Monday, November 30, 2009

Inconcistencies Continued, Part 15

The meeting had devolved into pointless arguing that finally resulted in everyone but the Robot and the Sorcerer throwing their hands up in frustration and storming off to their own portions of the fire station. The Sorcerer sat at the table and was attempting to light a cigarette with a lighter the Driver had left behind. Once he successfully lit the cigarette and inhaled he began choking and coughing as the harsh smoke irritated his lungs.

“Why do they do this?” He asked between coughs.

“I am unaware. I believe there is an element of chemical addiction to it, among other things.”

“I cannot imagine anyone finding this experience enjoyable.”

“Chronic use builds up tolerance levels, in addition to dependency.”

“Ah, I see.”

“Do you have any additional input regarding our course of action?”

The Sorcerer laughed and said, “Are you sure you do not mean inaction?”

“You are referring to the fact that our lack of agreement on a next course of action is forcing us to sit idle when there is work to be done. You are attempting humor.”


“I have a question for you regarding your powers. May I ask it?”

“Of course,” the Sorcerer said, gesturing with a hand for the Robot to proceed.

“You are linked through realities to objects that funnel you power to shape and direct. You have shown that it is in your power to deflect physical objects via planes of force.”

The Sorcerer nodded, “That is correct.”

“How potent can these planes of force be? For instance, are you able to deflect light or perhaps sound?”

“Ah,” the Sorcerer said with a nod of comprehension, “you speak of invisibility, the power to go undetected by sight, and perhaps sound.”

“I do. Is this deed within your power?”

“I believe I could shield us from biological sensory modes, but not electronic as well. I would strain my powers doing so, and the protection would not last very long with me unconscious.”

“If we can provide you with a sufficient energy source, would you be able to convert it into the necessary power to fuel such an endeavor?”

The Sorcerer tapped his chin with a finger, his eyes unfocusing and looking past the Robot, finally speaking.

“It would depend on the type of energy and the duration of the spell.”

The Robot moved his hand to his side and undid a panel there, exposing his internal workings to the Sorcerer.

“If I provide you with the limitless power of the atom, could you shield us from sight and sound for nine to ten hours?”

The Sorcerer frowned, “If this is the name of Dog that animates you, such a drain could conceivably kill a golem, even one such as you.”

“Your assessment is inaccurate. Based on my readings after tuning my sensors to perceive how you work energy and matter I have estimated, based on the power output of my core, such a fueling of your abilities would reduce me to 37% of my normal combat effectiveness. This weakness would last for roughly twenty-nine hours. These values can be altered by reducing the speed at which signals bounce back and forth between my sensors and my processors, shutting down memory units, and reducing the strength of my servos as the move.”

“You are saying you would be blind and crippled once we get where you have decided we go.”

“Inaccurate. If I power down my sensors and servos to the point where I perceive the world at roughly human level perception and move and function at human level speed and strength I would only be reduced to perhaps 63% combat effectiveness. With bravo team joining us this reduction in my combat abilities should be negligible.”

“What is your plan, golem? What would you have me shield?”

“Is size a factor in your calculations?” the Robot asked as he slammed the plate in his side shut.

“Shielding bigger areas will be more difficult, yes. The difference in power necessary for such a prolonged use of my powers is negligible though.”


“I will ask again, what is your plan, golem?”

“The borders here in America will always be in flux, there are too many opposing factions in this country and our impact is not significant, especially when we can be set back so much by a single frontal assault. The demons coming from your world are a more significant threat, and we are the few who know of their plans. We are in effect the only ones capable of stopping them. The only real course of action for us is to commandeer a jet or plane of some sort and attempt to make landfall in Germany and raid whatever bunker the occultists of the Reich are dwelling in.”

“That…will be difficult.”

“You are correct. It is the only course of action though. If we continue to batter the Germans and Americans here, we will save a few lives and perhaps gain the rebellion a few thousand reichmarks of materiel. This will not stop the coming of the demons, and they will likely kill every human our efforts manage to save.”

“As much as I dislike it, those words are true. Those saved in this land will most assuredly fall to the demons.”

“Then you support my plan?”

“I suppose I must.”

“Excellent.” The Robot turned as if to leave the table, but turned back to the Sorcerer, “A final two questions.”


“Why have the demons not come to our world yet?”

“They have no means of seeing the great tapestry that is the various realities. They can journey through time and space to break the wall between realities, but they have no way of knowing what will be where they go. If someone from your world is calling to them, they have a beacon to lock onto that they can see and use to guide them.”

“Ah. My second query, is there any way to keep them from coming to this world?”

“Other than shutting off the aforementioned beacon that is your Germans?”


“I suppose if this world were dead, or mostly unpopulated, it would not be worth the resources they must expend to journey here.”

“A third question for you.”

The Sorcerer sighed, “Ask.”

“Could we conceal the population of this world from them?”

The Sorcerer shook his head, “You would have to mask the lifesigns of every living thing in this world to confuse them. They sense life and energy as I do, the strange powers within you would read as life to them and they would add you to their tally, just as they will add us all. I cannot shield this world from their sight, not even with the name of Dog within your chest fueling my powers.”

“I see.”

The Robot turned and did leave this time.

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's A Twist!

Just pretend the title of this post is whatever you feel is appropriate.

