Monday, May 30, 2011

Magic: The Recidivism

Back in junior high, I used to play the fuck out of this game called Magic: The Gathering. I enjoyed it, primarily for the flavor text and the fact that it had goblins and dragons and such in it. My friend Jason used to be big into it, I saw him paging through a big book of cards one day on the bus and I saw some nifty artwork and he explained that it was a card game and you bought cards and built decks to fight against one another with. I asked him if there were any dragons in it and he showed me a picture of one. 

Eventually I got into the game as well. Now, in junior high, I had no money. My parents were extremely thrifty in the department of non-book entertainments for me as a youth. No video games, no allowance to buy video games, and my collection of toys was somewhat motley and limited. I was not rolling in expendable income you might say, however, I was on Ritalin and was issued a few dollars for lunch money. 

A side effect of Ritalin for me was appetite suppressant, so I was never hungry. I think in three years of junior high, I can probably count the times I actually ate lunch in the cafeteria on one hand. I just went to the library and read, which is where I met Eric and Jeremy and all of them and we all got into DnD, and Magic.

As a side note, I bitch and complain about ADHD and how my parents drugged me rather than deal with me as a human being and that sort of thing, but thank Dog for all the drugging of the children. I don't think I would have been so introverted and ended up reading Dragonlance and learning about DnD and meeting Eric and Jeremy without my parents drugging me. 

To continue, I skipped lunch for about three years and bought Magic cards with the money. However, my parents finally found out and I had to conceal my spending because I assured them that I was in fact eating at school. Which was simple enough, Jason and I would just walk to the Stadium and buy far more cards than we needed. Huzzah. Sometimes, I forget things like this and when I remember, I think perhaps my mother was right when she repeatedly assured me that I was a lying little shit. 

I have an issue with collection. It is not enough to have a book or card or whatever. I need to have the set. I am bad. If I have one book in a series, I must have all of them. Thus the dozen or so Dresden Files novels on my shelves and the majority of the Essentials collection of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition books. I can resist this compulsion pretty well, nowadays. When I was in junior high and high school, not so much. I obsessively bought packs and boosters and everything. I didn't care that my decks were shit, what mattered was that I was within a few dozen cards of having the complete Chronicles or Fallen Empires or Homelands set. 

Mind you, Homelands and Fallen Empires are widely regarded as the shittiest two Magic sets in existence, but they were two I focused on. I bought Chronicles obsessively, until they stopped selling boosters, because it was very mythic and had all the Summon Legend multi-colored cards, and the Elder Dragon Legends. That's right, I had a Nicol Bolas from before he was a planeswalker. I also traded Eric ten levels for his DnD character for an Arcades Sabbath card. Heh. 

When Urza's Saga came out, I got hardcore into purchasing that and again went into collection mode. Later, I stopped buying and playing after Jason kind of fell by the wayside. Later, when Scourge was on its way out of production and Jason and I kind of reconnected and he mentioned that after selling all of his old cards, he was back to playing again, I tried to collect all of Scourge, which got hard, because it was ending its production cycle and new sets were coming out. 

I focused on collection, that is my addiction. I like to own sets of things. I buy DVDs and books so that I can complete my collection of books and movies I like. I download pdfs so that I can have a complete set of DnD books, not because each book has awesome stuff I like in it. Anyway, Fred and Martel started playing Magic, and it has been...difficult for me. Game stores of any kind are a bad place for me, they are where I do the things I will come to regret once I venture back out into the light of day. 

I have spent ten dollars and sixty cents on the game so far, and that was to buy a deck that is essentially a more perfect version  of a deck I've loved since my attempts to collect Scourge. My deck building is much more mature now. I am more concerned about the merits of cards than about having a set and I am slightly more competent than "Let's throw everything cool in the color red into the deck!". I still really want to start buying a set, but I have resisted so far, partly because the most recently released set, New Phyrexia, is the last in a three set block, and later this year a whole new set will be released. It is called Innistrad and looks suitably gothic and the tagline is "Horror Lurks Within."

