on but was quite aggressive nonetheless, until Jackson called out to him warning that he shouldn't try anything. Clem surrendered, insisting he hadn't killed no one and didn't even know what in tarnation they were talking about.  Later, when they told him that it was Daisy who accused him he became furious and swore he'd kill her, which certainly didn't win him any points. But even so, Jackson felt he seemed so sincerely baffled by all this that he had to be telling the truth. On further interrogation, Clem claimed that he'd been at the Tombstone Mines until 4 or 5am that morning, and had only arrived in town around 8am, long after Oren had been killed. He'd been up and drinking at the Mine camp until sometime after 10pm, and there were at least 20 men who could testify to that. This all made it even more unlikely he was guilty, but they couldn't understand why Daisy would have lied.

Meanwhile, Virgil and the Millers followed the trail up to the Dragoon Hills, where they eventually spotted and snuck up on the Okies' camp at night. They got the jump on them, the Millers both armed with rifles, and Virgil with his pistol, and ordered them to surrender. The older of the two men stayed put but the younger tried to run for his horse: Other Miller shot off most of his foot. They surrendered, and after some intimidation from Virgil they essentially confessed to having killed Oren. As Virgil suspected, they were cattle rustlers out for revenge.

They got the prisoners back to Tombstone. They still had the problem of Clem the miner, but Virgil suspected he knew what had really happened: he went to check and confirmed that shortly after the news got out about the $500 reward, Daisy had checked at the post office to confirm that it was true. She'd obviously been mistreated by Clem, and figured out a way to be rid of him and to make herself enough money to get a new life for herself (something she'd clearly had the hope of doing with Oren Bailey before he'd been murdered).

So even though none of them liked him much, they were forced to let Clem go, and to arrest Daisy for her false accusation. It wasn't a perfect ending, but it was justice.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Gawith's St.Jame's Flake

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Classic Rant: We Can "All Just Get Along" When You Stop Trying to Censor Me

So, in the last day or so, something of a shitstorm has emerged in the hobby when a semi-Storygamer named Mark Diaz Truman posted a blog entry called "Two Minutes Hate", where he (impressively, I must say) admitted to some of the HORRIBLE behavior of the Storygaming crowd, and called for some kind of rapprochement between the OSR and Storygaming. 

This led to several people on both sides commenting on it. I'll be fair and say that some Storygamers were expressing thankfulness for the post and feeling it reflected something they felt for a time. Others, especially the Usual Suspects of the Outrage Brigade, have already begun the process of teaching Diaz Truman the things too many of us in the OSR and regular gamers in general are already well aware of. Prepare to face a campaign of ostracism and marginalization, amigo.

On the OSR side, most of the commentators have expressed some degree of happiness with the post and begun chanting kumbayahs about how we should all just get along now and put the contentious past behind us.

Allow me to provide you with the dissenting vote.

Now, I'm not the 'boss' of the OSR and don't claim to be (unlike certain others who have tried to make the OSR their personal fiefdom). 
But for me, I have no reason to seek a rapprochement with the gang of assholes who have spent years lying about me, slandering me, trying to have me censored, trying to have me blacklisted, and, most importantly doing this to everyone else in the hobby that stands in their way of controlling it.

If the Storygamers want peace, there's a simple answer: stop trying to invade the hobby. 
Stop trying to censor games or blacklist game designers. 

Apologize for the people in your movement who have told outright lies about so many of the OSR's writers.

Nothing will be fixed as long as they keep demanding we accept their ideological agenda or be silenced. And I won't stop until they stop trying to do that. Contemptible actions demand contempt in response.

Now I know, you may be saying "can't we make peace now, instead of still fighting over ancient history"?

But the thing is, the Storygamers love-affair with censorship is NOT 'ancient history'. It is happening RIGHT NOW. There are major leaders in the Storygame movement that advocate censorship RIGHT NOW. 

Anyone who does not unequivocally denounce censorship and anyone who advocates it, including the pulling of games from OBS or other website, the attempted banning of dissenters from social media, or the attempted blacklisting of people from working in the hobby, will never ever see peace from me. 


Currently Smoking: Neerup Bent Billiard + Image Latakia

(Originally posted July 27, 2016)

Friday, 13 July 2018

Video: Stuff They Taught You Wrong About D&D: "Equal Time"

So I ran a little late in making this video, but here it is.

I've been hearing this advice for newbie D&D DMs all over social media (especially twitter), saying "it's really important you give all your players equal time"!

That's horrible advice. And here, I explain why.


Currently Smoking: Ben Wade Canadian + McLintock Syrian Latakia

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

DCC Campaign Update: Captain Fred Batman

As of our last episode, after having gotten themselves lost, the PCs finally got found by Roman, only to find they'd missed about 7 weeks of side-quests, and now there's a whole army of Goldhalcon troops, Halconlords, some Azure Wizards, and random mercenaries all ready to invade the lands of Zozzsz so the PCs can get the Derpy Horse of Destiny into the pit of the Nether Regions to seal it and banish Zozzsz forever.