A few days ago I wrote something about the Bible of the Sharkosian-Dolphinian war being lodged in my brain. It was. It has since vanished, more writing has taken its place though. What I'm physically writing is the upcoming DnD scenario that occurs as the party journeys south to Hell, I'm also picking back up the alterations I'm making to my finished story. The alterations are a lot more time consuming and annoying that I'd really like to admit, but they need to be done. I just fear that I'll never again be able to read and enjoy this story once its finally finished and done, which would bum me out. I dunno, this is the first story I really dedicated a lot of energy to, and I hate to think I've grown bored or annoyed with it from having read and re-read and re-written so much of it. Its frustrating because I like Keroen, I like where he goes and what he becomes. Its hard to keep focused when rewriting his story is so hard for me to do and writing DnD is a thousand times easier. Even Inconsistencies is easier to write, I can bang out a thousand and a half words of Inconsistencies in like twenty or thirty minutes (to be fair, it shows) and that's normally how I write it Sunday night or Monday morning.

Inconsistencies is going south for me though. Not south as in, the South, but south as in I want to stop writing it. I hadn't originally intended to write it for this long. I thought of it as a one shot thing, but then Jeremy wanted more and said he'd pay for such, so I wrote more. It will be ending soon though, so yeah. If you still read it, sorry. I thought I could drag it out by writing about the Evil Southern Twins, but no one seemed particularly interested in them and like I said, I'm getting sick of writing about the whole world.

To heap another layer of honesty onto the developing pile here: I'm getting sick of the GURPS Reich-5-esque world. Ten years ago when we all got together at Jeremy's and had Dan on speaker phone and we were all in awe of the system and the intriguing implications of the setting, I was dedicated and into it and ready to roll some fucking six sided dice. Now I have a stable of ten viable characters to play, twenty thousands words of background story, books, and a solid understanding of the system and the world, and all I can think is "Nazis. Meh. Lets do Planescape." I don't even want to play the Brick or the Telekinetic anymore, and the Robot bores me with his six (on average) or more 6d p+ damage attacks each second of combat.

Plus, I have the suspicion Dan's initial interest in GURPSing shit up has waned. Or maybe I'm projecting, which is always a possibility.

This is not to say that I wouldn't play GURPS and have no desire to do the Reich-5ish setting. I made the setting, even if Eric puts his own twist on it, my story is going to color everyone's perception of it and I wouldn't have wasted time writing about something if I didn't like it. I like the setting, and I like GURPS a lot more and still want to see it in action, but I'm just not super psyched about it (the setting) anymore.

To bounce back over to writing. Like I said, the Sharkosian-Dolphinian thing fell away before I could get it to paper, which means it will roll around in there behind the scenes for a while before it pops up again. I'll get it out eventually, its one of those silly things I write to goof around, kind of like Inconsistencies.

The more I think about it, the more I think I'm going to need to restart the Traith story, rather than continue with what's already there. Some of what I've written can be used, but the parts that frame it need to be redone. This is unfortunate, but I think if I have a fresh start to work with I'll be able to do better with the story than my current effort. In the time since I last worked on it I've been able to hash out a clearer picture of the world, Kusseth, and the wardens in general and that can only aid in the development of Traith's story.

To bounce back to what I was rambling about with GURPS. I think the problem was that I got all revved up and ready to go like I do, and then we didn't go anywhere. We said it would be a while, but I bought my books two months ago and looking at the GURPs files on my computer they have a last modified date of May, which may or may not mean anything. The date I wrote out the timeline of Reich-5 is in August, so counting August, we are about to move into our fifth month of toying around with the idea of possibly maybe doing a GURPS campaign. I know we all agreed it would be a while before we got this all together, but we haven't even tried out a mock battle and tomorrow is the first time Eric and I are really going to sit down and work on some stuff for a mock battle. We're a weee bit shy of moving into half a year here guys and I'm starting to get bored.

I'm not trying to be an ass or mean, and if I'm coming off that way I apologize to any friends that are readers that are reading this. I'm four scenarios deep in DnD, plus two playtest games with everyone, and I've converted my campaign to GURPS. I'm not saying that I am more awesome than everyone else, believe me, I have my shortcomings in this department and they are legion (Eric and Jeremy and Dan can wholeheartedly attest to that). I'm just saying that either we are going to do this or not and its time to shit or get off the pot. Either we want to play GURPS and make time to do so, or we admit defeat.

Music: Chylde of Fire - Witchcraft
Music: Sorrow Evoker - Witchcraft
Music: You Bury Your Head - Witchcraft
Music: I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
Music: Evil Is - Early Man
Music: War Eagle - Early Man
Music: Billy Jean - Michael Jackson.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kuh None


Gaming on Sunday got me thinking about canon and retcons. I run a campaign in the same world I write in, but there are some pretty stark (to me) differences between those worlds. When setting up for 4th Edition I had to make some changes to the world to fit it into the system of rules that 4th Edition uses, so things aren't a perfect fit. See, I don't know how to make races and have them be balanced in 4th Edition, so I had to take a race already granted stats and try to alter them enough to fit what I envisioned for each race but still keep the general shape of what I based them off of to preserve balance. I have no idea how to create classes, and lack the time and inclination to do so, so those were a lost cause in the first place.

For simple ease of use and translation, I used dwarves as dwarves. Their stats are the same in my campaign as they are in core, and that was a poor decision on my part. The dwarves of core are a warrior race and have all kinds of good attributes for fights. They can use their Second Wind as a Minor Action and they have a stability ability that allows them to avoid pushes, pulls, and being knocked prone. All of which allow them to work extremely well as defenders and maintain a front line melee position marking as many foes as possible to keep them off of everyone else. The "dwarves" of my world are a dark dwelling merchant race. They have warriors yes, but nowhere near what they once had and their society has become a collection of merchants, bankers, scholars, and aristocrats with the warriors as the lower class citizens. They've lost the warrior nature that makes core dwarves what they are. If I had had more time to think it all through, I'd probably base the Children of Volung off of the core dwarf template (rather than dragontits), my dwarves off of the eladrin template, and base the Vyanth off something else. Aside from the ability to teleport, eladrin fit a lot better with the concept of my dwarves than anythig else I've found so far.