I'm pretty pleased with my decks so far. I have a black discard deck, a red goblin/direct damage deck, and a green horde/big creature deck. I think I need one more card for my discard deck and it will pretty much be perfect, however, it is only really good against a single opponent and our three person battles make it more difficult to implement. The red deck is fun, but needs a lot of tweaking. The green is good, I like the way it plays and it uses a lot of Fallen Empires cards, and I love the mechanics of those cards. I think I might focus on land access and big creatures though, and downplay the horde elements of it. 

I find that I prefer single color decks I guess, you can really focus on the core concept of your deck, and it eliminates the difficulty of having good cards in your hand, but not the right combination of mana to put them into play. I think what I am going to end up doing is create a deck for each color of magic and kind of try them all out. I've always favored black and green with red being a close third. I just have a hard time coming up with anything when I look at blue and white. I have played some white weenie decks, but there isn't much appeal to me in them. Blue's elements of control and denial interest me, but  is has so many control and denial options that I have a hard time picking and choosing and it is hard to balance control and denial vs. the need for creatures to fend off/deal damage to the enemy players. Oh well.

I guess we'll see how long this fad lasts, and perhaps I'll post about it again. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


We played through the AD&D Tomb of Horrors 3.5 version with some Pathfinder characters. It did not go super well. Originally it was supposed to be seven players entering the Tomb. By the week of the event, two guys bailed due to work, and a third had to cancel last minute, and a fourth had to go about two hours in. 

They explored one room, two frescoes, and a hallway full of pit traps in that time. There was a gargoyle in there as well, it dealt like 169 damage to Jeremy's Rogue over the course of two rounds. He died. Lance and John very creatively defeated the mutant gargoyle, with a combination of a second level laughing spell and a storm of lightning bolts. Everyone seemed to enjoy the savagely difficult fight, but walking around gave them a kind of analysis paralysis where I told them their surroundings and said, "What do you do?" and they stared blankly at me, terrified that touching a door would unleash death. Which did not stop Jeremy from just yanking on a lever he found in a trapped chest built into a fresco. Luckily, his Reflex save was good enough to leap away from the pit trap he opened under his feet. 

They ran into some trouble when they encountered a magical arrow trap that fired arrows every round and Eric the Monk and Jeremy the Rogue decided that there was no way they could deal with it other than to do nothing on their turns. They figured out that it was a magical trap though and everything ended up being alright.

No one really communicated with each other at all as to what they were going to be, so John ended up making a Druid with no real healing abilities and Lance came as a Sorcerer and not a Cleric like he had said, so the group had no healing and they had to rest outside of the Tomb after the fight with the gargoyle. Lance was pretty useful, but I think overall that the Tomb would be easier if they had a Wizard, that class has so much utility for a place like the Tomb. I mean, a Sorcerer works fine, but a utility Sorcerer just doesn't have the same feel as a lightning bolt flinging fireball dropping draconic bloodline sorcerer. 

Also, evidently Sorcerer bloodlines are too complex a concept for Mr. Butch-Ass-College-Educated-Worked-For-Boeing-Engineer-That-Doesn't-Own-Graph-Paper-Or-A-Ruler. You know who you are, bitch. Hehe.

Overall, it could have gone better, but things come up and shit happens and the majority of the group seems to be interested in wandering back in to see if they can conquer the evil of the Tomb. Hopefully we end up being able to schedule it again, I'd really like to see how they deal with some of the more interesting and tricksy traps in the place.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Labyrinth Lord

Specifically the Advanced Edition Companion.

I purchased the book first, rather than the normal Labyrinth Lords rules, kind of because I am sort of nostalgic for 1st Edition AD&D, despite having never played it once in my life. I've spoken before of old school clones and how Labyrinth Lord really stuck with me and how I decided to attempt running something with the Advanced Editon Companion version of the game because it is based on 1st Edition AD&D. Anyway, I bought this book first from Lulu, because I felt like it.