-"You all got teleported to the army camp by Cyberpunk Roman."
"He's just normal Roman with a haircut and new glasses!"
"That's all it takes!"

-"Where's the War Council, Roman?"
"There is no war council."
"Then who's in charge?"
"I am! Now, let's go to the Command Tent."
"That's what I said!!"
"No, you said War Council."

-"OK, Vegomagus you come with me. The rest of you stay here."
"What the fuck, Sami?!"
"Have I been demoted?"
"Is that the real Sami?"
"Vegomagus is the other smart one."
"Did the Vegomagus learn Charm Person and use it on Sami?"
"He hasn't learned a damn thing."

-Sami and Vegomagus go to the Command tent. Aside from them and Roman, there's also Captain Harry, Republican Jesus, Lady Halcon, and Bort. Plus Pertinax (who's still insane), an Azure Order mage named Corellie, and the commander of the Goldhalcon army.
"I'm the commander of the Goldhalcon forces. My name is Captain Fred Batman."

"Um.. yes?"
"Are you a knight?"
"Would you say you're a... dark knight?"
"Not really. I'm a gold mutant."

-The other PCs outside learn that Lenny also wasn't invited to the Command Tent.
"We can make our own war council!"
"Boy did I miss you guys. Bort got really lame after a while."
"Lame? Wait... did you eat Bort's legs?!"
"What? No!"

-"So, could we maybe get nukes? Er... non-lethal nukes?"
"I love how Heidi keeps trying to make slight pathetic efforts to still convince himself he's a pacifist."

-"Welcome to the Command Tent"
"Fuck you, Roman."

-"So, Captain Fred Batman, you're in charge of leading the combined army of allied forces."
"Would you say that these are a kind of... League?"
"Well, yes."
"So, Batman has put together a League?"
"Um... sure."

-"Pertinax has the Advanced Magic Missile Spell, but maybe Vegomagus should learn it somehow, as a backup. I mean, otherwise if something goes wrong with Pertinax, and it looks like a lot could, our whole plan would be ruined."
"Hmm. Yeah. That's a good point. And I guess he MIGHT just have time to memorize it in the time it will take us to get to the heart of Zozzsz's realm, if he goes along in some kind of transport and spends all his time in study."
"So like, a Mobile Masturbation Hut?"

-Korean Jesus beams down some extra ammo for the PCs, which Republican Jesus blesses.

-Sami tries to use Divine Aid to speed up the Vegomagus' learning of Advanced Magic Missile.
"Almighty G.O.D., grant this Nerd the power to comprehend his spell faster!"

-But Sami rolls a 1, and once more her tablet shows her the choice to Update her User Agreement to "All is Sezrekhan". Once again, she taps "maybe later".

-Heidi goes off looking for Captain Harry, his grandson from the future. He finds him in a tent with one of the Azure Wizards.
"Sorry Grandpa.. I like traps."

-"Sami, I was thinking about your situation with the Vegomagus."
"Yes, Captain Batman?"
"Well, I could let you take my carriage with you, I won't be needing it."
"So, like, the Bat-carriage?"
"I don't get it."

-Catboy goes to hang out with the Halconlords, out of boredom, and within a few hours, he wants to join up with them.
"So you seriously want to join their cult?"
"Yeah. They had such camraderie."
"So they're like 'na na na na na na na na Ribond' and you're all like 'na na na na na na na na Batman- I mean Ribond'!"

-Catboy is taken to Lady Halcon by some of his new Halconlord friends.
"Lady Halcon, Catboy here wishes to see the Ribond. He is a skilled assassin."
"I've seen no proof of that."
"Well, if you did see proof then I wouldn't be a very skilled assassin, would I?"

-Sami and Batman come looking for Republican Jesus, who is late to go lead the mercenaries in a distraction maneuver on the border of the demon realm (since as a Celestial, he can't enter it).
"You find him in Roman's tent, with Vizi. All three are stoned like crazy."
"Sami, can you cure him? Cure Poison?"
"No, it's Heal the Lame."
"Because drugs are lame, kids?"

-"So Captain Batman, does your army have some kind of warrior-scouts?"
"So like... martial manhunters?"
"Well, yes, but now you're really stretching it."

-Lady Halcon agrees to let Catboy see the Ribond, but Sami forbids it.

-"Vegomagus is using Captain Batman's carriage, so it's the Masturbation Batmobile!"

-That night, Lady Halcon takes the Catboy away in secret and shows him the Ribond, a mass of swirling colours in a mirror. He has now become one with the Ribond, and puts on the Halconmask.

-Sami is pissed at Catboy's conversion, but Lady Halcon defends her choice.
"He'll be more useful now."
"How?! Two times zero is still zero!"

-"Lady Halcon pissed me off, so after all this is over I'm going to sever her link to the Ribond."
"And catboy?"

