Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Seven Days, Seven Blades of Luck - Luck Drinker

Luck Drinker is a scimitar of the finest craftsmanship. Sand dragon skin wrapped hilt and large hematite pommel counter balance the blade of folded meteoric steel. When drawn from it's matching ruby encrusted sand dragon skin scabbard it emits a "peening" sound like a tuning fork or every anime sword evar. When blocking or being blocked by another weapon it tends to throw white hot sparks. Created long ago by a Djinn in response to a poorly worded wish. It is none the less sought after by the greatest swordsmen who would rather rely on their skill than on the variegates of chance.

[the FUDGE rules] Attack rolls made with this sword will move one step closer to zero (e.g. +2 becomes +1, -3 becomes -2). In addition natural rolls of +4 and -4 become 0. So, the effective range of 4dF is +2 to -2. In other words this sword "drinks" both good and bad luck.

I'm not sure how to convert these rules into a d20's non-bell curve mechanic. For those unfamiliar with FUDGE the idea or this sword to remove some of the "luck of the dice" so those skilled with swords could get more consistent results. Fudge already emphasizes skill over dice with it's bell curve. This just took that a step further. Perhaps make it a bell curve. Use 2d10 instead of d20 for attack rolls with Drinker. Or shrink the high/low. Roll d10+5, no great rolls but no horrible ones either. Or both 2d6+3? It has to be and has to be obvious to a fighter with +10 to hit that using drinker will be better over time.

[From the series Seven Blades of Luck and examples of Magic Items Should be Magical. All seven blades were once part of an article I submitted to Fudge Factor a sadly defunct e-zine for FUDGE.]

Austin Game Scene 2009

Austin Area FLGS's

Battleforge Games - Central, "home" of the Austin D&D Meetup.

Dragon's Lair - Central, huge! Got some of everything and lots of somethings.

Great Hall Games - Central, specializes in all the non-RP games.

Kings Hobby - Central, lots of models and wargamey stuff, used RPG books area.

Pirate Ninja - NE Pflugerville, awesome friendly place, used RPG books area.

Rogue's Gallery - North Round Rock, strip mall.

These stores also have strategy games, comics, miniatures, CCG's, and lots of fun stuff. Check them out. A google map showing their locations.

Austin Area Game Conventions

OwlCon Feb 6-9, 2009 Rice University, Houston - RPGA, LARPs, Boardgames, Miniatures, Historical Minis.

ChimaeraCon Mar 14-16, 2009 San Antonio - Boardgames, CCGs, Miniatures, The Beastmaster!

ProtoCon ?? 2009 Texas A&M - RPGA, Boardgames.

MillenniumCon Nov ??, 2009 Round Rock - RPGA, Historical Minis, Boardgames.

Meetups & Other isn't the best thing out there, but it is out there.

I started the Austin RPG Meetup. It got going fairly well, then I quit going/organizing, quit playing games, pretty much quit talking/socializing with anyone... (depression seriously suxes). I lack the energy/excitement/time to work on this meetup again. In April '09 my "organizer" subscription runs out. Maybe another local will pick it up.

With needed encouragement and assistance from Flynn I helped build momentum for the Austin D&D Meetup. Of course the "retreating into oneself period of depression" mentioned above disconnected me from this as well. Not sure of its current status, looks strong and active. I hope to find out for myself in the new year.

Pen and Paper is an online player/game registry which I've used successfully to find fellow Austin area gamers.

Euro Style Boardgames

Great Hall Games - Saturday afternoons, Fridays until midnight!

Dragon's Lair - Mondays starting 7pm.

Gives me Stone, I am the Shaffen Master!

Links O' Names

Ever since I read "All Games Need Names" by Katharine Kerr in my copy of Dragon #75 I've been facinated by fantasy name and language generation. Although I've rarely(ok never) put in the effort to create my own fantasy language naming scheme. I started a couple times but it was always tedious work instead of fun like drawing maps.

I've learned to appropriate names instead.

Hello my name is Oak Veneer Nightstand
I still tend to name dwarves out of my Ikea catalog.

Googling for baby names brings up lots of sites like this one for Indian Names. The cool part is they usually list meanings for the names. Which is esp awesome for players and a great incentive for them to create names that "fit" the cultural background of their characters yet still have personal attachment. And in case you don't find it here's the Canoical List of Evil Baby Names.

Kabalarian Philosophy goes one step beyond. Detailing the (I assume) Kabalistic importance of over 802,169 names. Sadly they want $15 bucks to see more than a sampling from each of 120 or so languages. Still, it's worth looking at. Did you know that if you were a Zoroastrian named Beezu that your questioning, critical, practical nature makes you prove all ideas to your own satisfaction, rarely accepting anyone's word or ideas. And, the name Beezu creates a dual nature. For you desire to systematize your life to progress step by step, but frequently you are taken into new experiences, instability, and change. Huh, I wonder if Norm is modern white boy for Beezu?

For my first campaign I went to the map library at the Univ. of Kansas. In addition to drooling over topo maps of fjords I copied down lists of place names from Norway and Finland. Using one each for the two big cultures of my world. It's an easy way to have consistent and reasonable sounding names. Although, I'm sure native speakers would laugh at my NPC's named "Big Forest" or "Valley of Red Trees". Today you might use google maps instead. But their maps tend to be a bit sparse for the more interesting parts of the world. Besides there are better sources of names, generators!

Walled City of Lord Lau
Villainesses, Gnomes such as Dwobbert and Wimmalkin, a bit silly Sword & Sorcerish Sites and the like can all be found at Nine French Boys. Well, slap my reptilian, pimply netherbits! they have a smattering of amusing non-name generators as well.

Inspiration Pad has a heap of generators including various name ones split up by culture and gender which is nice cause you know boys and girls are different. Harn Names, CyberPunk Corporations, Taverns, and many more.

Cult of the Squid generators let you choose between various cultures or themes. Using a specific unique generator for each culture really enhances the verisimilitude of a campaign world. For my current game I used related Roman and Latin name generators for the ancient and modern versions of the primary language.

But Philllip Riley's Page is probably the best source of real world name generators. From Teutonic to Basque, Egyptian, Hindu, Russian, Frankish, Norman(represent!), Yiddish, Persian, Hawaiian! Many more including a few fantastical ones such as always useful Medieval Street Names.