The first thing I did was hand the book to Jeremy for him to assess the paper and binding and layout of the book. His initial thoughts were basically as follows: "I have no complaints, it appears competent." Then he handed it back to me and we looked in the monster section to see if there were any boobs, and there are. This is a point in the book's favor. 

I like the cleanliness of the book, everything is black and white and there isn't a whole lot of distracting art or full page color drawings of dragonbewbs or anything like that. The book just looks clean to me, I don't know how else to describe it. The fonts are very appealing as well, though I cannot recall their names at this precise moment. I'll likely add in an edit after the fact containing that info. 

Overall, I am pleased with the purchase. The book is exactly what I was expecting to get, and outside of adding in stuff like ascending attack rolls and armor classes, I basically plan on using the book as is for my Old School campaign. This review isn't about the rules, it is basically AD&D and of you have experience with that system, you either like it or don't at this point. This review is about the book, and I am pleased with the purchase. However, I have one complaint. The book is one hundred and sixty pages. Fine, it isn't the main ruleset, I expect it to be slim. 

Interestingly enough, the main rulebook is like 144 pages or some such, heh. 

However, his one hundred and sixty page book sells for thirty-four dollars though, plus roughly ten for shipping and handling. That is exorbitant. Worse than WotC's madcap pricing system of the mentally disturbed. Mind you, the book and the main Labyrinth Lord rules can be legally downloaded from Goblinoid Games for free, so it is only the insanity of a book collector like myself that makes the purchase mandatory. Regardless, the price point of sale is somewhat disconcerting to me. Nonetheless, I am still pleased with the purchase and will likely pay the same price for the smaller main rulebook. I'm kind of getting excited about this idea. Wee!

Edit After The Fact:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Walking Tall

I took a walk the other day. This isn't super notable, people walk all the time. I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. I very much love the physical act of working out, but I hate how boring it is. I can't exercise to videos, because I find the people and programs boring and annoying. Listening to energetic music like Mindless Self Indulgence or The Blood Brothers or various metal bands can alleviate some of the mind numbing boredom, and podcasts work quite well too.

The best thing I've found though, if I can maintain the discipline and focus necessary to do it, is to explore my stories and my DnD plots while exercising and kind of separate the mind from the body. Most physical activity during workouts is repetitive and doesn't require a lot of forethought or consideration in my experience, at least not much thought beyond, "Is doing ten more crunches/push ups/etc going to leave me weak and groaning tomorrow?" Back to thinking. This is a great thing because my mind is engaged during the workout and I'm not doing the mental equivalent of mumbling "Blurg." for forty minutes or so. It is also great because it gets shit done.

While my ability to plan and adapt with my Hekinoe campaign has impressed even me at times, I am not what you'd call an ideal planner. I tend to start things, like my stories, willy nilly with little thought for the eventual outcome of events. While I'm not going to expose the whole behind the curtain situation of Hekinoe, suffice it to say that sometimes, I don't have everything planned out and am forced to adapt and alter the way things interact in the story of my campaign. 

So on this walk, I spent a lot of time thinking about Hekinoe and my formerly titled The Last Blade story, a name which continues to make less and less sense as the years go on, considering the major alterations to the naming and canon of the background material. Anyway.

During this walk, I was able to come up with a pretty epic (in scope) capstone for this particular campaign. This capstone for the campaign is entirely dependent upon my players paying attention to their surroundings and being willing to venture outside the walls of Meroteth, and perhaps the borders of The Known World. These are two things that were not exactly their forte during the previous campaign. Again, I don't want to allow anyone too much of a view behind the curtain, but I have a fifty year timeline for events that occur over the next fifty years across the face of Hekinoe (including places they have never even heard of that have not even been listed in the wiki, I am adamant that this world is not on pause until the players show up, and stuff happens whether or not they are there to see it) and how those events can be affected by or affect the players and how their actions or inactions alter the outcome of this campaign finale event. 

While the players ignoring the epic plot is not ideal, I have contingency plans for that as well. If there is no way to involve them with this plot (at least not without giving them a wise and mysterious quest giver, which I will not do), well, the consequences are dire, but I think I am ok with the potential outcome. Shit happens. If they do get involved with the epic plot, and fail, well, that would be bad. I have a contingency plot for that too, heh, and it is probably even more epic and kind of awesome. Jeremy would get a kick out of it I think.