-The "batman signal" is set off by advanced scouts, but it turns out to be friendlies, the half-starved rag-tag group of mutants who call themselves The Rebellion.
"The whole Rebellion has answered your call, General Bort."
"How many are there?"
"Ten guys."

-"The Ribond has fixed me."
"The Ribond fixed the catboy?"
"Yes, and it can fix you too, Vizi."
"No thanks, I like my balls."

-"The Ribond has chosen me!"
"That doesn't speak well of the Ribond."
"Yeah, seems like the Ribond has low standards."

-Sami is keeping watch that night when she hears noises.
"I cast Sanctuary on myself."
"Do you wake us up?"
"What part of 'I cast Sanctuary on myself' did you not understand?"

-"I have to put my armor on."
"Goddamit, Heidi."
"OK, here's 500gp. Use Divine Aid to get my armor on, then."

-"There's these horrible zombies, guys! They eat human flesh! We have to stop them!"
"I love Lenny's hypocrisy."

-"So is Catboy now Halconcat?"
"Or Halconboy."
"No... Boylord!"
"Yeah. We're definitely going with Boylord. It's the most humiliating new name."

-Heidi gets the divine aid to put his armor on and flies at the Zombies who are mainly assaulting Bort's incompentent Rebels.
"Go Iron Man!"

-"Does Captain Fred Batman's army have a cleric?"
"Yes. Cleric Gordon."

-The party splits off from the main army; Captain Batman leads that army to distract Zozzsz's Orcish forces while the PCs take the Derpy Horse and the casters toward the barrier of Darkness.
"So what's the Derpy Horse like?"
"His bottom half is human, and he can barely even stand."

-"The Rebellion sucks."
"They're not the Rebellion we need, they're the Rebellion we deserve."

-"Follow my lead, Catboy, and be cautious."
"Don't worry Lady Halcon, 'cautious' is my middle name. Cautious Catboy."
"You have too many names."
"He's also an asshole."
"That's his third name!"

-"The Rebellion is badly malnourished."
"Did you guys see the Goldhalcon army's gruel? Man, that's some quality gruel!"

-The PCs are travelling with the Bat-cart, where Vegomagus is learning Advanced Magic Missile; and another cart with a cage on it, containing the Derpy Horse of Destiny. And tied to that cart is Pertinax, on a leash so he doesn't wander off.
"Man, Bill the Elf just WRECKED Pertinax."

-The Vegomagus completes his studies, and manages to learn Advanced Magic Missile. But his mercurial effect is that every time he casts it, there's a cumulative 1% chance that he opens a rift into the Outer Void which would likely cause some terrible Void creature to come out of it.
"well, I'm sure that won't be a problem."

-That night, in the watch, Vizi is trying to go out of his way not to talk about his feelings with Sami.
"What the hell? Every single member of this party is becoming more pathetic!"
"No, I'm fine! I'm a mean blue killing machine!"

-Roman and Lady Halcon are commiserating together. Roman tells Lady Halcon to kill the Vegomagus if he tries to foolishly cast Advanced Magic Missile. Catboy is listening in on their conversation when he's suddenly attacked by a giant bloodworm (a common predator in these lands).  Lady Halcon slaughters it by throwing her wine cup at it.
"You were eavesdropping on us."
"Well, yeah.
"You are not to discuss this with anyone. That's an order."
"Yes, I obey."

-"That's fucking it. I'm changing catboy back. Is Lady Halcon around?"
"She's close by."
"Is she watching?"
"She is, she's watching you, and she's toying with her cup."
"...I back away."

-"Psst, Sami... can you change a mercurial effect?"
"Maybe. Why?"
"I think someone's going to kill me."

-"Hey Lady Halcon, why aren't you as annoying about being a Halconlord as Catboy is?"
"He's just enthusiastic. He's only just discovered the Ribond."
"Were you like that?"
"Yes. The Ribond changed my life. It gave me purpose."
"Hey! I remember when we used to have a purpose! We shot it out of a cannon after stuffing it with C4!"
"Vizi, that was a Porpoise."
"oh yeah."

-They run into a band of 100 of Zozzsz's orcs. The party deccides to make a distraction to allow the main group to pass.
"OK, short stick has to take the Vegomagus?"
"Good. Here's the short stick."

-"Here's a retractable hoverbike."
"Cool! How does it work?"
"It hovers."
"Yeah but I mean how high and stuff?"
"You'll learn that the hard way."

-"Everyone ready?"
"One sec, Vizi has to get his gun."
"One sec, Heidi has to put on his tiara."

-"I use Divine Aid to summon up a+9 phantasmal army!"
"You didn't roll very well. You get 1 phantom soldier, no sound."

-Vegomagus blows the horn of Elfland and summons a fae army!
"Faeries, attack!"
"No, dumbass, we're trying to get them to chase us over here!"
"Then, Faeries, retreat!"

-"Oh no, there are so many of you orcs, I sure hope you don't charge forward to get our loot!"

