Saturday, May 30, 2009

Intent Confusion

What to post about tonight? I could do another "In My Campaign" type post. I have another one brewing about Kusseth. Hell, I have another thirty or forty about Kusseth. Its the country with the most work done on it, everything else is sort of half-finished. I have the core ideas and main cities and whatnot, the form of government, etc. The main points are done, but everything else is left vague. So much is done on Kusseth because my Traith character is a warden of that city (37th District) and because I anticipate it to be the place the PCs set up. Josh wants to become a pirate, but you quite literally have to cross the entire continent (which is about the size of the United States) to get to the pirate nation of Haven. Or you could sail, but to be honest that wouldn't work. You wander into the ocean near Haven without flying the proper flags, you get sunk real quick. If Josh gets his way and the group does go to Haven the only way I can envision them getting in is as slaves and maybe doing a whole pit fighter fight for your freedom type thing.

Plus, their only options are to walk through a few hundred miles of stumpie (Kusseth slang for dwarves) infested mountains or to cross a desert. Although, if they do cross the mountains I have the intention of somehow getting them near a ventilation shaft for the dwarven kingdoms and possibly some heavy explosives and letting them decide whether to suffocate a city or not. It wouldn't be the first city of dwarves they committed genocide upon. If they make it through the mountains they run smack dab into Volungsheim on the eastern edge of Whurent (the dwarven kingdom). Volung was a berserk from my Norse serialized story. He had magic axes and was crazy. After the events of my Norse story he wandered over to Alfheim (which will eventually be retconned into being less Norse Myth and more Clint Myth) and grabbed up the rest of the Ljosalves and Maggot (another character from the same story, but he's a Dvergar which is a dwarf) and they wandered south in boats for many days and nights and found my little continent and started killing whatever they could lay hands on. Anyway, they're black-eyed elves and they are angry and love a good fight. So in closing, getting to Haven will be no easy task. Josh, if you are reading this: Haha!

Hmm. Actually it could be really fucking easy, I'm just an idiot and didn't think of it till now. So here is a hint Josh. The race of elves living in Volungsheim are called the Children of Volung and they are allied with the dwarves. But there is only one elf of that race who is actually a trueblooded son of Volung. His mom "knew" Volung in the Biblical sense. He also calls Cenn the Reaver uncle, but that is not a blood relation because Cenn is not an elf. Well, ok, he's closer to being an elf than anything else, but he's not. Anyway, find him (the actual child of Volung), befriend him, don't piss him off, and he is your ticket to a trip through Whurent and Volungsheim that does not include the normal amount of bodily fluid spillage associated with such a trek through hostile territory.

I just really wish people would tell me what they want out of the campaign. Its pretty open ended, I've basically created a large scale sandbox with plenty to do in it and I'd like them to make a conscious decision on what they want to do. In sixth grade a piece of paper with bare bones monster stats and no room numbers or map was enough, but not anymore. Its boring. I like there to be descriptions that help me see them creeping through musty hallways tentatively raising swords as they open doorways and whatnot. I'm really optimistic about this campaign and people's interest in it. Apparently Josh and Jeff have discussed it on multiple occasions, which is kind of neat. Seriously. To know my campaign world is a topic of discussion at a non-gaming gathering that I am not present at is kind of awesome. As I said, I'd like it if people would tell me what they want to do. They haven't seen the map yet so they don't know much about the shape of the world, but even saying stuff like "I want to kill monsters." would give me an idea. I can keep making scenarios in the world but really without their input it is basically me railroading them and going "hehe, look what I put here" and as much as I like to hear myself talk, that gets old pretty quick.

I dunno. I guess I don't want to be in the midst of a scenario and have them go off on a tangent and have to either A) say fuck no to their choices or B) sacrifice the rest of the scenario to the random chance that they would do something I haven't planned for. Part of it is also that I cannot think well on my feet for creative things like this, and I want everyone to have a good experience when we game. I am a creative guy, but it takes work. I don't just sit down and let the creativity spew forth. For every thousand words I type or write I do a fair bit of hmmm-ing and key poking and cursor staring.

Ah yes, cursor staring, my old friend, how I loathe you. Go fuck yourself.

I am now officially talking to blinking cursors in Word documents. Goodnight.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

In My Campaign: New Empire Edition, Part 1

The fearful denizens of the New Empire are known for two things above all others: bigotry and fear. These two tenets of their society are most idealized among the sadistic members of that cruel society called the witch hunters. For centuries these misguided fanatics have pursued an agenda of hatred and murder not only among enemies of the state but against the very citizens their order supposedly exists to protect. The witch hunters are almost as feared by the populace of the New Empire as the fiendish wielders of arcane power they supposedly hunter. When the men of the not yet Fallen Empire were cursed with undeath and were re-discovered by a new exploratory force from the Old Empire relations between the two nations were strained but there was peace and cooperation. That is until those men and women who would eventually form the infant witch hunter organization launched a series of bloody pogroms against the unsuspecting people of the Fallen Empire. Once spurned, the nation embraced their separation from the Old Empire and launched their own raids against the New Empire and the unending hatred and legacy of violence between the two nations was assured.