Now, not all of the above is a result of my focused, undistracted, thought process during my walk. It was the walk that allowed me to weave it all together into an end game though, and I think how it all gelled together is pretty cool. I'm pleased with the whole process and what came of it. 

Back to Keroen Skathos for a moment. I spent some time thinking about him as well. If you've been paying attention to the blog and some of the stuff I've posted here, specifically, The One-Eyed Man story, you know by now that Keroen Skathos = Cenn the Reaver. If I've spoiled everything for you now, bummer, you should have payed closer attention to details. Hehe.

There is this one detail of Keroen Skathos, a defining feature that I spent some time thinking about. He has this thick, curved line of scar tissue on his forehead, kind of starting between his eyebrows and arcing over above his left eye. When he gets angry or the bloodlust comes upon him, the scar splits open and begins dripping blood and shit gets all balls to the wall bloody and dismembered. 

A long time ago I decided that Keroen Skathos received that wound as an injury from an ally. I noted that and saved it in the labyrinthine areas of my mind where I store a wiki of shit that has no good place to put it in the written world. After noting it, I proceeded on with the story and didn't spend one second ever thinking about the details of how the scar got there, beyond who put it on his face in the first place. I just figured that all those niggling little details would get figured out when I eventually wrote the story that the injury happens in.

Spoiler Alert: I never wrote that story. At least not beyond the first four chapters or so. Heh.

Seven years or so later, on a walk the other day, I settled upon the details of the injury, why it was put there in the first place by the ally, and what its overall purpose is for modern Keroen Skathos. It was this line of thought that eventually led my mind into the lines of thought that came up with the finale event/plot/whatever of  this current Hekinoe campaign.

So there is a story about me and my fat ass and some walking and planning I did. Huzzah.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Would Asking For A Do Over Be Inappropriate At This Juncture?

Just a heads up, we're taking the long way around on this one. I've probably mentioned before that I have/had/whatever ADHD. Now, last year, I did a bit of research into ADHD and what it is and what it means. I didn't find much agreement on what it is, it varies from being considered a precursor to/indicator of bi-polar and personality disorders to being considered complete bullshit. Of the theories and such that I read, and to be honest, some were found on Wikipedia, those that believed it was real, I found a general agreement on one thing. The "thing" is the indication that people suffering from ADHD are developmentally challenged. I read a few variations on that idea,  I say again that most of this research was done via the internet(s), and there was something of a consensus that this developmental retardation is somewhere in the range of four to eight years. Essentially, aspects of an ADHD twenty something's mentality could have more in common with a fourteen or fifteen year old's.*

So, lately I've been missing writing. Don't get me wrong, I write like a motherfucker. Constantly. It is all DnD writing though. I'm building backgrounds and jotting down ideas for plot hooks and trying to rekindle my banked love of Hekinoe. Anyway, I've been thinking things over and I realized I miss writing for the sake of writing. I don't harbor dreams of being published or anything. I just get stories in my head and I enjoy writing them out. 

Specifically, I've been missing Keroen Skathos and writing about him. I miss the Nel and the fantastical nonsense of their lives and wars. I miss poor, tired, rotted Nostathon. This nostalgia has made me think about my story lately. It is definitely a flawed thing, but I do love it, and I had a hoot writing it. 

I started writing it a while ago. Seven years, I think, when I was twenty or twenty-one. I never intended for Keroen Skathos to be unimaginably powerful or unstoppable. I never intended from him to be anything other than a death god or avatar of war. I only started the tale with an  image of the sleeping king woken once more. Then the concept of the death god with a vow of pacifism and the split personality issues arose. The only real intent I had at the beginning was to show Keroen Skathos throwing off all his bullshit and realizing the truth about himself:  he doesn't give a shit about anything other than the Sokarnel, bloodshed, and the Feronel. 