-The group pulling along the cart with the Derpy Horse spots a Wraith Prince flying by. They contact the group making the distraction.
"There's a Wraith Prince coming your way!"
"Prince or Princess?"
"Does it have a dick?"
"It doesn't matter you assholes!"

-"We flee!"
"So you abandon the retractable hoverbike?"
"No, we retract it."
"OK, sure, that only takes 1 round, it might be the difference between life and death, but whatever."

-"The sacrifice of my men will be remembered."
"Will it Bort?"
"Yes. I'll build a statue to them when this land is liberated and I make myself its king."

-"I want my sword now, Harry."
"Uh, well, I agree with Sami and she said no. Sorry Heidi, Sami is an asshole."

-"If you have the sword you become unhinged, Heidi."
"Yeah, he stops being a pacifist."
"Wait, is Heidi still a pacifist?"
"OK, when he has the sword he stops pretending to be a pacifist!"

-"What if I just hold onto the sword but don't draw it?"
"Your reputation precedes you, grandpa."

-The PCs arrive within eyeshot of the great Wall of Darkness, about a mile distant.
"Ok, here's the plan: one of the jetpack people-"
"Wait, we should do straws again!"
"No, fuck you Heidi, it's your turn!"

-"Um.. Pertinax, can you cast fly?"
"I fly through space and time!"
"yeah but.."
"I exist in terrible eternity now. I have known the Advanced Magic Missile!"
"Holy shit he's broken."

-"Pertinax will cast magic missile first, then Vegomagus if he fails."
"I know there's a tiny tiny risk, but maybe they should both cast at the same time? A round might make all the difference."
"Yeah, OK. Fuck it, why not? It's only a 1% chance."
"Famous last words."

-"So when Heidi drops the Derpy Horse into the pit to the Nether Regions, all the bad guys will go away, & Heidi will be safe?"
"um... yeah... sure.."
"Oh good!"

-"To be sure to hit at this range, you'll need to spellburn 21 points."
"Damn it, I only just recovered from my Patron Bond spellburn!"
"Tough. Easy come, easy go."

-"I can't miss. Except on a 1."
"Famous last words."

-"Pertinax's magic missile doesn't roll high enough, it's out of range for him. It's all up to Vegomagus!"
"Oh god!"

-"I got a 39! I did it!"
"Don't forget to roll for the chance of opening a gate to the Void Beyond."

-"Well, the bad news is that a Void Gate opens in front of you and this horrific tentacled being from the Void slides through it.  The good news is that your chance of a void gate when casting Advanced Magic Missile is now back down to 1%."

-"Heidi, I assume you're still trying to fly over the Pit to the Nether Regions."
"Hell yes. I throw the Derpy Horse in!"
"The Derpy Horse is freaked out and trying to cling to you. Who would have thought it wouldn't want to be thrown?"

-"Do I see Eagle flying in to save us?"
"No. Even if Zozzsz is a cheap knock-off of Sauron, your cheap-knock off of Gandalf is Roman, and he's a piece of shit."

-After some strength checks, Heidi manages to throw the Derpy Horse off him and it plunges down in to the pit.
"It's shouting 'Rhy? Ri Rove Ru!!' in a scooby-do voice as it falls."

-Sami avoids being paralyzed with cosmic terror, and grabs Vegomagus and starts flying out of there with her jetpack.

-Roman says 'fuck it' and uses what appears to be high-level magic to teleport everyone else (except Heidi, Sami and the Vegomagus, which are not in his range) some 50 miles away.

-"Heidi, now that you've thrown the Derpy Horse, you see that the Wraith Princes are being sucked into the Nether Region Pit as it collapses, as is the dark tower of Zozzsz. Are you flying back toward the Void Horror?"
"No. I'm flying in exactly the opposite direction."

-"Vegomagus, the Void Horror is speaking into your mind, telling you that it will give you great power and transform you into an agent of the dark ones if you freely offer it all the rest of the party member's souls."
"After thinking about it for a second, I say no thank you."

-"We are totally fucked!!"
"I have only one option. I'm invoking the King of Elfland!"

-"The King of Elfland teleports the Vegomagus back in time!"
"Yes! Maybe I can stop this!"
"Unfortunately, it only sends him back 5 rounds into the past, which means the Void Gate is already open; and you're now standing right next to it."
"Goddamn it!"

-"Wait, so there's two Vegomaguses here now?"
"So is this like a Timecop situation?"
"More like Looper."

-"OK, I use all the spellburn I have left to burn, and cast magic missile again, to try to destroy the gate."
"Well, yeah, since it's Advanced Magic Missile you can cast it at the gate."
"If you roll 1% again I'm going to fucking kill you."

-"I made the roll!"
"Yeah, but just barely. You do 3 points of damage, which does nothing."
"Well, we're totally fucked now."

