Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thinkin' Sorcerer (Mystic Blood II: Demon Blood of the Sorcerer!)

I feel kinda silly being into hippie games and never playing the grandaddy, Sorcerer. I've wanted to run it for a while but to run it you have to make it your own first, and I haven't every done that in a way I like.

I really want to run or play Sorcerer and Sword -- but it feels wrong to me to try and run the heavily modded supplement without having run or played the pristine item. Joe thinks this is silly and I should just run Sword, but there you go.

So I've come up with something that's kind of hooked me into it a bit. I was thinking of trying to do something kinda like NightLife, Vampire, or NightSpawnBane, some "contemporary horror but the players are the monsters" game, but with Sorcerer.

In such a game, you do not become a vampire by getting bitten and just waking up vampy. You become a vampire by allowing the vampire blood -- a parasite demon -- into your body and bonding with it, agreeing to feed its need (for you to drink human blood). Likewise, with a werewolf -- but with wolf blood. I can also see there being "vampire rings" or whatever, an object demon which gives you the powers of dark blood, if a player preferred that. A "monster" is a character who is possessed, or in the case of player characters, voluntarily inhabited, by a particular kind of demon.

I don't think you even need to tweak the base rules to do that. Vampires would have (conferred by their blood demon) Special Damage (fangs), Boost Stamina, Cloak, probably Vitality... Add-ons could be Travel (flight) perhaps conditioned on a Shapeshift to bat form, Perception (night vision), Boost Will, Armor, Command (bats, rats?), Daze or Confuse, Fast... All of the above would be a bad-ass, Drac-level vamp, and the demon would be a force to be reckoned with on a global scale. Maybe if you wanted to go really nuts you could add in some kind of Spawn/Possessor deal which spawns possessors, to reflect the ability to create slave vampires, who knows. A "starter" vamp could just have the first few powers from the list.

A werewolf demon would have Boost (stamina), Special Damage (lethal -- fangs and claws), Perception (animal senses), Vitality, and Fast, some or all of which would be conditional on a Shapeshift to wolf form. Need would be to kill a living thing while in animal form.

I'm thinking maybe an Immortal demon -- something which made its user ageless, like the Highlander or the Comte de Saint-Germain. Such characters were part of a game Joe and I worked on on and off for years, called Mystic Blood, which was kind of a spinoff from the old Magus game that Jim Z began back in, what, the summer of 1988 I think.

For the base immortality you'd have Vitality, then... I don't know. If the demon itself carried ancient wisdom, maybe an abstruse Cover or three and a Boost Lore? I guess such a demon's powers could be tailored according to the players' whim. I don't know what its Need would be. Perhaps competition (if you make it martial competition you're starting to move into Highlander territory) or domination (Illuminati-type scheming)? The trouble with this kind of character though is if I remember correctly (I'll have to check), you're supposed to start off having newly bound your first demon, and that doesn't work well with centuries-old characters. Dunno. We'll see about that one.

Oh yeah... and Mystic Blood also followed Monsters! Monsters! by Ken St Andre in ripping off Roger Zelazny's Jack of Shadows to create the "Shadowjack" as a race. A Shadowjack demon might have Perception (hear anything said in a shadow while you're in a connecting shadow), Cloak (disappear into the shadows), Vitality, and such stuff. It'd be fun to include those as an option as well, in this "Mystic Blood II: Demon Blood of Sorcerer" idea.

Anyway, I'm writing this stuff down mostly to throw it open to the folks who are kind enough to read my blog and who might have played or run sorcerer, for advice on what else I need to figure out before I'm ready to run with this, and how workable the stuff I've got so far sounds.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Junonian Endgame -- Part 1

Junonian Endgame

I took notes, but this game sticks in my mind.

For reference:

We left Maxwell having lost his would-be captor Ivy in a hospital on Venus. As the story begins, he has given up on her and decided to track down the origin of the Aegis agents he slew in the previous game. (Remarkably, Maxwell does not murder anyone in this game.) He goes to the beach where they fought and manages to find a tooth from one of them. Perhaps it has a little Jupiter symbol etched on it...