Coming back around. If I was twenty-one when I started writing it, assuming there is any truth to the idea of slowed down  maturity/development, I was mentally sixteen or seventeen when I started writing the story. I was immature is what I am saying here. So looking back, it makes sense that my story ended up being a nonsensical wish fulfillment story where Keroen Skathos is badass and indestructible. 

Now that I've had a few years to think about it, I can happily say I would have done things differently. I've also had some pretty sensible advice from several corners as well, and that helps too. The main issue is Keroen's power level. His is too badass and indestructible. Any setback is only temporary and requires about five seconds for him to get around. If I could do it over, I would make his powers more definable. I would have a kind of outline for what he could accomplish at various levels of power and what would knock him back a step. I talk several times about how taxing it is for him to teleport, but there isn't really a discernible decrease in his power. 

The story has kind of become its own organism, I can tweak this scene or that, but to alter it in any meaningful way would necessitate a level of overhauling I rarely find myself prepared or inclined to do.  Oh well, you live and learn, and hopefully end up a better writer than you were seven years ago. 

*I will not be citing any of my "research" with references here, it is all shit I read on the internet that could (more than likely) be complete and utter nonsense. I'm just spitballin here. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

4th Edition: A Tally

This post could also be called "Options"

Classes: 64
Races: 40
Feats: 3,066
Items: 9,014
Paragon Paths: 547
Epic Destinies: 107

This information is taken from a list that a recent episode of Critical Hits spoke of. The list includes setting specific stuff like Thri-Kreen, the Spellplague powers, and so on. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

It Sure Got A Little Grimdark There, Didn't It?

So, last night (last month), Jeremy said some things to me, and those things have made me think a bit. One is an exact quote, "Also, are you still upset about Kethranmeer's death? I am tired of feeling guilty over it, my friend." The other is a paraphrase of something he said, and the gist of it is that Hekinoe's level of grimness and darkness are exhausting for him. He made it sound like my beloved Hekinoe was a chore to adventure in. It sounded like he wasn't having fun with it, like he was sick of it. This is not the way I want one of my favorite players to feel. 

Did I intend for Hekinoe to be a dark and gritty place full of danger and adventure? Yes. Did I intend for it to be somewhat unconventional in its portrayal of fantasy? Yes. Did I intend for it to be grimdark? No. I sought dirt and grunge and grit when I decided to set adventures in this realm of mine. But grimdark is going too far. Grimdark is depressing and melancholy with only the laughter of thirsting gods to keep you company. 

Here's the thing, I am too hard on my players. They goof off, kill people they shouldn't, forget important details despite me telling them to write things down. This is what players do, I do it on the extraordinarily rare occasions that I've been able to play a character. 

Does this mean they should get a free pass? No. If they bury someone alive, and condemn him to either starve or suffocate to death, and he survives, he will come for them. If they kill a child, parents will seek vengeance. No, if they fuck up royally, they'll pay for it. There must be consequences for a player's actions, otherwise, their actions have no meaning and we might as well railroad shit or sit around a table listening to me tell a story. However, I need to stop reminding them of how stupid they are, how many details they've missed, or how often I tried to give them a chance to do something or change something, or what have you. 

We're here to have fun, to relax. Grimdark is not relaxing. Grimdark is depressing. Yes, when Eric uses his blowtorch to weld a door shut and entomb some enemies, we should laugh. It is hilarious and creative and it is an imaginary game. We all laughed when it happened. Yes, Xein is evil for doing it, but it was pretty funny at the time, and I need to recognize the fun we have instead of hammering the guys with how evil and awful they are as humanoid beings. 

Their actions have consequences, but I don't need to relentlessly remind them about all the stupid shit they've done. It is like writing, don't tell. show. I don't need to tell Eric that Xein is evil and Jeremy that D'alton is an apathetic sociopath. I should show this stuff in game by showing them the consequences of their actions. We need to be able to laugh about our adventures outside of the game, not argue with one another about the relative evil of our characters and whether or not people properly mourned my NPC. Showing the guys that the Rankethlek is pissed is appropriate, me going on at length here about how sad I am about it, isn't terribly productive. 