-"Just like before, you hear the Void Horror speaking into your mind, both of your minds. The you from the past responds to the Void Horror's offer the same way as before, saying no thank you. What do you say?"
"I tell the Void Horror that instead I offer my own self, and my soul at the end of my existence."
"It accepts."

-"What did you do?!"
"Actually, right after you accept, it's been 5 rounds since you were sent back into the past. So suddenly the you that went back into the past ceases to exist. The Void Horror screams that it has been tricked, and it vanishes as well."

-"Wait.. so I stopped it?"
"Through no actual fault of your own, yes."

-After incredibly having managed to close the Nether Region Pit, and defeat Zozzsz, and stop the Void Horror, Sami eventually manages to contact the Sun (now that Zozzsz's power no longer blocks communication), and Korean Jesus eventually teleports them up.
"About time!"
"Korean Jesus very busy!"

-"We actually did it! We solved everything and now we get to go to the Crown of Creation!"
"Well, yes but remember that first, you have to go on a quest for the King of Elfland to repay him for sending you back 5 rounds into the past. Your quest is to find him a pair of Comfy Slippers!"

And with that astounding climax to the long-term mission so far, but with at least one Side-Quest left to go before the PCs can finally go to stop Sezrekhan, we say goodbye. Stay tuned next time for the Epic Quest for the Comfy Slippers!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Acorn + Image Virginia

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

20 Medieval-Authentic Sinister Supernatural Encounters

This week, we present you with RPGPundit Presents #38: 20 Medieval-Authentic Sinister Supernatural Encounters.

In this supplement you get 20 different short encounters, playable as an encounter during overland travel as part of a larger adventure, that are all based on medieval folklore or legends, to varying degrees of liberties.

Some are straightforward, others are  more complex. You get things like a dangerous but mentally-addled revenant, a cursed barrow mound that creates a trap in space/time, a baby-eating witch and her deadly rabbit familiar, some wicked goblins, viciously intelligent faerie wolves, a chimera (complete with random chimera-generation tables), a dancing sword, a giant, a crazy lustful dwarf, and many more!

Everything includes statistics (for Lion & Dragon, but usable with any OSR ruleset), and details on how the encounters will react to the PCs' decisions.

It's a 31 page sourcebook, for $3.99, and you can pick up 20 Medieval-Authentic Sinister Supernatural Encounters on DTRPG, or from the Precis Intermedia Webstore.

And while you're at it, be sure to pick up the rest of the great supplements in the RPGPundit Presents series:

RPGPundit Presents #1: DungeonChef!

RPGPundit Presents #2: The Goetia  (usable for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #3: High-Tech Weapons

RPGPundit Presents #5: The Child-Eaters (an adventure scenario for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #17: The Hunters (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)

RPGPundit Presents #21: Hecate's Tomb (an adventure for Lion & Dragon!)

Stay tuned for more next week!


Currently smoking: Brigham Anniversary + Image Latakia

Monday, 9 July 2018

Pictures From Uruguay

So today I could have written about how the guy who doxxed me is allegedly being doxxed, or how the guy who lumped me in with nazis is being called a nazi. But fuck them both.

Instead, I'll post pictures from Uruguay!

In my neighborhood (the Cordon) there's a number of houses that are found in pedestrian alleys in the middle/center of a block.  This is an example of one of those alleys. Note the attractive kitty who some of you might recognize from my videos.

This here's an impressive looking church-tower, a couple of blocks from my place.

As usual, some interesting street art! This is from a little plaza with some swings and benches.

More street art!

And more!

Finally, in the great Rodo park, which is a few blocks from my house, here's a fantastic statue of Confucius (one of my favorite philosophers). He was donated to the city by the Chinese government in the pre-Mao era.

Anyways, that's it for today.


Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Virginia

Sunday, 8 July 2018

RPGPundit Reviews: Simple Superheroes

This is a review of the RPG "Simple Superheroes: The Roleplaying Game of Infinite Powers and Possibilities"; written by Joshua John Kitz, published by ComposeDreamGames.

As always I'm reviewing the print edition of the game, which is a softcover book, 118 pages long. The front cover features a fiery-caped sueprhero-type dude about to face some kind of strange crisis in the skies. The interior has sparse comic-book art, done in a combination of moderately-decent superhero-comic art, amateurish superhero-comic art, and funny-pages cartoon style humorous art.

I should also note that, I don't know if this was just my copy, and/or if this was intentional or not, but my copy came in a plastic poly bag that is highly reminiscent of comics themselves. It's even listed as "Issue #0".

I'm a very tough customer when it comes to Supers RPGs. There's basically only one I've ever really liked: ICONS.  Every other game seems to me to have failed to really effectively do emulation of genre. Simple Superheroes has a few things in common with ICONS, but also some significant differences. We'll have to see if it measures up.