Anyway, he turns into his signature dark eagle form, grabs the tooth, and uses it as a psychometric homing device to find his way back to the Aegis unit's ship -- a big nautiloid (Randy had brought a sheaf of Spelljammer ship illustrations, including the nautiloid ), for visual reference.

He approaches the ship -- one light is on in one window. He flies up and alights on the window, and looks inside.

It's Ivy. She's going through the ship's papers, apparently trying to find out the same sorts of things Max wants to find out about.

He watches through the window as she appears to find nothing and heads out of the ship. As she walks back out on the beach, Max the eagle lands on her shoulder. She starts and he flaps to the ground and becomes himself. He hits her with a barrage of questions about what she knows about him and the people who brainwashed him. She says, "that's a lot of questions." He replies, "that's all I've got."

(Game system note: he was down to one single four point muse: "find the people who brainwashed him" or words to that effect. So this conversation was inspired by game system considerations.)

She takes him to a Turkish-ish coffeehouse. Sit on the floor on rugs, eat turkish delight with your coffee, hookah available on request. They talk, and he finds a lot out.

Her name, Ivy, is not a coincidence apparently; she's a Bacchante, a member of the secret society led by Dionysus. Specifically a Maenad, one of their leaders -- the Maenads are largely Archons. (Ivy adorned the Thyrsus, of course.)

Dionysus, as a son of Zeus, lived on Jupiter for some time. But with the ascendancy of Hera, he was driven out. (Hera has no use for her husband's bastards.) He now moves from place to place, spending a lot of time on Earth. The Bacchantes are minor but powerful players in the espionage and war games of the gods, holding special emnity for Hera and her Junonians.

Her Junonians? Hera drove Dionysus from Jupiter? None of this was familiar to Max, despite having the memories of an ordinary Jovian citizen. I guess Max never read the Jovian equivalent of Noam Chomsky. Pretty much watched the Jovian Fox News, if you will. Party line.

Anyway, they're interested in him as a probable pawn of, you guessed it, Hera. An angry pawn, and therefore a possible ally.

But why would Hera scheme to have him kill a major Aegis official, an act so offensive to her husband it required a brainwashed Archon as a sleeper agent assassin?

Well... She does hate her husband's bastards. Among them, Heracles. Who's still on Jupiter, enjoying great rank, power, and privilege as the head of the Aegis. She can't kill him (Jove knows she's tried..), but maybe she could assassinate a favorite?

If that were the case, these Aegis agents would have been straightforwardly pursuing him as a murderer, perhaps suspecting some intrigue but surely knowing nothing of its extent or origin.

And the Junonians would be off in the wings, smiling quietly to themselves.

That was the end of my first play segment -- no conflicts yet! But it's enough to post in one bite.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pointer to the 20x20 room

If for some weird reason you're reading this blog and not the 20x20 room, check this out. Good entry with lots of interesting comments about race in RPGs -- in Shadowrun, to start with.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Road Movie to Hades

Another Nine Worlds game last night. Sadly, Ed was unable to make it. Here are some of the things that happened:

- Scopas (James) needed to find a way into Hades proper. He ran into Kester, the Thanatoi that had been on the Eclipse, and the two went to a pub in the Ninth Gate. He wanted Kester to help him get into Hades and find out what happened to the souls of his friends and decided to be upfront about it. Kester is moved by his story (and a few bottles of liquor) and agreed to take Scopas into the Underworld.

- Cohen (Randy) got to thinking while waiting for Scopas to return to the ship. The cyclopes, who created the original telluric weapons, were killed by Apollo's Archer agents. When things die, their souls go to Hades. He was sitting just outside the gates of Hades. Math was done, and he headed towards the Gate. He made his way past the guards and their cerberus dogs and found himself in Hades.