Lutzur's Primordial Enmity
Dying Earth Spell Names are a bit specialized but far too awesome not to mention. Some other interesting generators are linked from there. There's also PERL code and data to generate a slew of name styles from real world and fantasy languages.

The Seventh Sanctum I believe gots the most generators of all. Their "normal" name ones are kind of weak. But they have several unique generators. My favorites being Lovecraftian & Wrestlers. Who doesn't want to see the cage match Harold "Hateful Soldier" Perkins vs L'zothaach!

Garden of Forked Paths & Earthly Delights
Abulafia is the bomb, a very slow to load the bomb but none the less the BOMB! A wikified random generator, Zomg! I don't have enough adjectives, aphorisms, and acronyms to convey the awesome in my pants right now. Their name section, they have everything you are looking for. Cause if it ain't there it's up to you to add it. I'll have a pint of Ape Destroyer Ale. Quick wench! Before the Halfling Hippies stink up the bar. Can't wait for tonight's Wonderful Fraternity of Ultimate Man-at-Arms gathering. We're watching Tosyleelaneyptodplooopal's travel pics from the Dread Doldrums of Eternal Peril.

Frymorulor, huh?
I do not fancy(too random) the Bard's Tales Name Generators with standard, short, long, and "hard". But maybe just the thing for weird tales / pulp fantasy or any campaign were Kargen & Notor traveling to the Crystal Palace of Xithanm to steal back the red princess from Kortem the Twisted fits in just fine.

Yet more randomish fantasy names YAFNAG

Post a comment with your naming sources and check again next Wednesday for more semi-thematic links from my collection.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Seven Days, Seven Blades of Luck - Flynn's Edge

Flynn's Edge, a thin slightly curved saber, is much too light for its silvery metal blade and guard to be anything mundane. The richly carved basket guard bears no inscription neither does the blade or grip. Nor can any maker's mark, crest or other identifying symbols be found. Although many tales, songs and legends have been written about Flynn's Edge few even the authors realize it. Storytellers recount the daring exploits of the charming Dread Pirate Roberts, not his sword.

A wave of confidence overcomes those picking up Flynn's Edge. It is hard not to swish it through the air and make a few practice stabs perhaps accompanied with a swashbuckling "aha!" For as long as it is carried the owner will be prone to jumping up on tables, blurting out sarcastic insults and clever witticisms, swinging from rigging, chandeliers, banners, eschewing helmets for jaunty caps, and the like.

No matter how unskilled the wielder of this weapon is they always hit. What they hit, although, is up to luck. When fighting with this sword determine the number of eligible targets which include enemies, friendlies, neutrals, and possibly inanimate objects such as the chandelier chain. Then make a die roll to select one of them to be automatically hit. If the wielder is particularly lucky allow them some advantage in target selection such as altering the target selection roll by +- 1 post facto. But, skill/THACO/class/levels/etc have zero effect.

Damage is much less than normal and is often harmless but worthy of a dashing swashbuckler (e.g. cutting off target's ponytail, popping the buttons off their blouse, pricking friend in the ass so they jump out of harm's way). During combat the wielder of Flynn's Edge is empowered with astounding acrobatic skill. This exists to expand the number of eligible targets and promote flamboyant maneuvers.

This sword is not cursed in the sense that it can't be put down or abandoned. But, hopefully the player has so much fun with it they are loath to give it up. And frankly if they aren't then they are not worthy of Flynn's Edge.

[From the series Seven Blades of Luck and examples of Magic Items Should be Magical. All seven blades were once part of an article I submitted to Fudge Factor a sadly defunct e-zine for FUDGE.]

Monday, December 29, 2008

Seven Days, Seven Blades of Luck - Beggars' Bane

Beggars Bane looks more like a show piece than an actual fighting blade. The blade is thin and frail looking. Its elaborate cross guard is gold alloy and mounted with purple corundum and clear green emeralds. The pommel, also gold alloy, is decorated in relief with a laughing face spewing coins from its mouth.

When this sword inflicts damage it produces a "ka-ching" sound and for each wound inflicted 1-6 coins of the smallest denomination common to the area fall from the point of impact.

Created for a despicable merchant who loathed the "lessor people" constantly begging spare coins as she traveled about the city. Although, she gladly acquiesced to their demands with this sword until her throat was slit during a burglary of her house. Beggars' Bane was the only item looted.

[From the series Seven Blades of Luck and examples of Magic Items Should be Magical. All seven blades were once part of an article I submitted to Fudge Factor a sadly defunct e-zine for FUDGE.]

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Seven Days, Seven Blades of Luck - Gambler's Point

Gambler's point is a short stabbing dagger of black iron, simple cross-guard also black iron, and wood handle. The pommel is ivory carved into a pair of dice showing three and four.

Normal as far as combat goes, this dagger's power manifests when its owner is involved in a task or game of chance (e.g drawing of straws, card and dice games, lotteries, flipping a coin). If the owner is thinking of a particular outcome then that outcome will occur (e.g draw an ace, roll 7). It doesn't matter if the outcome they are thinking of is "good" or "bad" for them they get what they "ask" for. If they aren't thinking about any particular outcome then the normal, random outcome will occur. One way for the DM to handle this is to keep the mechanics secret and decide what the owner is thinking based on what the player says in and out of character.

[From the series Seven Blades of Luck and examples of Magic Items Should be Magical. All seven blades were once part of an article I submitted to Fudge Factor a sadly defunct e-zine for FUDGE.]

DMG Based Dungeon Generator

In my current 3.5 campaign the players will be shortly chasing after the Keys of Time, which are spread all over various alternate dimensions. Since I totally got bit with the old-school bug I've decided one of the keys will be found in an old-style Dungeon Crawl Dimension. The characters will start in a 10'x10' dark room(hope they have someway to make light). In the corner will be a 10' pole, a lantern, bundle of torches and a backpack filled with 3 flasks of oil, 10 spikes, a hammer, 50' rope, flint&steel, 1 wk iron rations, and a potion of healing. In each wall will be a wooden door, stuck of course. From there I planned to use the random dungeon generation tables from the DMG. But they turned out to be too unwieldy for use during game. So, I whipped up this simple program to do all the rolls and table lookups for me.

After doing a couple of test runs, I'm a little disappointed with appendix A. Not enough stuff (monsters/treatures/traps), too many freaking wide passages. Too many levels up/down (for my purposes).