The witch hunters believe that the ideals of the Old Empire, those of a reliance on the mind and body and not external forces such as magic, are the only way for humanity to prosper. For the human race to prosper the unnatural forces of magic should be eradicated from the world, and this includes races such as the Fallen, Fell-Humans, and the elves who possess innate powers and abilities that in some way rely upon arcane forces built into their very souls. Though whether undead and demonically altered humans truly possess souls is a matter of debate among the more scholarly spects of the witch hunter organization.

The witch hunters are so powerful that the masters of that shadowed organization have been known to go directly against the will of King Rudolph II. In fact, the organization has been known to dispense propaganda denigrating the king and his practice of enslaving those who can channel arcane forces and binding them to his will. This practice allows him to control them and feed the power of his mind, which has been enhanced by his Elduman bloodline, through them while they do his bidding in the far corners of his empire.

Current gossip in the New Empire is that the witch hunters are on a collision course with King Rudolph II and that someday one will be forced to drag the other down. Should this occur and Rudolph be ousted from his throne the power of the witch hunters would be unstoppable within the New Empire. They would quickly seize power and lock down the nation, their control likely spreading into the Plains of Dust. With an entire nation under their stewardship and another as a staunch ally the witch hunters would have little trouble pitting the full weight of the armed forces under their control against the Fallen Empire of Man and re-opening the fresly scabbed over wound that is the Fallen Empire/New Empire border. Which nation would best the other in such a conflict is a topic of much speculation and such a war would further tear apart the eastern edge of the Known World.

A Good Day

Such a thing does not necessarily necessitate the crushing of foes, hearing the lamentation of their women, or the driving of them before oneself.

Eric and I were talking today and he was kind of venting about a player we have who he is having an issue with in his campaign. Eric's intent is that all priestly types (Clerics and Paladins specifically, but likely Invokers and Avengers as well) be Good Guys and act as Beacons of Hope and Kindness. Not blundering buffoons bent on setting off traps and breaking items that could be pocketed. (Just a note, my dude is made of metal and has even more metal welded to his body for the purposes of armor, and he did less blundering than John's Cleric named John. Not really a criticism, I just like to say my dude is metal...he is also robust due to how much metal he is made of.) Anyway, he was basically just going to tell us that Cleric and Pallies = Good and John better shape up. My suggestion was that since his world had achieved a Golden Age of Peace and Prosperity before it was struck by meteors, he should say that part of the reason for the aforementioned Age was that the good gods had defeated the evil ones and the primordials, thus there are no evil or wishy washy aligned deities to pray to, so by definition there are only Good Guy Clerics. Now John has to comply, and there is solid logic behind that, not just an arbitrary "Do it and shut up." Plus, this opens up the idea of evil, lurking, cultists of the vanquished primordials and deities in the world for us to do our own vanquishing on. Anyway, I came up with that whole bit quite literally in less time than it takes to type it and I kind of impressed myself with it and told Eric that it is times like this that remind me that I am indeed a bit skilled at DMing and world building and whatnot and can usually produce halfway decent product. He agreed. Normally I kind of choke on my own fear and insecurity that I'm just shovelling horseshit and no one is entertained and I kind of revert to half-assing it and not caring. It was nice to feel a warm glowy moment and bask in the meager success of my meager skills, and it was fun to help Eric stick it to John a bit.

I think I've kind of decided my warforged fighter (Junkpile) will be an agent of chaos. He's not intentionally evil or anything, but he is mostly concerned with self-repair, money, and staving off ennui. He's also curious. He doesn't understand "meatbags" (thus the intentionally low Charisma, and if you place the reference and you get an XP) and if he sees something interesting he is going to investigate. Which is the whole reason we got the "go to the mine" quest anyways. He didn't want to help the guy getting the shit beat out of him, he assumed the guy earned it, but was curious as to why five dudes would forcibly drag another man out of a drinking hole in broad daylight and impart violent kinetic force upon his body. He also eats gems.

Steampunk Device of Post: Short-Range Hard Illuminator. Its a flashbang grenade.
Music: Hatredcopter - Dethklok

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Change of Pace

Whoa. This will not be DnD or writing related. I seem to be going on at great length about those two topics lately, which makes sense as they are my Big Thing(s) right now. Anyway, I decided I wanted to ramble about Planescape: Torment. Well, I guess this post will have to be DnD related because Torment is a DnD game. Anyway, we'll see where this takes us and work on the labels when we're done. Torment is hands down my favorite computer game in the whole wide world. It tops Fallout and Oblivion and Disgaea. Heck. If Fallout fucked Disgaea and their gay child had a civil union with Oblivion and they adopted an at risk Chinese girl, she would not hold a candle to the gloriousness that is Torment. (This bit functions under the assumption that your environment and role models play a big part in the quality of person you become). Torment is an older PC game, can't remember specific year it came out but it was around the time of the original Fallouts and Baldur's Gates and Icewind Dale. Granted, I enjoy all of those games and they are all in some way connected to Interplay and/or Black Isle, but Torment is King.