I also felt bad about Fell-Humans and their half-human descendants in this particular scenario. I found tiefling to be the best core race to fit with fell-humans, but again, it is not a perfect fit. Most of what I've written equates the hell-kin to a race of men twisted and malformed by demonic magic. This is true. Unfortunately most of the guys tend to perceive this exactly as tieflings look, red skin, horns, hooves, etc (at least I think that is how they picture it). I more envisioned it as people with vestigial tails, patches of scaly skin, arms that are shrunken and mishapen, or way out in left field with a fraternal twin fused to your spine with a head that peaks over yours. It was always a mutation fueled by magic, but it was meant to be darker and more twisted than "we are mini-demons, grrr."

Edit: To be fair, the way I made Nakmander look pretty much fits the mini-demon motif to a tee. So I guess the problem is my fault.

Music: Burn the Earth - Dethklok
Music: Be My Lover - Alice Cooper

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


You may have noticed that a lot of my posts fluctuating in text size, font, and various other things that are kind of random. I'm not sure why exactly it does that or exactly how to get it to quit. I imagine it is a bit of a pain in the ass, and I apologize. If anyone has any insight into Blogger and how to control this beast, please offer suggestions.

Music: The Snake - Witchcraft

Monday, November 23, 2009


There was some stuff here. Some of it was optimistic, some of it was a complaint. I deleted it because I can write it in a shorter format. Sunday went as follows: Overall I had fun and think everyone else had fun. There were some frustrating points for me, and some frustrating points for the group. Eric got a little pissy, but I forgive him. I need to pay more attention to what they do, because they did didn't know how to run or bull rush and didn't know you could downgrade a standard action to a move or minor action. I kind of have the expectation that they are looking at their books and familiarizing themselves with rules and their class between scenarios, and I'm not sure they do that or know that. I may make a point of mentioning that to them. Its not a big deal, but its difficult for me to remember the scenario, rules and abilities I need to know for my NPCs, and make sure the player are all following the rules for reloads and attacks and keep track of what powers they're using and their math. That's reasonable isn't it?

So what is next for Steve the DM? Well, I want to work out the called shot system. It should be fun, but I don't see the real need. All it will be is a series of attacks, made with penalties based on the target, to add a status effect or ongoing damage effect to enemies. So many powers already do that, so it seems redundant to me. After the called shots are finished and submitted to the group I begin work in earnest on the fifth scenario. I'm hoping to set up something in the scenario that the PCs take note of, but don't really care about, and don't really think of till the final scenario. I'm also going to do something to immerse the group in the scenario. It involves finding a decent text to speech converter. We'll see how it works.

I find myself thinking ahead. What will my next campaign be? I mean, I finally feel myself settling (happily) into the role of DM, so I intend to continue after this campaign finishes. Its going to be in this world, definitely. This world is too rich for me to just cast aside. Will it pick up where this campaign left off? Will it be about the Nel? Will Volung's brother descend from the North to finally murder him for his crimes? (Anyone know who Volung is?) I dunno what it will be, but it will definitely be in this world. Seriously, I do not know what it will be, nor do I want to. If I start thinking about it now I will get sidetracked. This is something I can ignore till like the tenth or eleventh scenario, which is when I see us heading into the end game of the campaign. I'm planning twelve scenarios, more if necessary (and happily).

What system will it be? 4th? No. I like 4th Edition, but its not a good fit for my world. If I still wanted my elves to like forests and was still into Tolkien-esque cliches, I'd do 4th edition. Its also RPG Lite. I like it, but it is definitely a less complex version of DnD than the previous editions, and this is a good thing and a bad thing, depending on who you are. I can find reasons for it being both.

Will it be GURPS? Perhaps. John seems interested in it and Jeff as well. Honestly, if not for Fred and Martel and the fact that they bought a book and travel at least half an hour to join us when we game, I would have switched to GURPS already for this campaign. I love the complexity of the system and the way you can tweak everything about your character to be what you want. I love the depth you can add to combat, or remove if you want something less rules heavy.

Pathfinder, the supposed DnD 3.75, has its hooks in me as well. I like the art style a lot. I mean, its generic fantasy art (minus the much maligned, and deservedly so, dragontits of 4th Edition) but I like the style of it. I have yet to do a real in depth look at the ruleset, but it does appear to be a more refined version of 3.5 that doesn't have the massive changes of 4th. Maybe I'll read it a bit and see if I can pro and con it. We'll see.

Music: Refrigerator Heaven - Alice Cooper
Music: Faeries Wear Boots - Black Sabbath

It Was Here All Along, Honest (Inconsistencies Continued, Part 14)

The members of bravo team were laughing and slapping each other on the back as they entered the firehouse but fell silent when they saw the other team. Alpha team was sitting around a table bandaging wounds and loading their various firearms. The Robot was wrapping fresh ammo belts around its body next a large steel weapons locker. The Gangster and Driver were smoking like chimneys and neither the Doctor nor the Sorcerer looked terribly happy.

“Speak, man of science.” Said the Brick.

The Doctor sighed and said,

“What would you have me say?”

“You are the planner, the leader, than man that has brought us all together in this fashion to fight the Reich. Your plans and ploys have served this group well, and now there are two of you, what is our next move?”