That said, if the guys have gross misconceptions about events and attitudes and things their characters would know, I need to inform them. When Eric says that Xein is a good guy and not a murderer, I do need to remind him about the entombment and the murdered Fell Human frat dudes out for a lark. I only need to remind him, I don't need to go on at length via text and email. 

This is a fine line I have to walk. I cannot be lenient when they just decide to mass murder people or allow themselves to be used like pawns, but we still need to be able to have fun in the game, because it is a game and they have a right to it being fun for them just as much as I have that right. We're a team and we're here to help each other have fun. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Perhaps There's One Too Many Irons For A Fire Of This Size...

I've been worrying lately that I am spreading myself a hair too thin. While I don't actually feel like I'm spread too thin, I worry that it is a possibility. It really isn't an issue of burn out, I think I am over that fear. I am definitely interested in all things DnD and not too concerned about too much of a good thing. I think I've stabilized my love of DnD enough to where I can manage it like an  adult and not act like an obsessive little child. Mostly. Anyway, I try to keep my interests broad enough that I'm not dwelling on DnD for hours and hours at a time. So I have three, possibly four, things on my plate in terms of gaming. I kind of keep getting ideas and wanting to do this or that, and it is hard for me to tell if it is a good and fun idea, or if it is just a waste of mine, and other people's, time. What is going on is that I am basically working on three campaigns at the moment, and they are as follows:

1) Hekinoe: I was in a funk about this place, but I think I've come through to the other side. I like this place, or I would have stopped writing stuff for it by now. There is a post coming up later this week that kind of goes over some of my thoughts about Hekinoe. Suffice it to say that I am ready to come out of the grumpy closet and play with the normal kids. 

2) Labyrinth Lord: I did a bunch of research into older editions of the game and their clones, and I kind of started to find some stuff I am fond of. I really got infected by all the old school love and the somewhat minimalist approach to gaming that the older editions allow. I mean, you can make a comprehensive character sheet on one side of college ruled notebook paper. Anyway, Labyrinth Lord won through out of the clones I've perused, specifically the Advanced Edition Companion, which I guess mimics 1st Edition AD&D. Anyway, I like it and I began scribing a new campaign setting (in pencil on notebook paper!). I don't know if it has any longevity, but it seems like it will be a fun diversion for Jeremy and I and a few others to engage in. 

3) Fourthcore: I am fascinated by this concept, just an unrelentingly tough and deadly series of adventures. No mercy, no dice fudging, no straight forward fights. Everything is about resource management and lateral and critical thinking and making very good guesses. Skill challenges turn into fights without warning while fights turn into skill challenges while a trap is going off while a blizzard rages around you, and the dragon is still eating the Cleric while it all happens. Death is frequent and brutal and occurs with no warning, save vs. death happens, and you like it. There is never a point where you can just turn off your brain and fiddle with your iDevice till your next turn rolls around, you have to constantly be engaged with what is going on around you. The magic loot is bigger and badder and still doesn't mean you'll survive every dungeon. It is so brutal, so challenging, so effing metal! I want to go there.

I do actually feel the need to ramble about Fourthcore for a bit. At the moment, we're settled on trying out a Ravenloft setting for the adventure, but though I love Ravenloft, I must confess that I don't feel like the setting is a perfect fit. Ravenloft is very dark and scary and dangerous, but it is more about fear and horror and stories of evil and torment, than it is about ultra hard encounters and traps. It is gothic horror and is about ambiance and the unknown. I am committed to a Fourthcore style 4th Edition campaign, but I don't know if Ravenloft lends itself to a campaign setting more or less about time and resource management. Every time I crack open my Sword & Sorcery Ravenloft books, all I can think is "This would be so awesome...if we were playing Pathfinder." which is a problem, because Lance and Shawn and Jeremy love them some 4th Edition, and I do too, and I want to play it. 