In Torment you play an undying amnesiac with skin about the thickness of a concrete block due to the mass of scars you've become in your time wandering the planes. You wake up in a mortuary, or rather THE Mortuary of Sigil (center of the effing Multiverse). You're Clueless, and your only companions (so far) are the cryptic messages etched into your flesh and a floating skull with a mouth fouler than Satan's asshole after playing the catcher in his own civil union.

Hmm, in retrospect that may have crossed a line. Lets move along.

My love of the game comes from the fact that like the setting it is based in, your actions, your very thoughts and words, can reshape the planes to your liking. If you give yourself a name for people to call you by, a man by that name (created by your will and the speaking of the name by others) becomes real and you find him and can unmake him with your will, or you can allow him to forge his own path in the Multiverse.

The entire point of the game is to define who you are, to figure out what determines the nature of a man. And also to track down your errant soul and possibly figure out who the fuck is trying to kill you and why. Granted, killing you is a minimal impediment to the quest at best, but the story goes that the more often you die the more fragile your memories become, thus your current state of being a clueless sod.

Don't worry though, you can eventually become a cutter whose very steps shake the planes.

Part of the appeal of the game is that a large portion of it can be completed just by talking. You can gain thousands of valuable XPs just by discussing shit with your companions (the talking skull, a puritan succubus, a man who has become a living portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire, a planar robot on a quest to find individuality, a suit of armor animated by the ideals of justice and vengeance, a half-fiend that hates you as much as she loves you, and Dak'kon who is hard to break down into half a sentence). In fact, the final boss of the game can be defeated through a combination of will (i.e. high Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma scores) and astute dialogue choices. I have never seen that in any game I've played. There are modern games that allow you to "talk" your way out of shit, but I've always had to put a round between the eyes of the Big Fucking Evil Dude in the last room.

Along the way to the story's multi-ending conclusion you encounter a variety of insane locations and the denizens therein. You find a rat king so large and so powerful its very thoughts can assault you with violence. You help a living city give birth. You can ensure the eternal survival of a city long destroyed. You parley with a golem the size of a building trapped in a war machine of entropy bent on breaking the bonds of the Multiverse. On and on and on.

So yeah, that is a bit about Torment. To be clear, it is the barest tip of the iceberg.

Hmm...cue installation process.

Music: Nictotine Stains - Siouxsie and the Banshees

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


You ever listen to 2112 by Rush? Its one of my favorite Rush songs. A man in the far flung future finds a guitar and falls in love with the music it produces while learning to play it. He brings it to the rulers of the galaxy/universe (the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx) who determine what art and music is allowed to exist. They scorn the guitar as a stupid relic of "the Elder Race of Man" and tell him the guitar will not be allowed to exist. So he flees the priests and finds his way to a cave and has a dream of beauty and wonder and upon waking he kills himself because he cannot bear to exist in a universe that denies the beauty of the music wrung from the strings of a guitar and wishes to move onto the world in his dreams.

At least I think that is what it is about, regardless: Good fuck song.

Anyway, there is a line in the song about the Elder Race of Man. This line inspired me to write, and always makes me think of, a story I was working on a long time ago called The Elder War. I always think I should go back to that one because it ties a bunch of random elements from some of my other stories together so that as a whole they make sense. I can just never really get into writing it. I like it, and it is actually something of a twist on the first story I ever wrote. A POS called Cernunnos' Story that was a godawful story and a worse DnD campaign, or maybe vice versa. If you're reading this and remember the time where it was like ten players and two DMs and we were all in my parent's garage and Jason Julian was all like "Kinouis the Vengeful does not care for this!" and slammed his fist into the table, it was set in that campaign world. Kardia if I remember correctly. Anyway, Cernunnos' Story was truly atrocious, every name and character in it was named after and ripped off of something I had read and liked at one time. There was a lightning god named Raiden, a sorcerer named Thorn Drumheller (if you've read the follow up books to Willow), a city named Rome, magic fields called mythals (if you know anything about Forgotten Realms elves), and so on and so forth in that vein for some time. I tried to rewrite the story later and quit because I realized I was copying Robert Jordan's magic system. Anyway, the Elder War was in part a spiritual re-telling of Cernunnos' Story (and the main character of the Elder War was one Kern Yew'nos, har har).

Hmm. I seem to have lost track of the point of this particular post, but it is a quarter to four in the morning so I think that is forgivible.

Anyway. I think I'm going to start posting my Norse Story up to this site. I'm not saying it was super awesome, but I had fun writing it and I think taking another crack at it might be a hoot. Originally it was written as a Norse story but I was working on my current DnD campaign when I was working on it and I decided a main character from it migrated to the continent it the campaign was taking place on so I've been kind of wanting to go back and violently retcon it so it sits better with my campaign world and doesn't have so many overtly Earth/Norse references and this might be an opportunity to do so.

To sleep, and dreams of the Dolphinian-Sharkasian War! In this episode Porposian mercenaries go rogue and Admirals Ack and Barr must use all the tools at their disposal to track the mercenaries through the rings of Saturn and bring them to task before they can provide the Sharkasians with information regarding the secret moonbase on Titan.