The Doctor pushed away from the table, his chair scraping violently against the floor, and said, “There is no plan. All the work we put into supplying the lab has been wasted, every sensor or bug we’ve placed to keep track of the Germans in Chicago is now compromised. Everything we’ve been working at for the past eight months is useless. All the blood shed for the cause has been rendered worthless!”

“We yet have breath in our lungs, blood in our bodies, we live and we may fight. That is the soldier’s way. Cry into your beakers and notepads if you must, but I am a warrior and will not cease to fight until my country cuts the heart from my chest!”

The Immortal and the Telekinetic added cries of support to the Brick’s sentence.

“What would you have me do? We have nothing but the clothes on our backs and the Chevy.”

The Driver coughed and spoke while gesturing at he and the Gangster with a lit cigarette, “Chevy’s smoking worse than the two of us.”

“Fight!” cried the Brick, “Start again. Raid and pillage the Germans and the North. Every gun we take from them is one more in our hands and one less in there’s.”

“Not to denigrate and step upon the honor of a soldier, but what happens in this Chicago city is irrelevant to the fate of the larger world,” said the Sorcerer.

The Brick looked at him like he was an idiot and ignored him.

The Doctor did not.

“He is right, Chicago and America are meaningless if the misinformed students of the supernatural employed by the Germans have their way.”

“Ah, yes, demons.” The Brick raised his hands and made air quotes when he said demons.

“You doubt the truth of my statements?” asked the Sorcerer.

“I doubt nothing. Once I was a man, little magician, a man of strength and honor and now I can rip the pistons out of an armored truck’s engine. This world is not a bland and unimaginative place. What I doubt is our ability to hinder the ploys of crazed cultists on another continent.”

The Robot spoke up, “He is correct. Our options are limited by geography. The events our newest team member speaks of are more relevant to the world at large, thus they are the more important goal. Unfortunately our ability to have any impact upon them is limited by geography.”

“We allow the world to burn around us merely because we have a distant goal?” asked the Immortal.

“Even if I can get the Chevy running, it ain’t got flippers to do any swimming.” Said the Driver.

“I thought you Americans were imaginative, full of shiny ideas and whimsical ploys that outsmart the crude and plodding Germans at every turn.”

The Driver snorted and said, “An I thought all you Krauts were racist sons of bitches that thought they owned every inch of the damn world.”

Knuckles popped like thunder as the Brick clenched his fists.

“Little American, I will beat you to death with your little American car if you are not careful with the insults your little mouth spews forth.”

Little was the word the Brick used to show his contempt for other.

The Gangster’s lighter popped and interrupted the hard stares of the Driver and Brick. He inhaled on the freshly lit cigarette and shifted in his seat, casually bringing the barrel of the piano in line with the Brick’s face.

“While your goin an getting the car,” he said, “do me a favor an grab any smokes the Unies had on ‘em.”

The Brick took a step forward, his massive fists raised.


The Robot dialed it back from eleven and continued, “We must fight as one unit if we are to do anything. When we first agreed to work together in our exodus from the Fatherland we found our elements were too prone to discord to bring together and divided into teams with members that possessed strengths complimentary to one another. If we are to join together in battle once more, we must cease these petty arguments and frivolous biological comparisons.”

The Doctor took his seat once more and put his head in his hands while the Sorcerer leaned towards the Gangster, whispering.

“Comparing genital size?”

“Means they’re arguing ‘cause each thinks he’s bigger, better, an smarter than the other.”

“Your world is strange.”

The Gangster laughed, “Ain’t that Dog’s honest truth.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thumbs Down

So. I had this brilliant idea about how to snazz up our gaming by building areas and enemies out of Legos, rather than the Dogawful DnD miniatures. I wasn't planning on building every battlefield, just the big deal encounters and set pieces. So I broke out all my Legos and set to work, and failed. I forgot that I have shit for Legos. I have two moderately sized sets, a fancy submarine and a smaller space station, everything else is little thirty to fifty piece sets. I have bricks, but not enough to build true walls. I have plates, but not enough to build multiple floors in a multi-story building. I have weapons and armor, but not enough to equip everyone or give the impression that everyone is wearing leather and has a backpack and is an 1800s era adventurer. So it all looks like a piece of shit, except for the minifigs, which actually look...if not good, at least entertaining and with some custom weapons I ordered last night we should at least have a wide variety of implements of destruction to equip the group and their enemies with.

These leads to the descent of the second opposable digit. The idea I spoke of a few posts ago cannot happen without the properly constructed Lego battlefield. Its still there, but I had to gut a few things and change the shape of the environment. It still works, but it is nowhere near as cinematic or different. Oh well, lament for what could have been dear reader. You missed out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Am I Oblivious?

Did I just seriously drag a group, unwillingly, into an edition of Dungeons and Dragons they despise? They bought books, for the most part, I thought that was a good sign.

Eric said he hates 4th Edition. I have no idea why, other than being unable to mechanically represent crafting goods and services. I totally had no idea he was this anti-4th Edition. I thought he was right there beside me thinking it was a great system.

