Sunday, January 11, 2009

Awesomeist Cake Evar

Couldn't resist posting this quicky link to geekologie blog of the awesomeist cake evar! Clicky for more better images.

How could you eat such a beauty?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Do you hide the fact you play RPG's?

News article that gets under my skin. The condescending tone is irksome but what really pisses me off is people believing they have to hide their hobby from society at large. That's bullshit.

Recently, Jan/Dec, (sorry can't find post) one of the many rpg blogs I read posted on this subject. Many agreed that they would not admit they played RPGs in "polite" company. Many excuses were given, some valid. But ya know what? Unless you come out as a gamer the stereotype and societies ignorance and disdain for our hobby will endure.

Do you enjoy hiding an important part of who you are? Slinking around the internet with pseudonyms always fearful a coworker or friend might discover your "shameful" secret. Personally I couldn't stand it. I've never been "normal" and as a young teenager lost any ambition to fit in or interest in conforming to societies mores. So, my entire life I've always expressed who I am and felt if society doesn't like it then too fucking bad. It's not my responsibility to change or hide who I am. It's society that needs to adapt.

Others have taken different routes and now find themselves with impediments built up all around them. Worry that boss will judge their hobby. Fear friends will laugh at them for playing "child's games". Need to be polite to inlaws even though they're religious nutjobs who would scream Satanist at the mention of D&D. Etc.

I understand. You can't just put on your umber hulk costume and jump out of the closet one day. You aren't free like me to just say "fuck em". It's very hard and worrisome to make that first move. But I implore you to try. It will make the world a better place for everyone.

Friday, January 9, 2009

On Vacation

I conned my boss into letting me go for two weeks and one day. Probably won't be many posts until late January.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Links O' Maps

Oh giditty git, I loves me some maps. "Atlas" was my favorite book type as a kid. They were bigger than any other book in our house and smelled musty and old(from disuse my elder siblings weren't quit the nerd I am). The textures, the smells set my imagination leaping. Inside was filled with strange drawings, exotic names and fantasies yet to be dreamed. I was manifestly disappointed to find out the "Viking World Atlas" had nothing to do with axe wielding warriors in longships.

Antique maps are very awesome. Simply as works of art they kick ass. But it don't end there. This one of Iceland could be used straight up as a campaign map or player handout.

What's at the poles of your world? Perhaps this? The unknown lands far west across the endless sea. Black and white style map of Africa circa 1540.

Ancient map of Fairyland, a perspective drawing/map chock full of flavor. Perfect place for the other side of that magic mirror. That interface needs one more level of zoom though.

Hexmapper Haven cause old-school is the cool school. Oh, I so wish rpgmanager hexmapper program v2 would get completed/released. I offer up my first born, second born, all the fruits of my loins. Sorry, I'm keeping my dog.

Many tactical maps, more, similar that are gridded with 1" squares for use with miniatures.

These are also perfect for use with virtual desktop software for gaming online. Such as the most excellent MapTool.

Maps of Hyboria for all your savage barbaric needs.

Need a bit of terrain? Ever wonder what a map of the area you live would look like? Check out US Topo maps. I based my first campaign on topo maps of Norway.

Totally rad map of natural cave formations and the processes that form them. In fact it's so rad I'm embedding it below. Just one of the rockin results of searching the Google for Lechuguilla Cave Map. A huge cave complex that has been extensively mapped. You can buy a physical map of the similar Jewel Cave.

There's no more awesomer ending than that to this installment of the semi-thematic link blog series posted every Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Campaigns I've Dreamed Of.

Here are some very raw notes jotted down in my "campaign thoughtpile". None of these have caught my imagination enough for me to develop, yet.

Stone Age Apocalypse - Bio-engineered "neutron" bacteria was suppose to destroy equipment/weapons. Ends up eating all refined metals and most ores.
* Chaos, but the wars continue for awhile.
* Humanity left in stone age but with otherwise modern science/education/tech.

The Gods Themselves - Any sufficiently advanced tech == Magic. Characters are sci-fi race on primitive world. They have set themselves up as gods. I've played many hours of this.