For v2 I'll change passages widths to 50% 5', 30% 10', 20% other. Make Traps/Treasures/Monsters more common. Add in room types and dungeon dressings from the other appendixes. Maybe simplified tables to generate magic items, wandering monsters.

There's probably a million of these, this one is mine. Python source

Python is keen, by far my favorite programming language. It's a bit like modern rules lite RPG's, there's very little syntax and "rules" to it and what there is has a consistency. Makes it easier to tinker with. For instance the ability to redefine how objects are converted to strings, __str__, lets me define random tables that "roll" themselves when printed. Like so
Door = table_d20(
  ( 6, "Door left leading to a", Beyond_Door, ),
  (12, "Door right leading to a", Beyond_Door, ),
  (20, "Door ahead leading to a", Beyond_Door, ),
Beyond_Door = table_d20(
  ( 4, Passage_Width, "parallel passage extending 30' in both directions. Or 10'x10'.", ),
  ( 8, Passage_Width, "passage straight ahead.", ),
  ( 9, Passage_Width, "passage ahead/behind 45deg.", ),
  (10, Passage_Width, "passage behind/ahead 45deg.", ),
  (18, Room, Contents, ),
  (20, Chamber, Contents, ),
The simple python statement print Door will randomly roll a d20, say 11, look up matching row in Door table print "Door right leading to a ". Then roll another d20 this time on Beyond_Door table, which leads to other tables and text and so on.

Those are interpreted (along with a few helper classes/functions) by this relatively short class. Not stupendous but I like how simple/clean/flexible the table definitions are.
class Table(object):
  """Object that when evaluated into string will return random result from table"""
  def __init__(self, dice, *table):
      """@param dice: callable that returns something comparable to x.
      @param *table: list of tuples (x,foo1,foo2,fooN) where x is comparable to return value of dice and foo? are evaluatable into strings.
      self.dice = dice
      self.table = table
  def __str__(self):
      """@return: foo1,foo2,fooN stringified and space separated, from row in table where x >= return value of dice.
      return " ".join(str(s) for s in self.get_result())
  def get_result(self):
      roll = self.dice()
      for row in self.table:
          if row[0] >= roll:
              return row[1:]
      return self.table[-1][1:]

def table_d20(*table):
  return Table(lambda: random.randint(1, 20), *table)
The table_d20 is a helper function to return a Table object preset to use d20 for its dice rolls. It takes a list of arguments, *table, which in our case are the rows of the table. It passes those along with a lambda function that returns a number between 1 and 20 (our d20 die). We need to wrap the random.randint in a lambda so it's callable, since we want a new random number every time we "roll" on the table.

The Table classes __init__ is nothing special. And the __str__ function just applies the str builtin to each item in the list that self.get_result() returns. It then compiles them all into one string, added a space between each one. If you did now know __str__ gets called whenever the object is converted to a string. e.g str(obj) is basically obj.__str__()

The get_result has all the action. It "rolls the dice" then iterates over the table rows looking at the first item until it finds a match. It then returns all but the first of that row's items. There's a fail safe, if no matching row is found it returns items from the last row.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wizard Dolls

Prince Guba, an accomplished wizard himself, is said to have created the first magical doll of this type for his daughter, Negoshka, a hundred and seventy years ago. It has since become fashionable for court wizards to create and present them to their boyar patrons. The Tzar's personal collection is said to contain dozens.

A Wizard Doll is an enchanted variety of a folk craft common throughout Novaka. Made of wood or very rarely metal, vaguely egg-shaped doll, richly decorated with paints, enamel, or carving. They divide
horizontally across the middle revealing a slightly smaller doll of like construction nestled within. Yet another doll awaits inside this one and so on until only the smallest sliver of wood remains, the baby doll.

"Opening" a doll releases the magical enchantment it has been imbued with. This enchantment manifests but once. Each doll's decoration provides clues as to the nature of the enchantment but the exact effect is never documented. Debating over what a doll might do is one reason these gifts remain so popular with the upper classes.

Sample doll effects:

Vedomye Zheny(wise woman) - Decorated with cracked aged paint depicting an ancient, wrinkled crone in peasant cloths and holding a black kettle. When opened a nearby fire/oven will become temporally enchanted. If no cooking apparatus is close, a mystical fire and kettle will form/emerge from the ground. No matter the form, it knows what the doll's owner needs better then they do and will magically prepare it. If they are sick or wounded, a healing tea will be brewed. If they are about to embark on a hard day's travel then a nourishing and energizing stew will appear. If they are lovelorn, well you get the idea. At the next sunrise the enchantment fades / fire & kettle returns to the earth.

Tzar's Army - Doll is of a stately costumed soldier of the Imperial Guard. When cracked 2-4 mystical beings (spirits of past soldiers) coalesce from mists. They will not communicate in any form. They will, at all times, act as highly disciplined soldiers obeying orders of the doll's owner until vanishing at daybreak.

Winter Scene - W
rapped around this "doll" is a finely painted landscape of a grand sleigh speeding past a warmly lit Izba. Soon after splitting the jingling of tiny bells and neighing of horses will be heard. Moments later a red sleigh festooned with fanciful decorations including silver bells will briskly arrive and alight a few steps away from the owner. A silent skeletal coachman in matching livery will then hop down and bid them, enter. The sleigh and barely visible team of phantom horses will transport four adults and a small amount of equipment with great speed over ice and snow. Disappearing at journey's end or the next sunrise whichever occurs first. If ground conditions aren't appropriate for a sleigh all within earshot will hear the sounds of an approaching and then departing sleigh followed by the dissapointed crying of a young girl. The magic is otherwise wasted.

The Guard - One side has a typical stern faced foot soldier dressed in blue, and the other portrays the same soldier dressed in red but wearing a curious smirk. Soon after its opening a man dressed in blue will arrive (walking out of the woods, entering the bathhouse, etc.) He'll offer to serve as
watchman and guard in order to repay an ill-defined debt the details of which honor forbids him to reveal. He avoids combat but performs his guard duties admirably having senses far superior to those of any natural being. After alerting the owner to some harm the man will indicate the debt is paid. Changing his dress to red he offers stay on for very reasonable fee. If accepted he will at some point betray the owner (leading an enemy to camp, stealing horses when needed, etc.) and mention as he leaves that he owes owner a debt.

[Example magic item from Magic Items Should be Magical an article I submitted to Fudge Factor the sadly defunct e-zine for FUDGE.]