- Cyrus (Jim) under the guise of being an Aegis agent, infiltrated the Daedalian base with the intention of smuggling Milo Icarius out. Things were going good until the base commander got suspicious and wired back to Aegis HQ and found out Cyrus was not who he claimed to be. Cyrus kicked into "Matrix" mode, pulled out a few sub-machine guns and blasted his way out, Milo in tow. Something tells me that Max, Ed's character, is no longer number one on the "Aegis Most Wanted" list.

- Kester took Scopas to the Hall of Records in Hades, where he found out what had happened to the shades of his friends. Sahak had been sent to the Elysium Fields, but his wife, Anastasia, who had committed suicide after the death of Sahak, was slated to go to Tartarus. Scopas asked Kester to help him again, to find Anastasia, but Kester would only do it if Scopas agreed to help him get Cohen... Kester held Cohen responsible for his being beaten and interrogated by the Atlanteans, and nearly losing the soul he had been transporting. Scopas swore to help him. They found Anastasia just as guards were coming to take her away to the Black Pit. Scopas told her that he had destroyed the Kraken that had killed Sahak, and that she need to have hope, and tried to instill her with that hope. She glowed with a light never before seen in Hades. The guards told Scopos that it had been foreseen that he would come, and that he had tipped the scales for Anastasia. She would be reunited with her husband. They led her away to go to Paradise.

- Cohen made his way into the Hall of Records, into a secure area, and found out the fates of the cyclopes. Arges and Brontes were locked away in Tartarus, but Steropes was NOT in Hades. Cohen dug more and found that the cyclopes had been sent out of the Underworld by Hades himself, escorted by Briareus the hecatonchire. They had been sent to Earth. Curious. Cohen left the Hall, wondering how he was going to get out of Hades, when he ran into Kester and Scopas, who tried to capture him. Scopas, though, did not really try to the best of his ability. In fact he wanted to make it look like he was doing his best to incapacitate Cohen, while letting him escape. Kester saw through this ruse and tried to take both Archons into custody, angered by Scopas' betrayal. During the conflict, he used Chaos points to damage both of their primary virtues, then later, Stasis to lock them down. Things were looking grim until Scopas trumped in on the conflict and won, allowing both he and Cohen to escape.

- Cyrus and Milo made it back the the Benjamin Franklin and took to the air, just as a group of Aegis aetherships closed in on them. With some fancy flying and simple outclassing, Cyrus blasted out of Jupiter's atmosphere and into the aether, leaving the Aegis ships in the dust. He and Milo discussed what to do next, and Cyrus suggested that Milo go into hiding on Earth. Milo thought it was a good idea.

So, we have a convergence on Earth. What the hell is Steropes doing there for Hades? You can be sure that Kester is going to be gunning for Cohen and Scopas. Now Aegis is after half the players. Could it get any better?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006

somehow I missed this before

Vincent's post with two links (for different browsers) to the Dogs in the Vineyard flash animation.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Forge Vision

Awesome post by Ron on the Forge Vision, and why there will never be a Forge brand applied to games.

This bit --

It's hard enough as it is for me to preserve my focus on that vision I'm talking about. As far as I'm concerned, the Forge is actually a bit in the red in that regard, relative to its first couple years of existence. Clinton and I do have work to do with what the Forge "is," culturally. We've discussed it. It doesn't prioritize actively building the cultural brand into an institutional one to benefit established companies further. That work has to turn more grass-roots, more punky, and more toward those folks like Doug Bolden, James V. West, Jeff Diamond, and others, as they were back then. (I name these guys because the Forge ultimately failed them, unforgivably on my part, which I see as a far greater indictment of it than Vincent Baker's success is a vindication. Clinton has his own list of casualties. We remember them even if others don't.)

made me wonder: in what way did the Forge fail James V West? (I mention him over Jeff and Doug because I'm more familiar with his work.) He certainly hasn't been making any more games after Questing Beast, I guess... I'm really curious what Ron was thinking there.