The game jumps right in with character creation. How is this handled? Instead of random or point buy, you start out by selecting an "array" of abilities. That is to say, you can pick a set of numbers, one of which is standard, another is focused, the third is 'well rounded'. With these numbers, rather than attributes, you select 'talents'. The definition of 'talents' is pretty vague, but they're generally speaking powers or the different applications of powers or special techniques.
Based on these talents, the GM assigns a 'superpower finesse' rating, based on how many talents related to a particular kind of power they have. Your finesse rating affects how flexible your ability with a power is, and how far you can push it using 'strain' points (one of two health measurements, the other being 'lifepoints').

After this your character has to choose some relations (people they're connected to) and values (things they really care about), as well as a weakness.

The basic die mechanic for the game is to roll a number of d6 dice equal to the rating you have in a talent (which can range from 1 to 5). Every die rolled that equals or surpasses a difficulty number is considered a success. In other words, a dice pool system. Not my favorite.

Talents have certain descriptors that help clarify just what a power does. So for example a character could have '4-strength (mgt:f)' which means "4d super strength, might-based, functional".

The power levels of just what those 4d6 could do would depend on what tier of campaign play you are operating under. You can use "Vigilante", "Empowered", "planetary" or "cosmic" hero levels. Each of this represents a significant leap in power level from the earlier tier.

There's some guidelines for how to start playing the game, basic stuff really like figuring out a city where the PCs will be situated, etc. The game recommends playing in an episodic kind of format, with each adventure being an "issue".

There's an ample and detailed (15 page) section on task resolution, including pretty much most things you'd need to run stuff like conflict, complex challenges, extended conflicts, time, areas of effect, etc. The chapter after that deals with handling different powers, with guidelines (the designer warns to take these guidelines with a grain of salt) for different levels of ability in runinng, jumping, lifting, handling things like flight, teleportation, invisibility, mind control, technology, devices and gadgets, etc. There's a list of very basic statblocks for thugs, criminals, and police/paramilitary. Also for handling enemy groups like strike-forces.

The Gamemastering chapter starts rather badly, by talking about how an RPG is all about 'collaborating' with the players. But curiously the sections that follow are actually very traditional, for the most part. The GM is clearly marked as the judge who determines whether a talent can be used in any given situation. There is some vaguely storygamey elements like the idea that players can ask for things like "can my PC's friend be here" and the GM should then decide if they can be, but it's still clear the GM can say no. Guidelines are also provided for universe-building; including a set of questions for the GM to answer as a means to set up the world.

The following chapter is all about setting up your city and scenarios. It starts out with some pretty good questions to help flesh out the style and character of the city, including small details that help the place feel more real. Then you get a couple of sample cities to look at. You're also given the option of assigning 'traits' to cities to help quantify the state of things like institutions, socio-demographics, and industries. Then there are a few guidelines for creating scenarios. The whole idea is a bit more stratified than how I usually do things, but it's OK.

The next chapter includes a very long list of enemies and NPCs, including a group, a government organization, and lots of lone operators. This takes up the whole final section of the book, somewhere over 40 pages.

There's a long list of characters, but none of them are really all that interesting or memorable. Some are corny, others are observably inspired by known comic characters. This is a typical problem with Superhero games; the 'worlds' always feel like second-rate copies of the major Marvel/DC universes, unless they have gone radically different in style, in which case they suffer from the problem of not feeling enough like Marvel or DC.

I think cutting this last section at least in half, and including a bunch more useful adventuring material aside from NPCs could have been a good idea.

Anyways, to wrap things up: Simple Superheroes doesn't have anything terribly wrong with it. It just doesn't really do anything special either. It has mechanics that are a little different, but not really all that satisfactory in terms of dealing with the major issues of Supers RPG, of making it work so that you can have batman be as awesome as superman, and more awesome than Power Girl, while at the very same time making sure beast boy isn't nearly as awesome as Superman or Batman.

In other words, the problem that in terms of emulation of genre for mainstream supers, your power has to matter less than some kind of ephemeral protagonism.

Ultimately, Simple Supers is maybe a little closer to this than very stat-oriented rules-heavy conflict-based superhero games like Champions or Mutants & Masterminds, which always feel to me like they utterly miss the point.
But on the other hand, it's not as good as ICONS, which still comes the closest to what I would want in a supers RPG.

So should you get it? Well, maybe if for some reason ICONS doesn't do it for you, and neither do those other games, you may want to give it a look, and something about Simple Superheroes might click for you. But if you do like ICONS, you aren't too likely to like this game better.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Quiete + Gawith's Commonwealth

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Classic Rant: My Approach to Social Interaction in RPGs

Well, the last couple of classic rants have generated a lot of discussion on the subject of social interaction in RPGs, and why I think most systems for "social mechanics" (much less 'social combat' or things like that) are abominable.

But a few people seemed to have some sense of confusion as to how I could in one blog entry praise the mechanics of the Reaction Table from D&D as an example of a useful social-RP tool, and in another condemn the idea of using social skills/mechanics/whatever as a substitute for actually being required to ROLEPLAY it.

This is clearly a result of people not having really read, or not understanding, how I make use of the Reaction rolls in OSR play. So it's time to be more specific about the nuts and bolts of it.