Friday, December 26, 2008

Magma Staff

It is said that at the source of every volcano is a sliver of stone chipped from Surt's (blind god of fire) big toe as he stumbles around the deeps. Surt's anger continues to burn in these slivers and from them gushes all the magma that eventually makes its way to the surface destroying any settlements unlucky enough to be near. The only way to staunch the flow of molten death is for a great hero to plunge into the volcano's heart and remove the sliver.

This staff was long the possession of Drazk Doublebeard, evil high priest of the Pilzn Druegar Dwarf clan. When the great wyrm Alganor roasted and ate every last Pilzn Dwarf the staff was presumed to have become part of Alganor's vast hoard. That is, until today when intrepid adventurers discovered it half encrusted by minerals, in a subterranean pool.

This Magma Staff is a solid piece of rough, dull obsidian. About 4' in length tapering in a cone shape of 1"-6" thickness. It is quite heavy, 40lbs, and always painfully hot to the touch. Readily melts snow, wax, and similar materials it is held near or stored with.

Upon mental command copious amounts of molten rock, sulfuric gasses and other deep and fiery effluent "shoot" out the staffs larger end producing a loud low whooshing sound. Being hit by this will hurt a lot! These rules may apply. But, the stream is slow, short-ranged and easily dodged. Depending on the ambient temperature, which will quickly rise the more magma that is spewed about, the magma will cool (relatively) and form a weight-bearing crust surprisingly quick. By laying down layer upon layer barriers can be built, ramps formed over walls, etc.

This item is one which it's up to the players to surprise the DM with effective uses. Or for the DM to add effects as needed. Perhaps, "drawing" a magma pentagram opens a gate to the City of Brass. Or, if used too often uncontrolled, angry fire elementals will squeeze out along with the magma and gases.

[Example magic item from Magic Items Should be Magical an article I submitted to Fudge Factor the sadly defunct e-zine for FUDGE.]

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Magic Items Should be Magical

Grognardia is is right "Serendipity seems to strike a lot in the blogging world." Besides that there is 6d6 Fireball's Branded Magic and this question from some old guy.
This and the related accompanying magic item posts (which will be posted over the next ten days) are updated and edited content from two articles I wrote for Fudge Factor a, sadly, defunct FUDGE e-zine .

Make it a personal goal that every magic item your players pry out of you will be notable and prized by the player who obtains it. It will have a name, colorful description, history, previous owners, secrets and above all it will be mystical, wondrous, and exciting. Invest as much time detailing items as you do on NPCs. After all it is likely that non-expendable items and the character will have more interaction and a longer relationship than the character will have with most NPCs.

Make Items Special
Create a 3x5 note card for each item to give to the lucky new owner (keep a separate card or notebook for secrets about the item the player has not learned yet). Providing something tangible that the player receives, can hold, point to, wave in the air, throw across the room when it fails, and is missed when taken away is a bit of psychological trickery. But trickery I know from personal experience creates heaps of fun. Unfortunately, it takes no small effort esp if like me you draw pictures too. But Mike Mearls is doing it so it must be awesome!

The cards also provide space for descriptions, pictures, history and what not. Occasional additions to or outright replacement of the card should be made as the player discovers the item's secrets. Reserve the back of the card for player notes; where they keep it, thoughts on how it works, great deeds accomplished with it, whatever. In manager speak you want to facilitate player "ownership."

Never flat out tell the player what an item does. Know how the scariest of scary movies only hint at the BBE, similarly the awesomest of awesome magical items are slowly revealed. Provide one detail in an epic floor-to-ceiling mural on the temple facade in which the item was found. Another in a song the players hear several sessions later. Do not include mechanics in your descriptions, do not break immersion. Do not even later state the mechanics out loud for the whole group to hear, provide them privately. Allow the player an opportunity to roleplay item's explanation and usage.

Even if you want the players to know everything upfront don't just blurt out "It's a Horn of Blasting, can demolish doors, walls, small structures and does 6d6 to constructs." At the very least say in you best fabulous voice "Aha! You have found the legendary Trumpet of Droog. A single note of which shattered the stone guardians of Thool. A sustained blast will crack and crumble city walls and demolish lesser structures." Pass the game mechanics to the owner in a note, or hey on that 3x5 card you made for this item.

Alternatively, tell players everything but not how to make use of it. A cache of 5-10 potions, elixirs and rare alchemical components along with their carefully scribed labels all in a pile at the base of the potion rack. The players know what they got, but not what is which and of course one of labels is the skull & crossbones symbol of poison.

Some rules expect there to be plenty of accessible "plus items". Which really makes it hard to maintain the mystic of magic. I recently read an excellent way to handle this. Items that simply provide a plus bonus aren't magical! They are instead legendary masterworks. This idea rocks so hard. It takes a boring, immersion sucking, game mechanic, the ubiquetious +1 sword and transforms it into cool ass flavor. "Whoa I recognize that makers mark. You hold a Santoya Blade forged at least 300 years ago in the golden age when Caliphs still ruled Spain." I guess you could keep them magical and do the same thing. But to me it "fits" better. +1 hit/dam seems like the effect of a master craftsman, somthing magical should be so much more...

Make Items Unique
When describing an item the characters have found describe that particular individual item. Describe in specifics, don't neglect sounds, tastes and smells the item possesses or generates. Depending on how magic & morality work in your world there might be other detectable emanations. "Before you is a 5' long smooth metal staff capped on one end by a large translucent bluish-white crystal. It crackles with arcane power as you grasp it." Not "Found a Staff of lighting, they are from 5-6 feet long and often have crystals incorporated in their construction."

Create and focus on one or two signature details. Not just "a crystal" but "a large translucent bluish-white crystal." Consider making items other than scrolls and potions literally unique. It's pretty awesome to know there is exactly one Helm of the Ancients and your character gots it.

If a player asks a leading question "What's in the crystal?" Never respond with "Nothing it's just a translucent bluish-white crystal." Instead, roll with it! "The multi-faceted crystal captures your attention. Within its depths the torchlight's feeble orange light is reflected and amplified into the purest white. You drift off into pleasant memories of moonlight sparkling off the frost white snows of your long missed homeland." Maybe that's too fluffy... but, you get the idea.

Getting your players accustomed to specific traits being associated with particular magics creates opportunities for atmosphere and immersion. For instance, from frequent past usage everyone knows that invisibility potions smell strongly of lemon. While in the Dungeon of Dark Despair the scout makes a detect hidden check. Instead of blurting out "There's an invisible bugbear behind you." lean forward, sniff the air and whisper "Something familiar, a smell you can't quite place. As it gets stronger, you know this smell. It's lemon! From behind you and quite close."