Music: 2112 - Rush

In My Campaign: Kusseth Edition, Part 1

The country of Kusseth is known for many things, but there is one thing that truly defines it, its system of marking the population. No other nation in the Known World possesses such an in-depth way of keeping track of its population. Every man, women, and child, regardless of race, living legally within the borders of Kusseth bears a ten digit sequence of numbers behind their ear or somewhere upon their head (should they be lacking an ear) that indicates who they are as defined by the authorities of Kusseth. This ten digit number breaks down whether or not they are native or an immigrant, details the identity of the doctor that birthed them or the warden that granted them citizenry, and a few other important details. This ingenious system of tracking their population makes officials and lawmen quite effective in keeping track of the individual citizens of the country. Any walled town or city will ask for the number of each person entering the walls, wardens ask anyone they speak to to display their serial number, and when passing into the different areas of Kusseth City itself one is asked to display one's number by guards. In any situation that warrants it a warden or official can input the ten digit number into a slide card and feed it to one of the mighty analytical engines of the government which will signal most governmental offices to produce files and papers dealing with the serial number in question, within ten to fifteen hours the warden or official will have a stack or box of files in hand detailing all the recorded information regarding the individual who bears the serial number in question. In instances where the lawman or official is seeking the whereabouts of such individuals they can find a list of where their travels have taken them in the past six months. On such occasions an additional signal is tapped out on the wires indicating that the inquiring warden or official is to be kept updated on the travels of the serial number in question and will often find fresh dispatches in hand by the end of the week updating him on the movements of his quarry. Various specialized organizations in Kusseth use their own serial numbers as well. Wardens are not given an additional tattoo but are issued a badge with a unique number upon completion of their schooling. Military recruits are tattooed with information regarding their term of service and its completion or lack thereof, as are members of the guild of bounty hunters and those graduates of the colleges of the physician. Any citizen seeking to may obviously obscure their tattoo, but that often leads to more trouble than it is worth because it effectively erases them from Kusseth society preventing the procuring of loans, aid from law enforcement, and can often lead to slavery or conscription into the armed forces when one is unable to prove one's citizenry.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Robust Five Strike Ag...For The First Time

So, gaming was had today. You should probably know that I am metal. Apparently that, or a variation on it is my character's (Junkpile, the somewhat rusted and welded together Warforged that eats gemstones apparently) catchphrase. Kind of cool, not only do I have a character, but he has a catchphrase. It makes me happy. Anway, the rundown.

Everyone had books = GOOD.
Everyone had fun = GOOD.
Everyone got into in-game shenanigans = GOOD.
No one cracked books beforehand = EPIC BAD.

Every single little thing had to be looked up every time, which is ok. I understand we're beginners to 4th Edition and two guys have no experience with DnD. I anticipated this scenario taking a long, long time and am ok with it, because at the end of the day we all had fun. We were tired and hot but we had all had a good time, which is the important part. But man it would have been funner to get further than the first encounter in the span of seven and a half hours. I did have a bit of fun playing leader. At one point we broke into a shop in the dead of night and John's character John the Cleric tripped a trap which exploded and caused the sleeping shopkeeper upstairs to wake up. I ran upstairs yelling about how I heard an explosion and was a bouncer working at the tavern up the street (which was true) meanwhile gesturing for the rest of the party to run out the front door (which they did). Then as the shopkeeper woke up and sort of believed me I waited a bit to see if anyone else responded to the explosion (which wasn't that big of an explosion) like city guards or something, then hacked the shopkeeper's spine in two with my axe. Our goal was to put the guy out of business "one way or another" so I figured we could kill him, eliminate the body, and then run back to the quest giver and Bluff him into believing that he was dead when we got there. I was going for covering our asses in the event that the guards came around and found a dead body in a busy store and the quest giver felt like extorting us or something shady like that. I dunno, I was probably over-thinking stuff, but fuck it, I had fun and it was pretty damn close to what I see as role-playing. I knew Eric had no plan for guards finding a corpse or the quest giver betraying us, but I did it anyway because it seemed like the smart thing to do

Apparently I could do a History Channel-esque series on the facets of life in The Known World (my campaign world). I did little bits about my world all night, it got so bad towards the end that I could not do it and keep a straight face, it was too funny. I guess Jeremy wants to record our sessions, which would be fun to listen to I think. I dunno if they're worthy of a podcast, but we were laughing a lot and there was some good shit that I cannot remember for the life of me.