Interlude: Look. I get it. You want to say you made something and you want to represent you made something. I understand it. I think its noble. I want to do it too, every never used character I made up (and they were legion) had a skill point in a crafting skill of some kind. Its neat to be able to say you did it, that you are self sufficient and made your own arrows and boot laces. I'm going to paraphrase something Chris Perkins said. The fact that you made your sword or shield or belt has no impact whatsoever on the game mechanics, a longsword is afterall a longsword. Why waste character sheet stat blocks and rulebook space representing a bit of fluff that is easily represented by saying, "When I was a young lad my uncle ran the local smithy, before goblins assualted our village I was to become his apprentice and this was my first piece of trusty metalcraft and it has stood me in good stead all these long years." From a realistic (in game terms) standpoint, you very likely do not own a forge or tannery or shoemakers shop or an achemy lab. You can get raw materials in your travels yes, and buy what you don't have (which is represented in 3.5s crafting skills), but how much is it going to cost you to rent that forge for a week or a few days to make all those arrowheads and throwing knives? How much to rent that nutter of an alchemist's back lab to concoct your herbal remedies? I will tell you: a lot. I love GURPS in part for its extensive skills about building your own gadgets, and they would be of great use in my campaign for all the gadgetry Eric longs to craft, but I don't buy it as a black mark against 4th Edition.

I will tell you why I like 4th Edition. Maybe I've done so in a previous post, but I don't remember it.

-Role Designations: Most people seem to believe the Leader/Defender/Controller/Striker names as the grim specter of MMOs horning in on our ancient and beloved relic of P&P RPG joy. Its not. Its something you did but didn't have a name for. If you were a fighter you knew you would be trying to get in the way of stuff trying that was trying to squish the wizard and you knew you could take more hits than the wizard. That's a defender. The role designations are like a big glowing sign that tells you what a class' schtick is, and that is useful because a player usually knows what he likes to play and it saves you the time of having to read every single class feature and power of a Controller if you think Controllers are too complex and you like Defenders.

-Paragon Paths: I like these for the same reason I like prestige classes. They're a way for you to supplement the more mundane aspects of the basic classes with fancier bits, or to specialize your basic abilities in a certain way. I like paragon paths over prestige classes because the paragon paths don't come with tables of attack and save matrices and spell lists and bonus feats. They're a simpler, easier to use way of specializing your character to fit what you envision it as.

-Healing Surges: Every character is now responsible for their own healing. The leader classes take what you have, add in a bit more, and that is how they heal you. I've read some accounts of people being annoyed that all PCs can spontaneously regenerate their tissue. I don't see surges that way. I see them that same way that I see hit points, as reserves of vitality and endurance and your ability to push yourself on, the same way a boxer pushes himself to get up before the ref hits the ten count. Just like a boxer, eventually your reserves run out and that is when you get down to your last surges and bits of hit points.

-XP Budgets For Encounters: Finally, rules for encounter building that I can understand. Not only are they easily understood, but they're simple to implement. Challenge ratings and encounter levels were something I could never wrap my head around. I never knew if I was calculating difficulty properly and properly plugging in monster. Creating encounters for 4th Edition is refreshingly easy and I am always confident I'm making the right choices.

-One Chart: In the previous edition, every basic and prestige class had an associated chart with associated spell progression charts and occasionally additional charts for whatever special ability the class happens to have. In the PHB there is one single chart depicting feat, power, and ability score bonus progression. One single chart necessary for figuring out what you need to do to level up.

-Static Hit Points: Hallelujah. In previous editions hit points were random, if you combined the right class with the right race and got lucky, a rogue or cleric could end up with more hit points than a fighter or barbarian. If the fighter or barbarian was particularly unlucky they could end up with hit points comparable to a wizard's.

That's only seven things I really really like about 4th Edition, but my list of complaints is shorter and I do think it is a more simplistic and intuitive system. To me it is a refinement of what I liked about 3.5 Edition. I dunno, those are just my thoughts on stuff. I'm comfortable with both systems really. I have Pathfinder stuff on my laptop here and if it proves to be a refinement of 3.5 that leaves out some of the wonky stuff I dislike from 4th Edition, well then I guess Pathfinder wins the Clint Cup.

So. What is it that I dislike about 4th Edition? Maybe that will be tomorrow's post. I want to go peruse that Pathfinder stuff and watch House.

Cryptic Mutterings

-Side with the elf, he's a decent guy.
-Night is the best time for breaking and entering if the target has been working all day.
-Make Insight checks.

Short (Inconsistencies Continued, Part 13)

The second APC came to a screeching halt, swerving sideways to present its side to the Telekinetic, rather than the vulnerable and lightly armored front end. The Telekinetic flicked the remains of a cigarette to the gravel strewn ground and winked conspiratorially at the driver of the APC before lifting a sharp-edge piece of gravel from the ground and cracking the sound barrier as he rocketed it through the driver’s face.

Bullets began flying as the soldiers exited their ride and the Telekinetic winced as several round smacked into his body armor, their force lessened but not totally absorbed by the armor and his mental shielding. His response was to lift a fistful of gravel from the ground and lob the impromptu weapon at his enemies, once more making the tremendous crack of breaking the sound barrier.

He let go a third volley and when the gravel and bodies clattered to the ground there was a single soldier left with a shattered kneecap. He stalked towards the fallen American, hurling German expletives and screaming his rage at the man. A mental thrust knocked the man’s sidearm away and the German put his palm to the soldier’s face, his mind vibrating the molecules of his hand so fast that the appendage shimmered like a heat haze as it burned a handprint into the soldier’s face. The Telekinetic rose to his feet and spat at the dead man’s face as a final insult, before moving to join the Brick.

Meanwhile, another APC had rolled into the yard in front of the Immortal; it hadn’t stopped and had almost pancaked him.

“The good doctor has brought each of a present my brothers,” said the Immortal in German. No one responded, other than the soldiers of the APC, who were firing at him.