Note the way I make use of the reaction table. The great thing about the reaction table is that it is highly generalized.

Here's what I do, so people get a sense of what I'm talking about: in a social situation, the player will FIRST roleplay (not first "roll diplomacy" or whatever other skill is Mind Control In All But Name). They will have to interact with the NPC through in-character conversation and make use of whatever speaking or rhetorical tools they have and want to use. After this, I roll a reaction check, which is modified by the following things:

a) the CONTENT of what the player had his PC say, measured by how relevant that content is to what might actually move the NPC based on the NPC's motives, interest and personality. So if you are trying to bribe a guard with money, the modifier for this might be positive if the guard is either greedy for or desperately in need of money; neutral if the guard does not find the money being offered worth risking his job/life over; or negative if the guard has no interest in money (especially if he thinks being 'bought off' is an insult) or has some kind of loyalty-to-employers or code of honor that would cause him to take offense at the very idea that he would be corrupted in such a way.

b) the STYLE of how the player said it; if the player was efficient in communicating what he was trying to offer, and also if he did so in a way that felt immersive of his character and not like he wasn't really speaking in his character's voice.

c) the CHARISMA MODIFIER for the PC.

This put together gives me the number (and the place on that table's spectrum of reaction) that would be a general guide to the current state of the NPC's reaction to the PC's social actions.

This is radically different to making roleplay irrelevant and leaving it all to mechanical foofaraw.

The key, to sum up, is that Roleplaying is put FIRST. You don't act out a meaningless charade of chatter based on how your roll went, you roleplay first, and then roll reaction. And the modifiers to reaction are weighted to favor roleplaying more than the attribute modifier: what strategy you pick in terms of what you're saying, whether what you're saying has some kind of coherence or interest for the person you're trying to interact with, whether you said it in a way that was reflective of your character, and only after those what the character's default talent (i.e. the Charisma modifier) might be in terms of how to make (or fail to make) an impression.

That's it.


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

(Originally posted July 11, 2016)

Friday, 6 July 2018

So Jessica Price Just got Fired, Here's What I Have To Say About That

The kindest thing I can say about Jessica Price being fired is "I'm glad she's no longer around to keep doing harm".

Karma, like Jessica herself, is a bitch!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Video: Kraken Dice Under Attack by SJWs for 4th of July Sale

My newest video, made at Bill the Elf's house (guest starring his dogs)!

A dice company is under attack by SJWs, in spite of making rainbow LGBT dice, for Not Being Leftist Enough... and for having a 4th of July sale. Because, you know, America is "evil".


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Half-Volcano + C&D's Morning Drive

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Lords of Olympus Play Report #2: The Primordial

So, here's the second play report for Lords of Olympus, which I'll remind you is presented by one of my players, not myself. Except the pictures, and notes in italics. Those are my additions.

Play Report #2

At Hecate's School of Wizardry

Ralph has continued to study, looking enthusiastic about the idea of summoning Daemons to bind them with his weapon from Albion Earth, Alfbrand. Yet he is contacted again by this mysterious man, claiming that Paneb s life is still in danger...and he must run to the caves! But BOLT-Os arrest has put the school on it's edge. Guard Mummies are being deployed to keep students from going away.

Meanwhile, Paneb has made efforts towards finding a way to contact his father Hades...he's gathered information about him, but has not yet found a way to actually talk to him. As he is revealed of the continuing menace to his life on the school, he gathers the help of Apophenia and Paredolia as they are having breakfast with Ralph...finding Jesuses and dungeon maps on their toasts.

(Pareidolia: seeing an image where none exists)

Paneb tries to deceive the students using his glamour and transforming himself into some hot actress. He manages to touch one of them, reading his mind about the mysterious wanderer that bore the dire warnings, Uncle Roman! He afterwards tried a stealthy escape "by running really fast"...which is a great way to get noticed.

Having gathered the necessary information, both Paneb and Ralph try to run for the caves...but they where attacked by 5 more of the terrible Shadow Demons! Ralph used his own powers and managed to turn Alfbrand on fire again, yet the Daemon that he summoned repeated the same prophecy of Paredolia, that Ralph was this sort of "impossible child"....

Uncle Roman wanted to take Paneb with him, telling him that he would take them to a place where "everything would be explained", so after they fought the Shadow demons, Roman suggested Paneb to take some strange drugs with him. While Roman was planning on leaving Ralph behind, Both Paneb and Ralph insisted on going together. So now, the three of them are going on a strange LSD trip through the caves, with Uncle Roman trying to "lose" Ralph on the way, to no avail....

With the EM Men

While still trying to find Sea Goat, the EM men take on the job to spy on Elon Musk through his camera systems. Pressured by Fito, Cyclops (Whose real name turned out to be Brontes) reveals a test with three magical resonating coins to inquire about his origin as a Deity. As he resonates with the coins, he discovers that Fito is actually born of Olympian Origin...Fito explains to Cyclops how he is displeased on Elon´s hiding of the truth.