The Grind - Sleeper colony ship with crew in "suspended animation" but their minds are playing ship wide MMORPG (required to avoid insanity while suspended for centuries). They never wake up and are stuck in MMORPG. Characters/Players must figure out that they are in virtual world and somehow escape to reality. MMORPG things like guilds, racial homelands, safe areas, pvp between factions.

The Grind v2.0 - Follow on game to MMORPG Grind. Characters manage to turn off game but fail to awake. Problems arise and the ship never arrives at destination and crew is not thawed from "suspended animation". Thousands years later a few people(players) thaw. Most others are dead. On truly gigantic ship, should be sessions before they figure out it is a ship. Everyone has cyroamesia and some mental disease (manic-depressive, delusions, catatonic-narcolepsy, split-personality). Stereotype mental illnesses, not a game on psychiatry. All sorts of aliens, robots, AI's, evolved things (cat from Red Dwarf), degenerate crew members, etc are roaming around ship for players to find.

- Highlander / Dark Crystal kind of thing. Powerful heroes are created in duplicate one "black" one "white". The players are one or the other and must find & unite or avoid union with their other half.

Wizard's Lab
Mutantworld/Gammaworld fantasy setting. If I had time/energy and players I'd totally use LL/MF to run this one.
* Huge sprawling underground lab The Wizard used to conduct countless bizarre and arcane experiments. Summoning, construction, morphing, mutating, breeding all sorts of things.
* The Wizard is gone now and his creations have run amok.
* Wizard's experiments provide mutations and lots of devices to mess with and get hurt by.
* Golems as robots

Fantasy Rails Based loosely on Iron Dragon and greatly inspired by a game I played in at the Seattle Game Con. I was really excited about this one until Eberron & everyone else did steampunk.

Steampunk tech, powerful but semi-rare magic. Powerfull wizards, items, dragons, mystical and fantastic creatures. Only five wizards around, 1 known dragon, rare to even see magic.

Players operate a train, hauling cargo, taking odd jobs, slowly building up their train's capabilities and power. If "Firefly" was cowboys in space this is Firefly on a train in steampunk fantasy land.
* Start with used simple engine, used simple caboose, and funds to customize/buy some rolling stock.
* Alternative characters have to take jobs as crew/guards until they save enough to purchase their first engine.

Adventure Hooks
* train race, long long distance with specific deliveries
* deliver valuable cargo
* deliver mundane cargo but has secret hidden cargo and several factions want it
* deliver circus full of mystical beasts with challenging requirements and they totally escape along the way
* patrol border / area with monsters, bandits, etc for local authority
* train refit/upgrade vacation
* train stolen! must pursue and take back
* support/protect train crew expanding track

* Ye olde train robbery
* railblock and bandits with toll demand
* missing track, repair crew, bandits, bridge out
* track goes into magical mist/portal
* bridge flooded out, lava!
* rampaging beasts up ahead over track
* train from behind law/noble/wizard demands right of way
* head on train but single track
* giant picking up and looping tracks turning train around back the way it came
* unexpected switch sends train wrong way
* gypsy/bandit/pilgrim/crusader/humanoid camp along tracks
* fire forest,brush,plains up ahead either side of tracks
* dead animal on tracks. trap or not?
* car detaches
* weather screws with boiler / makes track slippery

Cyberpunk with technology replaced by magic.
* life is cheap
* haves (those who can use magic) and have nots (the other 99%)
* most aren't better off despite all the magic that is available
* super high level Magi and their vast retinues replace corporations
* failing kingdoms == failing nation states
* cyberspace == dream/spirit world (pushing metaphor?)
* Practitioners == net jockeys. Can manipulate magic but not create it. Only Magi can create magic.
* Magi almost never interact directly too much risk of permanent damage. Instead the manipulate world through their apprentices, practitioners, monsters, cults, kingdoms, etc.
* One "corporation" is a group of weaker Magi that have banded together. They are not nearly as strong as the Magi but in a way they are stronger cause they can risk a real Magus to achieve their goals. They are willing to and have sacrificed members to compete against other Magi.
* Magi compete over leylines/arcane research/having most slaves/lives/mana.
* Lots and lots of relatively cheap magic devices the masses "slave" in Magi mines/farms/"factories" to obtain.