Steampunk Device of the Post: Cybernetic arm (because the names of some things don't change, even if they are steampunk).
Music: Criminal Minds Theme - Guys Who Do That Sort of Thing (Heather and I are watching TV)

Friday, May 22, 2009

In The Mouth of Madness (And The Shitting Therein)

If a shark ever tries to eat me, I'm going to shit right in its mouth. If I have the presence of mind to think of this, I am going to bring along a Big Fuck Knife if I ever travel into open water in the hopes that I can not only shit in its mouth, but cut its face open and shit in the wound as well. Ideally this will lead to an infection and kill the fucker. More than likely it is going to lead to the shark going "I'm a fucking shark! Rawr! Nom!" and I'm going to experience what bots experience when you enable the instagib mutator on Unreal Tournament. God I love that game. Maybe I should install it on my laptop and use Heather's camera to take some pictures at work. Might be fun for Tony and I to play some old school multiplayer with all of the bots skinned as our boss Arnie, co-worker Alan, and a carevan driver Tony loves to harass named Steve. Hmmm, I wonder if I can track down that mod that lets you skin yourself as a Dark Angel, Crimson Fist, or Ultramarine. While we're on the topic, I believe that when sharks evolve they will scour the Earth and instagib the entire human race, then they and the dolphins will have an epic war that will drag the very stars from the sky. Some people believe in God and Revelations and The Rapture, the sharks and dolphins and their wars in the far flung future are my mythos.

I should write that shit down.

I wrote a wee bit of Traith's tale last night, roughly eight hundred words, ends up as maybe a page in Microsoft Word. I got to the scene I've had stuffed in my head and I think it went ok, although I think I need to get into a bit more detail when I describe what Traith sees in the soulless' chest as well as write something that flows a bit smoother when Traith blows the back out of its skull with his revolvers. What comes next involves a crazy electricity obsessed scientist named A'lst, har har. It was either A'lst or F'enstein and A'lst sounds more non-Earthian. I haven't decided on it for certain yet, but it may allude to elements of history involving Doc's people, Kaleshmar, and slavery in general. Incidentally I think I figured out how to incorporate the Githzerai and Githyanki into my campaign (because why the fuck not?), not by those names though. I've always liked those races and their history and ties to the mindflayers (Which I've always kind of wanted to play, a mindflayer that is. The list of things I've wanted to play is rather robust and eclectic). Hmmm, I may want to start considering the impending doom of Kitchen Sink Syndrome and start to eyeball myself a little more carefully as I begin to fully flesh out this weird little world of mine.

Once upon a time I wanted to play a halfling (that means hobbit ala Frodo or Bilbo) barbarian. A halfling barbarian whose main method of making people bleed from holes in them was a sling and the appropriate stones for such a weapon (that means sling stones). The most ridiculous thing was that on paper, it worked. It was definitely not an optimal build for a halfling or a barbarian or anyone intending to kill shit with a sling, but it worked. Maybe it sucked balls in-game (never got to use it), but on paper it seemed decent.

This one steampunk device per DnD related post thing I've been doing is working out nicely. It forces me to think about the technological aspects of my campaign more thoroughly. I think I've figured out a way to incorporate steampunk devices as loot without screwing over PCs who choose not to bow their heads in prayer at the brass feet of technology. I think each device will provide a constant benefit for anyone who uses it, but if you are trained in Technomancy you can "fine tune" your whirring gizmo or whosit (which will inevitably be covered in vacuum tubes and bare wires) and get a once per day ability out of it. I obviously have to figure out how to believably (in the context of a world of screwball magic, demigods, and dirigibles) power this technology in a relatively miniaturized form. Adventurers and mercenaries are not well known for the wagon trains of clunky steampowered devices they carry behind them. I do have some plans for wireless transmitted energy/electricity, but that involves the PCs A) tracking down that A'lst guy and B) aiding him in his war with a guy whose name will inevitably be a most cunning (and possible reversed) anagram of Thomas Edison (maybe Edward Thomas?). They'll also probably have to kill a bunch of shit too.

Steampunk Device of the Post: Phrenoaccelerometer. It makes you harder to daze or put to sleep.

Music: Future Soon - Jonathon Coulton

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This Past Weekend (DnD Style) And Today

Ok, this could have been heaped in with the other post, but I'm kind of shooting for a separation of hobbies as far as posting goes. That way, if you are into DnD with me but have no interest in 40k (like Jeremy, which is why I didn't invite him down to Shawn's for the weekend, we spent a good chunk of the Saturday in hobby stores and talking about 40k) you can skip the 40k posts or writing posts or whatever and get to the stuff you care about. So, we talked DnD this weekend as well, mostly as it relates to Shawn and his characters in mine and Eric's campaign. He decided he is going to be a Bugbear Ranger in my campaign, who wields two massive maces and a cannon. I think this is awesome because no one has ever played a Bugbear in anything I've been a part of. Plus, a cannon. I mean, now I have to write up rules for cannons (off the top of my head, High Critical, Load Standard [feat to reduce to Load Move], range similar to a rifle, 2d6? 2d8? Can double as club or mace?) but hell, they're cannons and cannons are awesome. Hmm, was it a cannon or a mini-trebuchet style grenade launcher we were talking about? I can't remember which. Oh well. Shawn's choice also forces me to flesh out the goblinoids of the Fell Peaks a bit more. Once the Bugbears were the rulers of the goblin tribes, with Goblins as their advisers, and the Hobgoblins as their men-at-arms or whatever you want to call them. Then the Fell Humans wandered into town and everything changed. They literally burned the kingdoms of the goblin clans to the ground, erased their entire history, and then enslaved them (its true, there's even a feat that gives them a bonus when they try to do that with skills like Intimidate or Insight). Too much has changed for the Bugbears though, they couldn't cope psychologically with such a reverse of position and fortune and now their race has this weird malaise/ennui going on and is dying out. They're still big and deadly and whatnot, they just don't care anymore. They're tired. So that is a bit about Bugbears that will kind of enter into the finishing touches of the document on them I started and then put aside because no one expressed any interest in any of the goblin races.