The Immortal spread his arms wide, challenging the soldiers to bring him down and laughing as their rounds sent him stumbling and put holes in his perfect pale skin.

“You cannot end me,” he roared, and they kept firing.

The guns of the soldiers clicked empty of ammunition and the whole squad set to reloading, the Immortal ran at them. He reached them just as the first soldier finished slamming a clip home and put three bullets into the Immortal’s heart. The wound affected him no more than the various other already healing wounds had, and he smiled as he knocked the gun aside with a strong slap and pressed his other hand to the soldier’s neck.

The Immortal’s hand and arm, up to the elbow, discorporated into a grey-green cloud of particles that wound their way up the soldier’s neck and slipped into his mouth, nose, ears, and even his tear ducts. The soldier began chocking as the biomass of the Immortal clogged his lungs and cut off his air supply, this was not the end the Immortal had in mind for him though. The Immortal’s flesh began eating away at that of the soldier’s, acting like a razor against the cell walls of the man’s flesh, he unzipped the man and what was left after he reclaimed his limb was nothing but a pile of melted looking bones surrounding by pink goo that stank like meat left too long in the sun. The rest of the squad fared no better.

The Brick had everything well under control when the Telekinetic joined him. His unfeeling flesh was cracked and bloody in several places from the impact of the truck, but the bullets of the soldiers were having no more effect on his flesh than a bb gun on a two by four. He roared and bellowed like a great bear, flinging men into the air like cabers where the Telekinetic plucked them from gravity’s grip with his mind and accelerated them past the speed of sound directly into the pavement.

A short ranged comm device beeped in the Brick’s ear and he acknowledged it. It was the Doctor.

“Should one be left alive to answer questions?”

The Brick shook his head and hefted another soldier into the air while his other massive fist reached to take a gun from one nearby.

“No. These are no masterminds or members of command structure, they are peons. Cannon fodder. They have been sent like insects from the hive to harass us with their buzzing. Let them die like the drones they are.”

“I see your point, but any information-“

“No. I will not discuss with you like the man of metal. I will do as I see fit. If you see fit to take action, then do so before I tear the head from the shoulders of the last of these little insects.”

One giant finger reached up to his ear and crushed the earbud before the Doctor could issue a reply. He spoke to the Telekinetic.

“These Americans, always talking and thinking and asking question, they are diplomats and politicians, not warriors.”

The Telekinetic said “You speak truth my brother,” and then he crushed the heart of a soldier about to put a storm rifle to the back of the Brick’s neck.

When there was nothing left of all the soldiers but battered meat and gunsmoke, bravo team met in the center of the yard. The Brick produced a cigar and the Telekinetic produced cigarettes for himself and the Immortal, lighting all three tobacco products with a vibrating fingertip. Bravo team sighed as one as they enjoyed a pleasant post battle smoke.

Cigarettes and cigars were outlawed in their native land, and addiction to tobacco was considered as shameful as any other addiction or weakness, the same was true of the North here in America. The Immortal and Telekinetic smoked expensive cigarettes, not the cheap ones the Gangster and Driver shared. The Brick smoked thick cigars smuggled north from Cuba because his mangled insides and resilient organs could not even tell he was inhaling tobacco smoke or feeding it nicotine if he smoked as he Immortal and Telekinetic did, so only the most potent and thick cigars had any effect on him. It was expensive and difficult to obtain cigarettes, and more so to provide the Brick with cigars, but they smoked because it was another way to separate themselves from the country and government that had betrayed them.

With the tenets of their ritual observed, team bravo entered the fire station to confer with team alpha.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Teh Edition Warz!!!!1!

I've been through three separate editions of DnD, and have had a chance to peruse material from further back when Halflings were called hobbits and were what we'd refer to in 2nd or 3.X Edition terms as Fighter/Rogues, a time when your race defined what class you were, unless you were human. There are edition wars all over the internets, people that spew vehement arguments that 1st Edition is the only TRUE DnD, or that 4th Edition shits all over everything Gygax and Arneson ever wanted, or that it is true DnD, or that 2nd Edition was the best ruleset ever. I have an alternate opinion: YOU'RE ALL FUCKING WRONG. (Note: This is just my opinion and I could be just as wrong as you are, and likely am.)

They're all DnD. DnD is not a ruleset because the rules change. From Chainmail on into whatever 7th Edition will be, the rules have changed and they will continue to do so as different people come into whatever company runs DnD. In 6th Edition perhaps we'll be using d12s plus an average of our Mettle statistic to roll an attack roll. Who knows. I think people get confused that the rules are the game. They're not. Chainmail was a miniatures game, 2nd Edition was never particularly miniatures heavy to me, and now 4th Edition is extremely miniatures heavy. So much so that you'd think they might at least attempt to produce some decent looking minis for the damn game (they don't). Which is "truly" DnD?

Pro-tip: They all are.

DnD is not a ruleset, I think people get confused because some rulesets resemble others. In 3.X and 4th you make skill checks. In 2nd you had non-weapon proficiencies that were sort of a vague unformed precursor to feats and skills. In all editions you're rolling d20s to hit shit and d8s for longsword damage. From one edition to the next there are elements of the rules that are shared so people get confused and think the rules are the game. You think of the system you start with as DnD and when a new edition comes out you see the resemblance and feel like they've shit all over what you've come to think of as "your" DnD. Everything is new and different and all the stuff you thought of as written in stone was actually written on a paper product that was designed to make sales and when it stopped making sales or the contents of your many stone tablets became too complex and hard to manage and keep balanced as new ideas entered the system, they made new tablets.

Being a brilliant motherfucker, I will tell you what "is" the game.