Elon gets into an argument with Cyclopes, while Guillermo was spying on them with the camera system, but as Elon found out, he cast a shroud of darkness that obstructed the camera´s vision. They both went running towards them, but as Arrit started following, Elon's humongous genetically-modified cat that she had taken as a pet beckoned her to move in a different direction. Now alone, Arrit found Sea Goat, who had infiltrated the EM headquarters at Antarctica and told Arrit to go with him and escape. Blindly trusting him, Arrit got into a Tesla submarine and went with Sea Goat to Atlantis, as Sea Goat revealed that he was actually Briareus, one of the Hecantocheries, and that he did not trust Elon Musk but wanted to help Arrit to find about the secrets of her immortality.

When they got to the great kingdom of Atlantis, they met with Triton, son of Poseidon, who told them that Poseidon was not there, allegedly doing "some kind of nonsense".

Elon was confronted by Fito and Guillermo, who confessed to being the son of the God Hephasteus, and told them that he wanted to help them, as he did not think that it was fair that they where abandoned. Doing some DNA tests, he confirmed that Fito is actually an Olympian, but he was shocked when he discovered that Guillermo is actually a Primordial, born likely from parents who preceded even the Titans!

The EM men decided to find Arrit and Sea Goat, and so, the heroes hopped in another Tesla submarine with Brontes and Elon Musk to follow their path to Atlantis; but Sea Goat, knowing they would follow, warned Triton of the menace, and Triton did not seem pleased...

In The Architect´s City

As Helena, Corey and Aetos tried to reach the Resistance´s leader (aptly named "Toilette") through wandering around the bazaar as they were told, they where not approached on the entirety of the day. Helena discovered that this was likely because they never met Aetos, and therefore did not trust him. Aetos decided to part ways for the night after sharing to Helena the mental image that he had of the Architect as read on the Minister´s minds, and Corey and Helena went back to their hotels with the hopes of trying again tomorrow.

Disguising himself as a guard, Aetos ambushed a pair of the City´s henchmen, and read their minds, obtaining the information that these guards are apparentlty modified humans, brainwashed and nearly stupefied robots controlled by the state. He managed to also obtain info on their sleep schedules, locations, weapon desposits and access points to those weapon deposits. He now felt confident about his amassing of information, knowing about the Minister´s next meetings, their identities, locations, and even the area where imigrants enter the City; but when he returned to the hotel, agents of the science ministry of the city "invited" him to peacefully come with them to their headquarters. Being left with no choice but escape or compliance, Aetos informed Corey and Helena and left to the science ministry in hopes of obtaining more information that would help the team to aid the resistance.

Apparently, Aetos' wanderings had gone too far, one of the old age judges he had sex with had suspicions about him when he read her mind, and had decided to leverage her influence to capture and study Aetos. As he was placed in a small waiting chamber, they tried to doze him off to sleep with a potent gas. Protected by his Metamorphosis, Aetos tired of the judge´s and scientists tricks, and decided to punch his way out of the ministry, by transforming into an 8 feet tall gigantic ultra equipped version of the statue of Rhodes.

After what was arguably a lot of guard punching and mind reading, Aetos found out that a terrible monster had escaped the science Ministry before, and that the scientists where very worried about this incident to the point that they had prepared a missile launcher should they find it. He decided to wreak havoc on the place, then he managed to track down the judge (now aptly nicknamed "Sonic the Hedgehog" for her amazing speed in both bed and escapes) and the scientist that had plotted against him, grabbing both´s face´s and flying away to the forest, but not before sending a last message to Helena and Corey, telling them that he would be unable to contact them through cellphone as he would be tracked, and breaking both his phone and those of his newfound prisoners.

Meanwhile, Helena and Corey used the distraction to get in touch with the resistance. Apparently, there are two resistance groups, the one run by Toilette, who is interested in Helena. Toilette revealed that she was actually the child of the minor Goddess Cloaca, Goddess of the Sewers, and that their main goal is to have her meet with Moon Girl, a masked hero of the city who is allied to the resistance, and get her out of the City by any means necessary.

The second group, the "League of Liberation of the City" are an armed group of militant terrorists, who had a special interest in Corey, because when they where founded twenty years ago by the mysterious "Lord of War", he predicted that an immigrant named Corey would appear and ultimately defeat the government of the City. Corey went with them, unsure of how to help them.

On the last moment´s of the session, Helena met Toilette´s brother, called "Latrine" who was gravely wounded, as he burst in to the Resistance's hideout bearing a dire warning, saying that "the door that must never be opened" had finally opened.

Where is Uncle Roman going to take Ralph and Paneb? Can we have some of his drugs? What are Sea Goat´s intentions, and why does he distrust Elon Musk? How will the now divided group manage to escape the city? And more importanyl, how many NPC names based on toilets could we possibly have left?

Only Fate truly knows.