Use props. Hell yes! Encourage artistic players to draw, sculpt, or craft their items. Bring a gong for the player to bang on. Use a tarot deck for the Deck of Many Things. Play thunderous sound effects when the Javelin of Lighting strikes true. Change the ambient light level/color when Sting glows due to nearby orcs. Get a bull's horn and spend a day with your kids decorating it, then the paladin will remember being presented the Trumpet of Courage. Use food coloring colored water/juice in tiny bottles for potions (be sure to announce the option for players to only pretend they drank your icky concoction). I know one DM that uses flash powder for fire based effects. You'll have to decide with your players what level of this they will enjoy/tolerate :). Some might think its hokey and distracting others will love it. Just ask.

Keep Items Important
Once a player has the item, don't let them forget about it. Reinforce how rare, magical and amazing it is. Peasants, followers, and hanger-ons will beg to see it. Collectors will try to steal it. The characters will hear songs or read tomes that mention it. Perhaps the heir of the original owner believes it rightly belongs to them and takes their claim to the authorities. Does it need maintenance? Perhaps a magical fungus starts growing on it. "Brave sir Hadley what is that fuzzy brown stuff on your Holy Avenger?".

If they carry it on their person it should be in danger; of being broken, getting rained on, pick pocketed, drained of magic, dropped into a volcano. Players keeps it safely stored "at home"? The place should be broken into and ransacked but the item was fortunately not stolen, this time. Let them overhear how a great conflagration burnt down the characters home town. Make them fret over whether or not their hoard is so much melted junk. If it fits the character, encourage them to roleplay misplacing it for a few days "Oh, here it is, in my other robes."

Don't make every event negative. It shouldn't be a constant burden just to own a magic item. Positive encounters persist even longer in players' memories. An artist or sculptor might desire to see it, even pay for the privilege. Perhaps a great wizard asks to study it. Having a wizard owe you a favor should be worth something. Events involving the characters' magic items shouldn't come up every five minutes either. Occasionally when you need a plot pick up or if the players complain about there not being enough phat lootz.

Design of Items
When designing magic items consider leaving some details of function undecided and flexible. Outline a concept and leave the particulars to be determined as they are needed. Old-school fans will notice and praise how many items(and monsters) in OD&D follow just such a skeletal approach. Although, this will create difficulties in writing up items for blogs and gaming magazines, it generates opportunities for DMing. Great for plot hooks, moving the action forward, enhancing the mystery of magic, and so forth. Players come up with great ideas. You should always be prepared to steal them as your own. When they say "Wow, I bet it's [totally rad and yet not game breaking idea here]." calmly respond "Damn you guys are good! It is [totally rad and yet not game breaking idea here]."

I always try to equip the party with an item like this for use when party, plot or game stalls. You would like the players to be in Fooberg so they can meet the smokin hot warrior princess blah, blah, blah. But the characters are content to waste away in the pub where they are hailed as heroes and their tankards are never empty. Until one of them overhears a rumor that the lab notes of the wizard who created the item they've spent the last month trying to figure out can be found in the Fooberg Academy of Magic archives. Never mind that they haven't been able to figure out the item because you don't know what it does, the action is moving forward and action is good. (ok, I don't suggest that. But, I can't say it's never happened) If you're smart, you could plan all this stuff out in advance. But, I is dumb. So, I wing it.

I'm a firm believer that random and/or flaky magic is the best kind of magic. Combining being unique, vague, and flexible. Best of all, players tend to come up with great ways to (mis)use these items (see Mimi's Wand of Armor). Bags in which random things are found. Robes with similar pockets. Items that amplify or are keyed to what the character is thinking, a ring of weather control which creates weather based on the wearer's mood. Items that change effects based on phase of moon or how close they are to some other object/entity. When you exhaust the (random) Tables for Fables site try this google search.

Final Notes
sirlarkens mentioned the "It's Sort of Like a Wand" article from Dragon Magazine. Looking it up I'm damn sure that some 17 yrs ago this is the article that got me started. Garry Coppa where ever you are I owe you one. More recently I've gleamed sage advice from the most excellent Roleplaying Tips newsletter. Oh hey, look what they have done there.

I'd like the items accompanying this post to have more detail, but it's hard to flesh out in a vacuum. Using them today I'd weave more details into the fabric of my campaign world and possibly connect them to party members' history and knowledge. I'd like to end with an inspirational quote:

"Cause, remember: no matter where you go"... wait no, that's not the one

"Imagine the hell out of it!" Fuck yeah <horn sign>

Mimi's Wand of Armor

This wand will create a random suit of normal non-magical armor on its target. It only works on living targets. There is no indication as to what type of armor will be created.

About a cubit in length. Wrapped it's entire length in leather and at one end with thick wire such as used for making chain mail. When activated the strong odors of a tanning works or the scorched metal smells of forges will emanate from the wand and target, depending on the type of armor produced. This smell will spread far and linger a good while. In addition a loud clang of hammer on anvil will sound out for metal based armors.

If Mimi's wand is possessed by an antagonist their flunkies ought to be sporting a wild and varied array of protective outerwear.

Random Armor Chart (
- exotic material; dragon hide, mithril, ice, force, etc. Reroll for type.
3 - full plate
- split mail
5 - mail hauberk
6 - mail shirt
7 - scale mail
8 - cuir bouille
9 - barbaric hide
10 - laminar leather
- leather
12 - padded
13 - leather coat
14 - reinforced leather
15 - ring mail
16 - breastplate
17 - banded mail
18 - plate mail
19 - Maximilian plate
20 - exotic type; samurai suit, flack jacket, illusionary, etc.

Gameplay Notes: When a player tested this on his pet dog I decided that the wand creates armor that form fits the target whatever that might be. His little pooch got a nice suit of reinforced leather dog-barding. Later, a knight already in full-plate was galloping away instead of sticking around to be questioned by the party. The same player thought for a moment and tried Mimi's Wand on the knight. Since it was a novel and interesting way of dealing with the situation, I decided on the spot to extend the "fits its target" to include whatever the target was currently wearing. The knight had three suits of additional armor before his horse collapsed under the weight.