I just don't know where to go with this idea, I can stay with Ravenloft and kind of see how it goes once we get there (after we're done with Gamma World, which could be forever from now, heh), or I can go back to the drawing board (a place I probably like too much). Lance, Jeremy, Shawn, and Fred are all pretty agreeable guys, so I doubt they'd ragequit if I switched the setting up. Fred is more of a fan of Ravenloft than of 4th Edition, but I don't think he would pass up an excuse to game with cool people. Probably. I'm feeling a lot of creativity within me since I started working on that Labyrinth Lord notebook and I keep coming back to making my own campaign setting based off of PoLand. 

...fucking monkey-tits! I just came up with a killer idea for a campaign setting in PoLand, and it would still allow me to utilize all this Heroes of Shadow and Gloomwrought material that I am purchasing. I blame Erevan, the fucking nitwit. 

Back to what I was saying, I feel the urge to create, and though the role-playing and setting of Fourthcore campaigns tend to take a back seat to the action, I still wouldn't mind flexing the creative muscles, even if it is just to give voice to my interpretation of PoLand.

Edit After The Fact: Yeah, I guess we're going to play 4th Edition in PoLand. Hopefully I can successfully Fourthcore it up, and hopefully they enjoy Fourthcore. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Magic Items 101

I am trying to get back into the saddle in terms of writing 101s again. I have been distracted of late over some Hekinoe irritations and some side projects I am working on. I'm going to start with something relatively simple and perhaps uninteresting. Regardless, it is a starting point and an attempt to get back to expanding on Hekinoe. 

Magic items. I've spoken before about how common magic items are in  the Fell Peaks, specifically and especially in Hell/Meroteth. Magic items degrade over time, sorcery is unreliable, and while my guys have been lucky, at any time, things could have gone horrifically wrong. Magic items are very much like that. The longer they exist, the more unreliable the sorcery involved in their creation gets and they essentially become a ticking time bomb, with every use drawing them closer to catastrophic failure. 

Naturally, this unreliability makes magic items far less desirable. Additionally, who needs a wand of magic missile that might implode and cause you to lose a hand or face, when you can just pull iron and put two in a thug's brain pan?

Anyway, magic items are cheap in Meroteth. Have been for the longest time. I have even said that they can be purchased at twenty-five to fifty percent cheaper than normal. Why is this? The spells required to create stuff are the same. It basically amounts to the fact that only the desperate are willing to use a ticking time bomb, there needs to be some benefit to sorcerous items, and that benefit is cheapness. Sorcerers and magical tradesmen simply cannot afford to charge full price for their magic items. 

How do these alchemists and enchanters combat this narrow margin of profit? Shoddy materials and sub par craftsmanship. Gone is the era of gleaming blades borne into battle by witch kings and noble heroes with strong jawlines, not that there ever really was an era of that sort in Hekinoe. This is an era of thugs with tin +1 blades that are good for one mugging before shattering against a mark's bone and becoming ensorcelled shrapnel. Gahz'zharra's leather armor wasn't well made tanned bovine hide, not even pig. Nope, his armor was poorly stitched together one hundred percent rat hide. 

Magical craftsmen also cut costs by doing their own forge and crafting work. So we have amateur (or downright incompetent) smiths making tin +1 swords or taxidermists attempting to turn a pile of snake scales into a an amulet of natural armor +1. Often times, you will get a collection or sorcerers with  shops near each  other, with each sorcerer type knowing a very specialized set of spells and skills and sort of perfecting their niche of the mass produced sorcerous item trade and the sorcerers kind of band together in a guild of sorts so they can have some variety to their goods. 

How do these sorcerous craftsmen keep themselves safe from their trade? They keep their stock small and barely enough to meet the demands of their customers. This practice also creates a sort of false demand for their product as well. They line their storerooms in granite and iron and keep the doors bolted and deep beneath their stores. They also don't live anywhere near their stores and they keep their stores in areas of the city with low property value in the first place.