If my math is correct (and it is highly questionable of late) there are 90+ police officers per square mile in New York City. Does that seem right? ...Apparently it is over a 100 per square mile. I now understand why Kusseth is so screwed up with its 2 wardens per square mile. I may need to alter the density of wardens in Kusseth.

It continues, heh. I finished my second scenario today and started in on my third. The sandbox idea is kind of fun. I'd really like to do it on a larger scale, like turn Kusseth City (or a six district block of it) into just a playground for the PCs. It gets kind of fun to just pile shit into a text document. I'm interested to see how the group goes about things without any direction or purpose. The goal of the scenario is to "lie low" and avoid getting put back in prison so its not like they have to go to Point A, find X amounts of monsters, make them bleed Y amount of hit points, find object B, and return to the quest giver. Oh, there's stuff like that in the scenario, they just have to find it. I actually had to pull myself away from it and force myself to start on the third one. My second scenario has a word count one hundred or so words short of my Traith Harris story. That is over 20,000 words for a DnD scenario and I had to force myself to stop. Don't get me wrong, a lot of it is notes to myself and descriptions and stuff like "if A happens B happens, or D happens if A and C happen." There's a lot of that kind of stuff. I have an almost obsessive amount of preparation put into this scenario. But that is how I roll. I don't have the ability to think on my feet when things go off the rail and into uncharted territory and I hate to say stuff like "No you cannot go left here." so I have to be as prepared as possible. I get a certain kick out of preparing for every conceivable avenue the players could take, and predicting their actions based on past experience, but it is still a lot of work.

I have some fun stuff planned for the third scenario and I'm pretty optimistic about how it will turn out. I actually think I'm pulling something I've never pulled on the guys before. Its not particularly tricksie but it is something of a twist on something they've very likely come to expect and possibly take for granted. I've put in a way for Shawn to enter the party in a reasonably believable fashion without just randomly appearing as well, not sure why I bothered with that, as no one will particularly care, but I did it.

Steampunk Device of the Post: Cryotic Heat Retardent Exhaust System. It's cold.

Also, because I haven't used it in conversation today: robust.

Music: On It - Mindless Self Indulgence

This Past Weekend (40k Style)

Went to visit Shawn in Grand Rapids with Eric this weekend. We went to not one, but two hobby stores. Had quite a bit of fun too. I couldn't find a Techmarine like I had wanted though, except with servitors and I have no need of servitors because my intent is to cannibalize the Techmarine and make my own warsmith for my Iron Warriors. GW makes a "warsmith" model with a bunch of bionics and a servo-arm, but I want something a bit more top shelf than that for my warsmith. I also saw some already painted Iron Warriors on display and for sale in one of the hobby stores. Pretty much looked like mine, except that they didn't have any hazard stripes and the gold detail work was a bit sloppy and caked on. In retrospect I should have bought them if they were decently priced, they had a bunch Iron Hands bionics added on to them and that box set is 45 bucks and I'll only need like half the bits. Hmm, actually that might not be a totally bad idea, I am after all fielding a loyalist marine army as well. Plus, I am getting sick of the Assault on Black Reach marines. They are easy to put together and there are some helm variants never before seen and it is glorious to not have to fuck with bolters and arms, but they can look like shit. I actually bought a devastator box from the second store we checked out because I need a missile launcher for my Lamenters squad. I'm going to try fielding the Codex-standard Flamer/Missile Launcher combo for a while to see if it works alright. Unfortunately the missile launcher snap together marine from Black Reach looks like shit. So I bought devastators to get a kneeling missile launcher marine, and some devastators because I intend on fielding at least one squad of the heavy weapons guys with my Lamenters. Maybe two. It all depends on how Eric and Shawn's armies turn out. They're Tau and have railguns, railguns with their Strength 10, AP 1, and 72 inch range. That's six feet and part of why I am doing a drop pod army. Drop pods are awesome and I love the whole concept of hurtling down through the atmosphere under fire, explosively exiting your pod and unleashing hell. In game terms, they offer cover and an additional gun. With the shooty nature of Tau I figure the point cost of pods is worth it because to a certain extent it allows me to control where my marines start out and if I can get it right I can move from cover to cover which will greatly, and negatively, affect the deadliness of the Tau. Obviously, I am a rookie and this could all go horrifically wrong (which is why I will be using styrofoam cups as my drop pods until I get the hang of them and decide I can wield this army effectively). I might throw in more devs than the one squad because Shawn tends to imply that he'll be all meched up at some point and some lascannons will put a damper on his hammerheads and pirahnas and whatnot. The same goes for Eric. A big 1.5k point battle per person might be fun with Tony and I fighting Eric and Shawn.
Music: War Eagle - Early Man