[Example magic item from Magic Items Should be Magical an article I submitted to Fudge Factor the sadly defunct e-zine for FUDGE.]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Links O' Plenty

I have, oh I don't know, about 3d4 * 100 RPG related links. Thought to put a selection of them in the sidebar but my two abridged blogrolls are already longer than Jörmungandr. (and yes I look at every post from the RPG reading list, tech not so much) Then I remembered every blog needs a reoccurring filler post and since Shatnerday, Manly Monday, and exhaustive rules analysis have been taken I'm fancying links! In truth links have been taken too, more than once. But instead of links of other blogs and recent activities these will be (mostly) oldish static resources.

I'm guessing we all know about The Acaeum detailing D&D products. This is the one I started with. It might be retrostalgic false memory but I remember staring at that cover (and the City of Brass on the DMG) and fantagasmining over how I could imagine a world and then "go" there and do stuff instead of just reading about what someone else did in a novel. Heady stuff for a 10yr old. Hmmmmm, this hobby is so kick ass.

RPG Search Engine, this search is just for Grognardia.

Dungeon Magazine interactive index. Nice options to limit by edition. Cause you know even if we claim to not participate the edition wars we all have a favorite.

If you can't find it in one of these indexes (Tholos, Dragondex) then it probably was never printed in Dragon Magazine.

Holy Fantastic Star Frontiers Fan Awesomavaganza! I bow unworthily and present The Star Frontiersman. That is how the D&D old school revolution should look. Star Frontiers was my first Sci-Fi RPG. I freakin loved the Ares section of Dragon Magazine, star cops! If I had more time I'd so start a Star Frontiers game, I'd make people play it.

ZeFRS forget old school when you can have crazy color chart school! I think Evil DM turned me onto this. And I normally would resist reposting but I adore alternative mechanics.

Hey it's the EFF of the RPG World. Free RPG Community "Our mission is to promote users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute roleplaying games by supporting free content roleplaying games."

Free RPG Manager, does stuff but I only want that map maker. I have a thing for mid-old school hex maps like from the Known World Gazetteer series. I wish author would release v2.0, or the source, or anything. I even donated some money to his paypal account. Just look at those screen shots, yum!

Talking about the Known World, there's more known than you might have imagined. Looks like we have a settings theme going on so lets link to this Birthright Netbook and the Fansite. Can't forget about HârnWorld, is the place for that. I never really knew about Arduin until reading oldschool blogs. I'll have to check out Arduin Eternal in detail.

3.5 D&D has so many rules. Luckily there are hypertext SRD's to help make sense of it all. What's this? How'd that ODD The Marches stuff get mixed in here? Well since that's there might as well as link to Philotomy's ODD Musings as well.

You're probably better off if you never click here. Remember I warned ya. Well that's enough for now, until next Woden's day then.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Granite Pilger, Dwarven Priest of Horm

Horm is holy
Horm is high
Horm is the Only
Now you die!
-- Horm's Prayer

[This character (NPC really) has been reimagined in several game systems; 1ed AD&D, Rolemaster, FUDGE(man rewriting this I miss how awesome the Fudge Ladder is for writing readable free form "stats"), and now basically rules free. But something I'd use with Castles & Crusades.]

Pilger, son of Gretchin, Granite Brother, 2nd Order priest of Horm the Mighty

Pilger is a weathered old Dwarf of 250 years who has devoted his life to the great, the mighty, the only, god of mining and mountains, Horm the Harsh. Pilger's beard betrays his age, although still mostly red, handsome white streaks are forming on either side of his mouth. Like all of Horm's Order, Pilger regularly shaves his head and braids his sideburns, finishing them with small silver carvings of Horm's Symbol and Pilger's ancestral crest. His typical dress includes his mountain plate & helm (see below). Often wrapped up in his red trimmed gray cloak which features a large Clan Granite's emblem worked in golden threaded on its back. This handsome covering is held fast by a platinum clasp from which leers an abstract dragon's head carved from a single large Spinal (red-brown gem). An ornament passed down from Durgin's great uncle. It is one of many ancestral heirlooms Pilger honors with use.

Being a respectable couple Pilger's parents had but one child. His father, Durgin, died in the Fourth War of the Deep while Pilger was a young initiate of Horm's Order. Pilger's mother, Gretchin, died of old age and sorrow a few years after her life mate's demise. Pilger's only current living ancestor is an ancient uncle, Galdur. Brother of Gretchin and so called priest of Durthang(god of Metal/Metalwork, a major Dwarf god), and "dead" to Pilger because of that. Pilger makes daily penance to Horm for his uncle's misguided skulduggery.

Amongst the Brothers of Clan Granite Pilger is the only chosen servant of Horm. To his unending consternation numerous pretenders to the mighty, high, and holy throne of Horm receive succor and support in the form of false priests within Clan Granite. Priests who undeservingly retain the clan's support despite Pilger's repeated long, rousing, drunken tirades during Festhall. After much brooding and casting of ancestor bones it has become obvious to Pilger that Horm wishes him to leave the clanhold. That he has chosen Pilger to spread Horm's holy might, kill Orcs, and seek adventure across the vast world from the uppermost peak of Tichen to the deepest Droogish mine. The entire clan assisted in preparations for his pilgrimage and enthusiastically bid him farewell...


Horm's holy symbol - Necklace composed of square hematite beads with a central bloodstone pendant carved into a mountain peak from which dangles a pick of pure platinum. This is the holy symbol bestowed to Pilger by Horm (in absentia) when he was ordained. It is not replaceable.

Small Adamantium chisel and Mithril hammer - For engraving Horm's Prayer and Pilger's ancestral crest everywhere.

Ancestor Bones - Various squares, triangles, and rounds carved from the bones of Pilger's ancestors. Used during prayers and when "Bone Casting" to seek the wisdom and power of Pilger's ancestors.

Glenda, Miner's Friend - Ancestral heirloom passed on by his father when Pilger left to join Horm's Order. A magical weapon & tool that transforms into one of three forms upon command. Silently "flowing" into the new shape it takes but a second to transform. In all forms Glenda appears to be plain, unadorned Mithril free of scratches or marks, which she is. As if fresh from the forge ready to be engraved, which she certainly is not. For one can find mention of The Miner's Friend in the Cavern of Deeds that was carved some 1600 years ago.

"langax" - a 7' long pole arm with opposing axe and hammer heads. It generally allows the wielder to strike first in combat.