All that said, there are shops that go in the other direction. There are magical tradesmen that do sell gleaming blades that glow with sorcerous light. They craft their blades and amulets and armor out of the finest and toughest materials. Blades of wolf-iron, armors crafted from actual dragonscales or beast hide from The Beast Lands. These craftsmen do not mass produce +1 blades. Each object produced is unique, bracers that deflect arrows, swords that cleave head from shoulders, necklaces that produce explosions, and so on. These objects are crafted from the finest materials, and these materials hold on to the enchantments they possess with far greater tenacity than the tin and copper and rat skin of other enchanters. These rare tradesman with their fancy materials and their slightly more reliable product find that they are able to demand far more for their goods than the much more common back alley sorcerers with their tin swords. 

I know I've spoken of magic items prior to this point, so here is a little bit more about this industry. Huzzah for 101s!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A - Z For The Hell Of It

So there was this thing on the blog circuit, people are doing this ay through zee thing where they talk about something, a single topic. Like yew for undead or something. I had no idea what it was about. Eventually, I realized that people were doing an ay to zee list of stuff about their campaign worlds or wikis and whatnot. This is relevant, not because I am jumping on the bandwagon, but because I need a bit of focus to get back into Hekinoe So, the things I've added so far:

-Argut, Analytical Engine
-Black Souled Monks of the Necropolis, Braldenon
-Cenn the Reaver, Carte Academy
-Descending Night Fowls, Dragons
-Ethryll, Erasmas Goltha
-Fremwightan, Frankel'mer (Cult of)
-Gunderson & Sons, Giants
-Hook blade, hundlefolk
-Iaonen Trees, Ionesgen Plant
-Jehboos (The Cult of), Jack (Smiling)
-Kussethian Military Technologies, Konaleknosts
-Laram of Volungshemle, Lightning gun
-Merenelel Trees, Marteleric
-Niht Clan, Nyeklaeon
-Orcunraytrel, Orcunraytrel (the Black Mountain of)
-The Prisoner's Coalition, Patlanteans
-Quails, Quelerel blade
-Reavers Afire
-Savage Doc Managan, Savage Blade
-Traith Harris
-Ursines (Great)
-Witch Hunters
-Xein's Mom
-Zauber'konig (Nakmander)

Edit After The Fact: I finished the ay to zee cycle. Also, to be clear, these are not all being added as whole pages. Some are just a paragraph of text added into an already existing document, and others are in fact brand new pages with several paragraphs of information. Weee.

Further Editings: Started on the second ay to zee cycle.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gamma Worlded

So Lance, Shawn, Jeremy, and I played some Gamma World the other day. It went quite well I think. We got about as far as Lance, Shawn, and I did when we went to PAX, and it took us about two hours or so. I got a little tipsy on some mead and became easily distracted by shiny things and loud noises, but we had a lot of fun, and that is the important thing. Also, nobody died, which is awesome.

I think Gamma World has a lot of potential to be just a hoot. We goofed off a lot and had a lot of fun I think. The game is pretty rules light, so it is fairly easy to manage your powers and keep track of what is going on. Shawn was able to game with us in person, so that was pretty cool.

My little six dollar webcam gave Lance a pretty good view of the battlefield, unfortunately, Skype does not support free video conference calls, so yeah. I'm not sure how we'll work around the issue of mapping in the future. I am not entirely sure how to resolve that issue. For real, I don't know what to do. I suppose I can scan them and pass them along to Lance and Shawn, I guess we'll try something.

Taking pictures of the Alpha Mutations and Omega Technology cards and text messaging them to Lance worked quite well. My phone takes surprisingly good pictures with a good resolution. However, it is slightly time consuming to draw a mutation and a technology, aim, get a good picture with no glare, then send it. I dunno, even with that, it only took us two or so hours to get through two encounters and some skill use and tomfoolery, so it isn't a horrific delay. 

Gamma World should is fun, and we definitely have enough material to give me time to get some Ravenloft stuff ready. We started out the game with Shawn mowing down a mutant pig man with a pickup truck and then a mutant badger put a crossbow bolt through the windshield into Shawn's face. My Demon Regenerator, Logan Wagner, bamfed all over the place and regenerated all over the place. With a sword. And a gun. Fuck yeah.