Castle Greyhawk and all the head honchos of the Greyhawk setting being a rogues gallery of Gygax's old characters is the game. Elminster is the game. Elves being resistant to sleep effects is the game. Halflings being ripped off from hobbits and the lawsuits involved with those shenanigans is the game. Fighting mind flayers in the Underdark with a two-weapon wielding Drow is the game. Druids having no resemblance whatsoever to the religious sect of the same name is the game. The fact that you get the Futurama joke where Gygax rolls a d20 to determine his greeting is the game. Eric and the Dread Gazebo is the game. Being eaten by a gelatinous cube and your former party using a ten foot pole to yank your loot out of the jello is the game The game is the iconic stuff. The stuff that is a part of the shared history we all have. Its goofy color coded dragons and miniature giant space hamsters. Fuck the rules. Burn the rules down. I'll play DnD using GURPS or my dorky little card game I made up many posts ago.

That's my edition war rant, and the only point of it is that we're all still playing DnD guys. Cool off and roll some polyhedrons.

All that said, THAC0 was still fucking retarded.

Music: Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

DnD Fest Continuation

So, Bahamut and Mystra are dead, what the fuck is up with 4th Edition offing everything? Seriously, big names are dropping like flies. How long will it be before the Lady of Pain gets her metal face melted off and her city taken over by some upstart little bitch?

I am referring to the Scales of War and Spellplauge. The first is a campaign series in Dungeon Magazine, and the second is an event that bridges 3.X Forgotten Realms and 4.0 Forgotten Realms together. There's some wild and wacky stuff in there and it makes me interested to see what they do to Dark Sun. Dark Sun is already a bit off from the High Fantasy depicted in the core books, so I'm not sure what more they can do to mess it up. I'm sure they'll do something stupid like add in dragontits and gnomes, despite the gnomish race having been sacrificed so that a dragon could rise to power. I'm interested in seeing the ruined wreckage of a campaign world I always thought was almost as cool as Planescape.

Last night, or maybe the night previous to that, I came up with the conclusion of my current campaign. It meets all the criteria given to me by the group: Jeremy gets his heist at some point, John will get his steam rifle, and the group will get involved in a rebellion. Between now and the final scenario they will fight for freedom, against oppression, and have a choice to make that alters the face of The Known World forever. Now I just have to drop enough hints so that when the choice is upon them, they can make an informed decision. I'm working on the fourth scenario, almost done, I have the general outline of the fifth in my head and it is coalescing into a more solid shape as we speak, the six will be Jeremy's heist and I have a few ideas for that as well (hint: it will be combat light). I fully expect to be able to get five to ten scenarios out of the plot before reaching its final conclusion. Most of the final scenarios will be based out of Hell with the group working for or against various organizations within the city. Will they side with the law and bring a stop to the rebellion? Will they join the rebellion? Or will they side with Cenn's reavers and start murdering the rulers of Hell? Or will they go another route and work strictly for personal gain and the highest bidder and only reach this final scenario because they're in the wrong place at the wrong time?

The difficulty will be for me to try and get them to understand where events are going and what part they'll play without beating them over the head with it. Sometimes I see things differently than they do and come at them with information too subtly because I don't want a big glowing sign over every little thing they should pay attention to. We'll see how it goes. Who knows, they may throw a wrench in my plans and force me to abandon this plot line.

Its good to have a campaign outline.

Music: Death is the Answer - Early Man

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teh Spoilerz!!1!!!

Shawn and I do this thing while we're texting with exclamation points and deliberately make a point of putting ones in among the exclamation points even though the keys are far away from each other (at least on my phone, and now it has occurred to me that he does not have a Rumor, so his ones could in fact be the same key as his exclamation points). I enjoy such things.

I'm having some scenario issues. I have the Kusseth scenario pretty much done and came up with a neat idea for a "tough fight" inspired in part by Mike Krahulik's (Gabe of PA) freefall scenario. It is in no way as awesome as that encounter or as unique, its sort of a vertical chase battle is all. I dunno, its something different, not mold breaking, but definitely a bit spicier than my utterly mundane horizontal battles of the past. Its also entirely possible that they will not engage in it because of certain choices they make. I'm getting along very well with the Kusseth scenario, it is very much more akin to the second scenario where the guys walk around doing shit talking to folks, rather than storming a former dwarven outpost and then having to fight their way out when the current brigand denizens returned from their evening business. I like it and its becoming very much what I want Kusseth to be, the difficulty for me is giving them a believable hook to head to Hell, not just "The DM wants us to go to Hell so we go there." For my part, I need their characters to be motivated to go there independent of the metagame intent. I somehow need to make Hell more appealing than Kusseth, which is impossible, so I just need to hit them with the "There's more for you to do in Hell." bat this scenario, or run them out of Kusseth with the law yapping at their heels. I'm also pretty pleased with the Traith scenes, he's there, but he's not showboating and his part to play is short. I get to go, "hehe, there he is, my guy." but not steal the focus from the players. I do that plenty with a chunk of the thing being completely about Spineplate.