"krieghammer" - a 4' war hammer with large double heads. Equally wonderful at crushing rock and skull of orc.

- 3' pick of the miner / mountain climber variety. A ring (for attaching rope) is set into its handle. With a robust swing behind it the pick head will pierce rock, stone, and even metal that lessor tools wouldn't scratch.

Heavy Crossbow, "The Icicle" - Constructed from strips of flat steel, bound to a stock shaped from the thighbone of an Frost Giant. Beautifully adorned with silver inlays and detailed carving depicting a glorious unnamed battle between Brothers of Clan Granite and marauding Frost Giants. If the main scene is to be believed the very same battle in which a Frost Giant gave up his leg to make this bow. Also featured are the huge icicles the giant brigands form from their breath and hurl as javelins. The cranking gear ratio on this bow is so high it takes minutes to draw. But the reward is a bow with the power to literally shatter doors.

60 x iron quarrels strong enough to withstand being fired by "The Icicle".

2 x spools and ample twine. One end of twine attached to a quarrel can be used to send a lead line across a chasm or up a cliff.

Pilger's steel mountain plate -
Under the guidance of Horm's Order Elders Pilger crafted by his own hand this armor in the Sacred Forge on the holiest of Horm's holy days. It is holy and magical. Gilded with gold & platinum. Engraved with scenes from Horm's greatest triumphs; Slaying a 100 orcs with a single axe swing, Drinking Gruld the Gluttonous under the table. Ejecting the fey emissary from The Divine Festhall landing her on her butt. Climbing unassalable Mt Tichen in a single day defeating Ice, Snow, Frost, & Glacier Giants, the Great Snow Serpent, and the Frost Witch of Tichen along the way...

Features include:
- Reinforcement, bracing and built-in harness for climbing.
- Several hard-points (metal rings, snaps, and threaded bars) facilitating the connection of ropes, cables and equipment.
- Chisel toed boots for jamming into crevices while climbing.
- Attachable crampons for use over ice, snow, and other treacherous ground.
- Removable padding made of fine wool and the warm inner hair of mountain yak.
- Klimbers: Devices that attach to the plate boots and are toe operated. When used with waist and chest hard-points allows the wearer to climb and have arms free. (see hand operated Klimbers below for details).
- Two small, hidden compartments one under the left arm and the other along the right calf are designed to hold a small number of gems and/or coins.

Gray yak leather backpack - Oiled to be water resistant. Contains pockets, fastining points, loops, etc. for all of Pilger's special mountaineering equipment. Attaches directly to the mountain plate. Pilger can disconnect from the pack in seconds via a quick release mechanism.

Steel helmet - Gilded and engraved to match the mountain plate. A triangular Bloodstone (grey with red flakes) 1" on a side is mounted on the helmets brow. Crossed above this are a platinum pick and golden hammer, a stylized version of Pilger's ancestral crest. Situated at the top front is a shuttered compartment suitable for a magical light stone or one of the more mundane cold-light substances that will not ruin Dwarven darkvision. This "lantern" can be adjusted from dim to full and from narrow-beam to flood.

Steel chain-mail - Warm weather armor, 70 deg F is hot to Pilger. Specifically constructed to be cooler than plate/plate-mail.

Gertrude a.k.a. "Gertie" a Mountain Yak
Max Load: Pilger has reached it, after loading his equipment and himself. Typically he walks alongside Gertie. After all, Horm admires those who carry their own weight. Gertie is not Born of Stone and will not pass into the ancestral realms. Pilger treats Gertie as he does his other valuable equipment, with respect and care so that they will serve him long and well. But, in the end, she is just a tool.

100' of 'Kord' - a 1/8" dia rope made by weaving the filaments of a special mineral. It is very strong and thin but not very flexible. It must be spliced and cannot be knotted. It is too thin to hold onto without the use of special hardware such as Klimbers. One end has a snap ring spliced to it. The other end is terminated with a butt splice. This is probably the second most valuable item Pilger carries after his mountain plate. (Horm's holy symbol and his ancestral heirlooms are irreplaceable and beyond value)

2 x hand operated Klimbers. Usable on Kord or rope up to ½" dia. They alternatively hold fast or let slide a rope that is inserted into them. When used with poor quality and/or twisted ropes they tend to jam, damage the rope, and lead to the death of operator.

4 x 1" dia steel rings attached to devices similar to Klimbers. Used with Kord to tie or pass rope through the rings, attach equipment to the rings or someone to the Kord.

8 x 9" steel spikes with 2" dia steel swivel rings attached to their thick ends.

2 x 3" single wheel brass and steel pulleys with snap rings. Usable with rope up to 1" dia. Kord is too thin and inflexible to use with these.

1 x 50' and 2 x 25' masterwork quality ½" braided rope. Each of the shorter lengths has a snap ring spliced on one end and a dead eye on the other.

Misc Equipment:
Cooking utensils, flint&steel, fire starter sticks. Cold and temperate weather cloths, in layers. Extreme cold mukluks, mittens and cloaks. Water skin filled with beer. 1 months supply of Dwarven Bars. Splicing tools for Kord and rope. Armor and weapon maintenance equipment. Shuttered lantern. 2 x iron flasks, filled with quality, slow burning, smokeless, odorless oil. Small collapsible spade. Small collapsible grapnel head.

Traveling money:
Pilger has access to a great amount of family wealth stored at Granite's Clanhold. But, it is an extremely disgraceful thing to take from instead of add to the ancestral vault. Even for an "investment". Dwarves have dim views on spending money to make money. A Dwarve wouldn't rent out their grandma for any amount of platinum. Similarly, they wouldn't part with their gems and coins for the chance to receive more in the future. Horm especially disdains commerce and "work". The proper method to obtain wealth is for it to be bestowed by him after lengthy and arduous labor mining and smelting ore or to reclaim the this bounty from thieving orcs, dragons, fey, and man.

These are high purity Dwarven coins. Dwarven face value given in parenthesis. They are worth more in many regions. Especially the "gem coins" which rarely pass into the hands of non-Dwarves.

5 x platinum coins highly engraved and set in the center with a precious stone (100gp)
20 x gold coins highly engraved and set in the center with a semi-precious stone (10gp)

The following are strung on stout cords in groups of 20 and referred by non-Dwarves as "Dwarven Necklaces."
40 x plat coins octagonal with round hole in the center (5gp)
40 x gold coins octagonal with round hole in the center (1gp)
40 x electrum coins octagonal with round hole in the center (.5gp)
40 x silver coins octagonal with round hole in the center (.2gp)
40 x copper coins octagonal with round hole in the center (.05gp)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Xmas means RPG sales

If anyone missed it Troll Lords is having a 12 days of xmas sale. But wait, one xmas sale is not enough, they're also having a different PDF 12 days of xmas sale.