In the following days I'll blog about a couple campaign settings with enough content for their own post "Hacksalot" and "Fleet" and two campaigns I've actually run, "BuffyPunk", and "Dirt".

Image credits: fantasy rail, magipunk, wizard's lab

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Seven Days, Seven Blades of Luck - The Sword of Rotten Luck

Nondescript in every way. This sword is common, plain, boring. It is likely to be picked up, stuffed in a backpack and forgotten. Any description is meaningless as it can change form and besides talking about the sword is nearly impossible (see below).

The owner of this sword has rotten luck. Chamber pots will be emptied on their head, it will rain when they travel, their horse will throw a shoe, ships they are passengers on will wreck in storms, important possessions will get lost or stolen, taverns they visit burn down, and so on. This rotten luck is chronic but with a very definite limit. The owner will not die, nor will they starve, suffer grievous injury, or come to any permanent ill. The sword prevents mortal or maiming harm from any source befalling its owner. However, it will accomplish this miraculous feat in the absolutely most rotten way possible. This protection does not extend to the owners companions or innocent bystanders but the owners rotten luck does.

In addition, the desires and goals of the owner will generally be fulfilled if they aren't in conflict with the sword's nature of protection and rotten luck. For example if the owner desires to reach the capital they'll be captured as galley slaves, shipwrecked, suffer various hardships on Isle of Madness, get teleported into a battlefield and finally be thrown in the capital's dungeon as spies.

As part of preventing harm and providing rotten luck the sword will not allow itself to be given away or abandoned. It will, somehow, quickly arrive back into its owner's life. It might be possible to destroy this sword. But the consequences of unmaking such a powerful artifact are troubling to consider.

This god-forged weapon is virtually unknown. Part of its protective power prevents knowledge of its existence from spreading. The sword's appearance is whatever it needs to be at the moment. It can shape change at will, even into seemingly sentient beings and can disappear entirely. It is omniscient, omnipotent and can work as subtly or as directly as required. It is in a very real sense the DM.

[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.]

Friday, January 2, 2009

Seven Days, Seven Blades of Luck - Equilibrium

This sword was created when a dark haired barbarian prayed to his god "It is a good day to die, Crom, but grant me one request. Grant me revenge! Let me bring my foes along to the afterlife. And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!"

Equilibrium is heavy and larger than the typical broadsword. Its practical leather wrapped hilt and plain iron cross-guard belie its magical nature. So does it's normal looking steel blade which appears to be above average quality albeit well used, sporting several nicks along its length. A nice, big barbarian sword. Nothing spectacular. That it never dulls is a clue that it's no common orc stabber. Another is if the nicks are ground out they will reappear exactly as before after a few hours. Additionally the leather grip will never rot. In fact until the world splits and the gods die Equilibrium will remain exactly as it was them moment Crom granted that request.

[Original FUDGE rules] Every attack roll the wielder may flip any number of their dice to +1. The DM keeps a running total of the dice so flipped by Crom's blessing. For his boons must be paid back. The DM may spend these "flips" as modifiers against the wielder of this sword. Any contested roll, not just combat, is eligible for these modifiers. If it "is a good day to die" and Equilibrium's wielder has enough "debt" the GM is encouraged to use all of it for a grand climatic death scene.

Damn FUDGE and it's flexibility! Without thinking too hard on it. For d20ish games I'd let the player swinging Equilibrium to add as many +5's as they want to their attack. After the roll but before the results (hit/miss) are announced. As DM keep track of these adding 1 to Equilibrium's "balance" for each use. It's best to keep the balance close to zero say in a range of +5 to -5. Reducing the balance by 1 means the DM gets to apply a (secret) -5 penalty to one of the players rolls; saves, skill checks, to hit rolls. This is a situation where Castles & Crusade's universal d20 mechanic pays off.