Friday, May 15, 2009

Brass Clad Cyborgs With Guns

I started my story about Traith Harris when I was in the midst of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. So yeah, Traith and his dual revolers and his duster and boots and constant smoking is definitely channeling Roland Deschain. The fact that he is a cop could I suppose be taken as a nod at Roland as well, although Roland is technically a knight. Knight, cop, they're close enough in my book. Traith's odd speech patterns, while not a direct rip off, is definietly influenced by the way King wrote Roland's dialogue. That's where it stops though, I think. I'm sure if Tony read my Traith stuff he could point something else. Right now Traith only has a brass ribcage and spine (at some point I intend on an enemy busting his fist to pieces against Traith's chest). Eventually he ends up with a boiler in his gut powering his various mechanical bits. I know his eyes are mechanical (how I pull that off is something I am incredibly interested to see), both arms are as well, and through my writing I have implied that at least part of his legs are mechanical though I have not explicitly said so. I know a large portion of his skull is metal as is his jaw, how that happens has not been decided yet. So that is Traith at the moment and in the future. The future is only relevant because the story is written as kind of a memory, so we already know how he ends up.

I've had some trouble writing him lately. For a while I was bouncing back between Traith and Cromm (the main character of the book I finished) and I sort of kicked into overdrive with Cromm to finish it and Traith kind of fell to the wayside as I finished with Cromm, started a sequel to Cromm's story, then wandered into the realm of the ridiculous as I picked up my story about a pyrokinetic named James. While I love James' attitude and mental state and find a few bits of the story to be some of my best writing, it is an awful story that can't seem to go anywhere. Hang on a sec, this is about Traith, not James.

Traith. I've had some trouble writing him. Like I get stuck in between what I call "scenes." I'm not sure if that's an actual term for it but its how I refer to it. I start at point/scene A and have an intent to get to B, but on the way to B I kind of meander with my writing. Or I keep B in my head and think about it on a daily basis, but a week will pass before I physically write something out on my laptop or a notebook. I guess its good that I have a clear picture of the next "scene" and how it affects the plot but I sometimes wish I was back to writing four hours every day like when I was writing that Norse-themed serial (which also took place in my DnD world). But I wasn't DMing then, or painting, or working out, or watching quite so many TV shows on a weekly basis. I guess I just had more free time then.

That's part of the purpose of this blog though. To break my hobbies down and kind of talk about them to keep me focused on persuing them. Something is always rattling around in my skull as far as writing so this is a convenient place to stow the kernel of an idea until I can put the proverbial pen to paper. Proverbial pen to paper, that works, right?

Music: Nobody's Hero - Rush

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shit Kicker...Prime

Ok, to explain this ridiculous image I found in my head tonight I first have to explain a few things. Just as a warning, its not even that funny. Anyway.

I have always liked the idea of Warforged in DnD, basically mini-golems or fantasy robots first appearing in the Eberron campaign setting. Now, I put them in my current campaign but I wanted to do something other than rip them off blatantly. There is a race of undead in my campaign known as the Fallen, as in The Fallen Empire of Man. They cannot actually die, you can turn them to ash and cut off their heads and such but they don't die per se. There is always a little bit of residual...unlife I guess, left in their bodies or remains or whatever is actually left. Their race is dying out because they have no way to create more of themselves (fully sentient undead), so they created something called the soulless to fill in the ranks of their ever shrinking armies. Soulless are Warforged, what differs is the creation process and the aesthetic. The warforged are smooth and well designed and very human-like, the soulless are basically bolted together plates of metal covered in rivets and weld marks and rust. They appear humanoid, but they are very clearly metal monstrosities covered in spikes and jagged metal. Their creation involves taking the ashes of "dead" Fallen and enclosing them in the metal frame of a soulless and using arcane rituals to fuse their power to the metal shell. The ashes basically become the soulless' "blood" and animating force. What it amounts to is cramming six or seven undead personalities together into a metal body and hoping everything works out alright. It's actually kind of neat, my fluff has the personalities occasionally causing the soulless to blurt out their (the personalities) thoughts or do something they want. It also has what I consider a neat side effect that makes the soulless sound like a bunch of people are saying the same thing slightly out of time with one another whenever it talks.

Now, next part of the set up. Back when we played d20 Modern Shadow Chasers the group was a paranormal detective agency specializing in the killing of magical creatures and whatnot. Eventually it was decided that they needed transportation so I gave them a battered Dodge (I think) van from the 80s. It was dubbed "Shitkicker #1" (there was going to be a fleet) and a bat-winged penis was drawn on the hood, as is the standard procedure in such situations. I vaguely remember them running over a troll or something with it.

Final bit here. I was doing research for my campaign on steam wagons and I came across a picture of a decent looking one. I immediately began writing an email to Jeremy regarding my ideas for Shitkicker Mark 000. Then I had a sudden image of a soulless built in the shape of a steam wagon with a ranger-esque Jeremy character atop it with a rifle in hand and the soulless bellowing "Roll out!" and mowing down a horde of goblins, and that is how I came up with Shitkicker Prime. That image had me giggling like an idiot for a good five minutes.