I'm not associated with the Trolls, I just like their products and want to see them succeed. I also like Goodman Games and they are having their own sort of year end sale.

Darn it a while ago I read an RPG blog about a bunch of sales I was gonna link to it but now I can't find it. I read way too many blogs...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mighty Horm the Harsh

Horm is one of the many Dwarven gods claiming divinity over mining and mountains. Although, he is not one of the more prominent ones. In fact, it would not be unusual for a Dwarve to stare back blankly at mention of his name.

Horm is demanding, egotistical, vain, bombastic, and conceited. He rounds out these "qualities" by being militant, aggressive, and impulsive. Horm is a doer not a thinker. If his quick temper, ill-manners, or vain posturing gets him into more trouble than his hammer can deal with, Horm gets his bigger hammer.

Horm has not found many allies amongst the Dwarven pantheon or elsewhere. This weakness is compensated by having few if any enemies. In truth Horm is mostly just ignored. His followers, called Horm's Order, struggle under similar anonymity.

Horm's lack of followers provides him the opportunity to keep a close watch on each one. Priests especially must "keep in favor", something that with Horm is a great deal of effort. The game master should judge the player's actions or lack thereof through Horm's eyes when granting spells or other boons.

When there is no goddess to chase Horm relieves his boredom by meddling with his followers. He is more likely to "send" challenges for them to prove their worthiness than heal their wounds or banish skeletons they should be crushing themselves. On the other hand, if a trixie fey steals one of his priests' gold, he's likely bestow unlimited endurance, unerring direction sense, and once tracked back to it's mushroom ring or whatever show up in person to smote the cheating Elf himself.

Horm prefers to be worshiped in deep mines or atop lofty mountains but will accept any prayer offered under a sensible roof, that is one made of stone or rock. Suitable sacrifices to his greatness include the smelting of ores, uncut gems, snow from high, remote, sacred mountain peaks, and well fashioned(masterwork) mining equipment. The more valuable, rare, or famous the sacrifice the greater is Horm's appreciation. Twice over is his pleasure if arranging the sacrifice was arduous, challenging, and legend worthy, esp if feats mentioning Horm are recorded in the Sacred Cavern of Deeds. Horm relentlessly demands that Horm's Prayer be carved onto mountains, mine entrances, other god's temples, any and all stone surfaces actually.

Horm admires; most Dwarven goddesses, combat, exploring the unknown, determination, self reliance, and feats of endurance.

He dislikes; most Dwarven gods, skulduggery, orcs, despoilers of mountains(i.e. non-Dwarves), weather, and the "great outdoors".

Symbols; vertically aligned pick superimposed on a mountain peak. Granite gray is the color most associated with him.

Holy Days; All of them, really. Everyday is a great day to honor Horm and his might. There is not a day on the calender that lacks an anniversary worthy of praise. A typical service involves a single solitary priest performing the ritual carving of "Horm's Prayer", recounting the great feats Horm performed on that day, and perhaps a sacrifice if there one worthy of Horm is available. Throughout the rest of the day, a priest is expected to remind all he meets of Horm's mighty accomplishments and unchallenged greatness. The holiest of holy days only comes every 100 years during which initiates to Horm's Order are made priests.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Metal & RPGs

From now on I'll be using this as the theme song and baseline of cool for DMing combats. If they aren't at least as awesome as this video, then I'm doing it wrong.

"Fire, Battle, in Metal!"

Dream Evil bangs my head! Metal in general is full of inspirational fantasy flavor. Leather, spikes, black without tedious goth/WoDlings angst, cöpiöus ümlauts, dark sorcery, biting heads off of bats. Tötally made for fantasy RPG's. I don't mean sissified "epic" hero schlock. I'm talking old school delve a dungeon, meet new species, take their stuff and squander it wenching & boozing.

Yeah, so to prove my point here's a silly Metal inspired random encounter table I put together in some minutes. And I'm not even that much of a metal head, I grew up with 80's new wave and hard core punk.

What secret sources fuel your imagination?

Metal Encounter Table (1d10)
1 Ancient Warriors - 1d3 rise from the fog machine effect that constantly surrounds them.
2 The Bitch Lord - a bit obscure, but there's a whole campaign in that ass rockin song.
3 Children of the Grave - zombie 5yr olds? Hmmmm, finally get to use this combat resolution system.
4 Children of the Sabbath - what's worse than zombie rugrats? Kid Kultists is what!
5 Faries, in boots of course.
6 Mobs Rule - All your Feats and Powers and nothing to deal with 6d6x100 angry peasants, eh mr. 4ed?
7 Soul trapped in an iron golem. - Ack! Eberron already ripped off this song.
8 War Pigs - this but with bloody tusked boars. Yeah, yeah! Tell me that ain't rad.
9 Without warning a Wizard walks by. Casting his shadow, weaving his spell. Long grey cloak, twinkling bell. Never talking, just keeps walking. So fucking awesome.
10 A Force of Dragons - Just so the youngins know wtf we're talkin bout.

First Post!

After spending a couple hours setting up this blog I actually have to post something? What a scam.

Remember "First Post! Wars" on slashdot? Before Hot Grits Down Pants and Nekkid Petrified Natalie Portmans were things <- (what they were before hipsters hiply named them meme's). Back when Beowolf Clusters were the new hotness Linux Nerds could use to impress their gir... each other. I do, I'm old, I've seen a lot. Not everything, but enough. I might post about it.

Oh, what's this blog about? Stuff Norm likes. That probably means mostly Tabletop Role Playing Games and Tech / Software Development. I'm sure to stray cause there's just too much I like. Which sucks for my mythical readers since no one likes the all same stuff I do. Maybe these Tag things will help.

I'm prone to depression, cynicism, flaming, trolling, and ranting. Although, for this blog I'll try hard to let my inner norm rule. The inner norm is acceptably approximated by this totally posted without permission sinfest

Understand that inner norm or not and even if my posts are 1/10th as awesome as Jeff Rients' or the Evil DM's this blog will never be able to hold a candle to Monkey Sword Fight.

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