Hmmmm, this sword is definitely not for everyone. It takes a certain kind of player to not whine like a bitch when all that remains of their character is a bloody mist after whilly nilly overusing bonuses from this "uber" sword without a thought as to the consequences. Then again this might be just the item to make such a player go away.

P.S. Equlibirium (the movie) kicks ass.

[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.]

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Conan the Barbarian

Is a fucking great movie. It is awesome pulp fantasy.

Movies are the sum of many parts; music, costuming, writing, art direction, cinematography, sound design, location scouting/set construction, physical performance, fight choreography, stunts, special effects, editing. One or a few of those being bad don't condemn a movie. If you say CtB has shitty acting I don't agree(it's not good for sure) still I can accept that's your opinion and it's valid. But if you say CtB is a horrible piece of crap solely or primarily because it has shitty acting my response is that you're a shallow twit.

Note how accuracy to source material isn't even on the movie parts list. Cause accuracy to source material doesn't matter one whit to the art and appreciation of movie making. It's a creation of academics and fans so they can show others how very knowlegable they are. I don't give a flying fuck if CtB portrays Conan the Cimmerian "correctly"(whoever gets to decide that? Oh, it's you, self-appointed fantard), follows the plot of any story written by Robert E. Howard, or even if it has the "spirit" or "style" of the Conan yarns. No ZOMG! his hair isn't black! Look it says right here on page one! "He ran his fingers through his streaming black mane" If I want Conan as R.E.H. envisioned him I go read R.E.H. It's completely fucking stupid to expect a different art form with the creative input of dozens to be an exact copy of what you perceive the source material to be.

I can't fathom how someone's opinion of a movie depends on its title and name of main character? If your argument against CtB depends on it being called "Conan the Barbarian" vs "Rogar the Barbarian", you're way too much of a pretentious anal fanboi. And I bet if it had been named the latter you'd be whining about how the writers of RtB ripped off Conan

Conan the Barbarian would be just another ok fantasy action flick except for Basil Poledouris. His blood pumping, soul stirring score elevates CtB to awesomehood. Battle of the Mounds fucking rules, I literally can't stay still and seated when I listen to it. Star Wars is another movie that wouldn't be nearly as great without its excellent score.

Regarding pulp fantasy: ancient snake-god, snake cult, orgy, cannibals complete with giant pot of body part ghoulash, black lotus, thievery, debauchery, brutal & bloody, few against many, fast-paced and action rich. How can you not see it?

Quit putting your expectations onto something and then bitching when it doesn't meet them. Enjoy things for what they are and in return get more enjoyment out of life.

Contemplate this on the Tree of Woe.

Seven Days, Seven Blades of Luck - Loki's Luck

The sax, Loki's Luck, is strongly magical. This is obvious even without special skill or arcane detection. Mystical runes, symbols of good luck and fortune, pulsate orange and yellow along the back of its blade. Forged from an unknown iridescent metal that's been folded and hammered hundreds of times. It has no cross-guard and lacking any pommel it would seem to easily slip out of one's grasp.

[Original FUDGE rules] Once per attack roll the wielder may flip a -1 to +1. If a natural +4 is ever rolled with this weapon convert it to a -4. After the -4 results are applied the sword vanishes with a audible chuckle. Only to reappear in some treasure trove awaiting its next victim.

Another one that is hard to convert from the flexible dF roll. Having Loki convert your natural 20 into a natural 1 before laughing at you and taking his sax back sounds about right. Although, dF +4 has only a 1.235% chance and the 20 has 5%. So, maybe secretly roll a d4 and the player only suffers Loki's notice on a 1. That sounds better than taking away their "critical" every time.

The convert dF -1 to dF +1 mechanic is much harder. There's only one die rolled in d20, and it's not a bell curve. And changing either of those is radicaly changing d20 mechanics. Maybe something like if weilder rolls between 5-10 they can roll a d10 and add that to result. Too complex but I can't think of anything else. Other than give up and play FUDGE :)

[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.]

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