Music: Set Fire To The Face On Fire - Blood Brothers

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Robust (Obviously)

Steve isn't my actual name, but it is something I've always gone by when I don't use my real name. so I guess it is a name I've given myself. Anyway, this isn't really a blog about my life, its about my hobbies. I've recently found myself somewhat daunted be the sheer volume of hobbies I currently possess, plus I work full-time, am engaged, and planning a wedding. The purpose of this blog is to kind of talk to myself, or any who feel like stopping by, and sort of keep myself motivated. So I guess I'll start off with a breakdown of what I occupy my time with.

Dungeons and Dragons
This is currently my real joy right now as far as hobbies go. I've been playing this game for...fourteen years on and off now and for the first time ever I am DMing and gaming as a PC at the same time. Two different campaigns are being run in our group right now, there is so much Geek Pheremone in the air that I might choke and die. Eric is running a campaign and it seems interesting. Mixes fantasy with end of the world apocalyptic type shit. I think it has potential but Eric is kind of a beginner when it comes to DMing (he's done it before a few times, but it never goes for very long) and I'm concerned that if it doesn't go perfectly he's going to get discouraged and quit, which would infuriate me. I can count the number of times I've played as a PC in the past fourrteen years on the fingers of one hand, and I can still pick my nose and give a thumbs up with what I have left over. I'm playing a warforged fighter and it should be an interesting time. I am extremely excited about running my own campaign. I have a lot of neat shit stuffed into it that I'm hoping the players will wander around and discover. I'm looking forward to throwing a lot of ridiculously impossible steampunk gadgetry into the game. I just came up with something called a Non-Ferrous Reverse Polarity Field Generator. I think it repels bullets.

I read quite a bit, mostly fantasy and sci-fi and the occasional foray into regular fiction. My favorite authors would have to be Roger Zelazny, Michael Moorcock, Chuck Palahniuk, Robert E. Howard, Brandon Sanderson, Michael Swanwick, Dan Abnett and apparently Cory Doctorow. I just started listening to the Cory Doctorow podcast in which he read his books and I find them to be quite awesome. Right now I'm reading a Warhammer 40,000 novel that is a collection of stories from the Horus Heresy. So far its decent, nothing particularly awesome has shown up as of yet but it is always an enjoyable experience to read about the Heresy. My next read is going to be The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Should be an interesting read, its about Charles Babbage and his mechanical computers and what if they had actually worked back then and changed the course of the computer industry. After that is a biography of Nikola Tesla. I've been kind of fascinated by this guy and his inventions since I saw him in The Prestige played by David Bowie, who is awesome.

I suppose everyone likes TV and movies and whatnot, otherwise actors would not make quite so much money I guess. That said, I watch a lot of fucking TV and movies. A list of my favorite movies because lists are apparently the trend of this first post: Alien, The Departed, Die Hard(s), Predator, The Prestige, Zoolander...nevermind. A shorter list would be a list of movies I don't like. I love cinematic adventures. My three favorite TV shows right now (despite the fact that they are all currently between seasons) are Burn Notice, Dexter, and Doctor Who. Glorious stuff. Dexter because the premise is utterly brilliant, as is Michael C. Hall's acting. Burn Notice for too many reasons to list. Doctor Who because its Doctor Who, and David Tennant is just as great an actor as Michael C. Hall.

Video Games
I have a PC (obviously), an Xbox 360, and a PS2. Currently I'm playing Fallout 3 and the Broken Steel DLC. I would say Fallout 3 is just about my favorite game for 360 and third favorite video game of all time. The first is Planescape: Torment because, shit, because its awesome. You play an undying creature that is basically an indestructible mass of scars. Plus, the game can actually be beaten with words instead of blades. Second favorite is Disgaea for PS2 because of its insane level of overcomplication and its quirky and loveable sense of humor. Plus, demonic knife-wielding penguings.

Warhammer 40k
I play Warhammer 40k, a miniatures wargame. I say "play" when I really mean paint and fiddle with Excel spreadsheets of point values and wargear lists. I have two armies in the works right now, Iron Warriors (Chaos Space Marines) and Lamenters (Loyalist Space Marines). I work on a squad at a time and sort of alternate between each army. I only really work on them once a week, but I think that's ok because I am apparently the only one who paints anything anymore. Not that it matters, I like painting the minis and its kind of a nice way to spend a morning. I'm a fan of the Iron Warriors because they are so bitter and angry and all they have left is the Long War. Plus they're helmets are cool. Lamenters rock because they are badass. Not only did they basically get fed into the face of a Tyranid fleet, but they survived it. Plus they're chapter symbol is a heart and I think that's neat.

I write. I've finished one story which I've sent out to most of my friends to read. Despite giving it to them over eight months ago, no one has really responded with anything about it which is actually really depressing. Right now I'm working on another one, about 21 thousand words in. The story kind of has, I dunno, have you ever heard the song Identity Crisis by Alice Cooper? Yeah, its kind of like that. It kind of flows back and forth between steampunk and western and definite fantasy elements. Its also set in the world where my DnD campaign is taking place.

Music: Bowie To Bowie - Flight of the Conchords