On to the writing it out. My thoughts for the fifth scenario were much like the third scenario, the guys get involved in something inadvertently on their way to another destination. The premise was going to be that they roll up on a town in lieu of a traveler's rest. (Or did we agree to retcon those into being called traveler's roosts?) The town is bigger than Kemmel, as far as population and residences. Kemmel was a bigger border town, but a lot of it was taken up by the foundry and warehouses and much of its population spent the majority of their time in the mines so it was hard to convey it as a bigger city, and Mesl was essentially a barracks the size of a small town with no real non-soldier population. Its a bigger town, the claims to fame are potatoes and pigs. Feral pigs are fairly common all across Kusseth and pork is a main staple of the diet for the country. The town is in pretty bad disarray, the potatoes are uncared for and the pigs have basically the run of their pens. It looks like any deserted border town in a western, except there is blood and body parts everywhere. The whole shtick of the scenario is that somewhere nearby is some manner of malicious sorcerer type that was run out of town for a spell going screwy (as they are prone to do in this hemisphere of my world), as is typical he/she/it has decided to take vengeance and is plaguing the town with zombie attacks. It is nearing nightfall, which is the typical time of attack, and the PCs have the option of getting the Hell out or sticking around to fortify the town. Basically this portion of the scenario would involve Skill Challenges to put up barricades, get argumentative townsfolk to shut the fuck up and get to work, and to pry necessary supplies out of the greedy hands of merchants. Then next portion is the attack itself, which would consists of a endless stream of minion heavy combats with a few set pieces with memorable scenes or foes, something in the vein of Left 4 Dead where you're just mowing down enemies until you hit a Tank or Witch or whatever and shit rapidly goes south if you're not on your toes. The next portion is clean up, and making sure everything is dead and then either getting the Hell out of town, or attempting to locate the lurking sorcerer.

Its definitely something I have not done a million times before, which is a theme I'm trying to hang onto in this campaign. I'm not sure if its working, as no one has really given me feedback other than the fact that they like the variation of the second scenario and how there was more than just endless fights to do. My issue with this particular scenario is that it kind of needs to be cinematic, in a video game or movie this would be a grand adventure, but DnD is not exactly cinematic. There isn't heart pounding action or shit jumping out at you. In game, in your imagination it is, but I think the disconnect between us and our characters is too great for that sort of thing to work.

To make an interlude and basically paraphrase a conversation I had with Tony earlier today, its why Ravenloft would never work in our group. Ravenloft is an awesome concept, the most evil, grim, and dark place in the cosmos with the most evil, sadistic, and just plain mean bastards imaginable all cooped up into one demiplane. Everything is grimdark and dying and good is smudged and dirty so much as to be inseparable from neutral. On paper it looks good, like my scenario. I can paint the picture of women being raped and good men dying scared and alone and babies being eaten by shit without name or defense against. There are even rules mechanics to track how fucked up your characters get by being exposed to this filth so often. I can make floors creak and creatures stalk the players in the night and make villains laugh as their psychotic ploys reach fruition despite the best efforts of the players, who can at best gain only a half step against the forces of evil, if that. I cannot disconnect the part of your brain that hears my words, combines it with the fact that you are moving a plastic figure across a laminated piece of paper and rolling a d6 to determine how scared you are of Clint's fake laugh, and decides that all of this is (to quote Jeremy at one point) "patently ridiculous." Basically, I cannot build fake tension, I can paint a picture, but I can't make you buy into it enough or get you invested in your character enough to really care that there is something out there in the night killing shit while it waits for your eyelids to droop for a second too long to give it the time it needs to come at you. As it stands, the group has been walking around with a metal monstrosity made by a race of undead that supposedly have animated it via rituals that involve pieces of dead shit being bound up within it, except that is lacks the word echoing multiple speaker voice others of its kind supposedly possess, and once in battle its chest was cracked open by a blow and sparks of electricity shot out of it. No one cares, no one has asked it anything like, "So, you're metal. What's that like?" or "What'd you do to end up in Beltan?"

This is not a rant against the guys. I like the guys and we are all having fun, at least I am. This is not a complaint or a mockery, this is an explanation. The guys don't do anything unless they're told to. They don't make Insight checks when someone their characters have never met before asks them to go do something so see if maybe they're not being told everything, they don't ever use Diplomacy to barter or get a better reward. They just go and do what they're told to and assume they're doing the right thing or what they should be doing. In my experience they don't think or act on anything unless you beat them about the head with it, and that doesn't work with Ravenloft. To go, "Oh, by the way, you guys should be scared now." totally goes against the idea of a horror campaign. The point of a horror campaign is to fear the threats out there because they mean a gruesome end for the character you've grown to love, you can't be told to fear for your PC, you need to be shown that you should and feel it. You're tense because every roll of the dice could mean you beloved character's mind just gave up and now he's trying to eat your companions while they sleep, or something just ate his mind and crawled in the empty skull and now you have to play that thing and do so without letting the other player's know. Nobody invests themselves into their characters enough for that to matter in our group. That's not how we roll.

Now, that's sort of a side issue to why I don't think the zombie attack idea will work. Its a neat enough concept and I think everyone will appreciate it, but I think fundamentally it will just be the guys going to Fight A, Fight B, and Fight C. No one is going to picture themselves standing atop a barricade putting rounds into zombie faces, or screaming at citizens to hold the line and have a bit of steel in their spine or some other inspiring warcry. They're just going to make their attack rolls and their Diplomacy or Intimidate rolls and apply the appropriate penalties and modifiers, because that is the game. Perhaps its my fault that they don't see that, or perhaps they do and just don't make a big deal out of it. I guess when I see a twenty rolled the impression I get from everyone is, "Cool." and not , "YES! D'Alton just removed that dwarf's spine, bring on the next fucking stumpy, I'll gut every kneebiter it takes to get out of this fucking hole!" I dunno, perhaps the scenario would be amazing and I've blown my load by not surprising the guys with it and left it here for two of them to read. I have another idea and I think it will work just as well.

Music: Murmaider II: The Water God - Dethklok