And this bit, which followed immediately --

That's why the First Thoughts forum is key. I wish more of you guys would spend time there, and use your pride and success in getting your companies off the ground as a fuel for outreach to these guys as they appear or are invited ... and rediscover the chance to learn from them. 'Cause that's where the great ideas really are, out among the wacky little guys who think they're alone in the brush. Not in the modern blogspace and not in the (thank th'Lord defunct) theory forums.

That made me all kinds of happy.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Nine Worlds: The Venerean Gambit

Just a few quick notes about the game.

This is my second game of Nine Worlds -- the first one was almost two years ago!.

I was originally going to make a new character, but Joe had a copy of Max, including a printout of the writeup linked above, and I was tempted into picking him up again. Which I'm glad I did.

The game had four players -- James and Randy had played before, quite recently, and Jim was new to the game. Being selfish, I'm just going to report my character's part of the game. They all have computers and can write up their own (like Jim did). James ("Scopas") and Randy ("Cohen") had their characters knowing each other, and mostly at the same places at the same time. Jim ("Cyrus") and I ("Max") didn't happen to meet any other PCs during the course of the game, though we often came across the effects of each other's play. For example, Scopas and Cohen travelled to Jupiter and were handed an illustrated "Ten Most Wanted" list, with Max's clueless mug in #1 position. (His character concept, as listed on the sheet in my two year old handwriting, was "Patsy".)

Max was on Venus, and was expected to be debriefed by the Graces about the whole thing. ("Debriefed by the Graces" sounds like a fun way to spend an evening, but.... ) Max wasn't interested in being in the hands, however dainty and skilled, of another planetary faction. He escaped and decided to use his Archon powers to build up a nice little war chest to let him comfortably continue his investigations.

Segue to a private, high-stakes card game (poker or some equivalent) to which a few days of excellent winnings had won him entry.

His main rival in the game was a hooded and cloaked woman named Ivy. Conflict -- the card game, of course. Max won the first round and narrated the following: Some of the hairs at the back of his head started lengthening, then burrowed into his collar and slid down his body underneath his clothes. They snaked across the table, unnoticed, and slid up Ivy's cloak, skirt, and blouse, up her back, to the back of her head (concealed behind her hood). There they inflicted sudden zaps of fear, confusion, and forgetfulness, which, while they didn't last for long, confused her enough for him to win.

He got some points and made a quick Muse out of them -- the Muse was to use this poker game to establish himself as a cool high-roller on Venus.

(It occurs to me now that if I'd wanted to, I could have just said that Max Hubrissed himself up a big bag of money. But what would be the fun in that?...)

Anyway, I let the conflict continue, and in the ensuing rounds was able to use Metamorphosis to steal some points from her Power for my Hubris (leaving me at 10 Hubris! Yowza!) and then the round after that I was able to stasis both of those changes in place with locks. She was down three points, I was up three, victory was in my grasp.

Then she and I tied and she pulled the high card to break it. She handed my ass to me on a silver platter, with a side orders of Extreme Fajitas.

My muse was resolved as a failure.

Maxwell went on a feel-good drinking binge, reducing him to a hollow, sweaty, stinking shell of a man, over the next 24 or 48 hours (he didn't remember). He was walking aimlessly down one of the zillion miles of Venus's beaches -- a beach full, unaccountably, of nasty fog and drizzly rain, when he ran into-- Ivy.

Ivy embraced him and started kissing him deeply, which can't have been much fun for her because he was a disgusting piece of humanity at that point. Soon she had him on the ground, and then -- wait, something wasn't right here -- legs hobbled and hands tied behind his back with a tight cord? Was Ivy that kinky, or -- no, he saw in her smile that he was in big trouble. His brain's Fear Lobe reacted, and he began a Hubris-ful conflict, to get out of her what she knew, who she was working for.

First, all the alcohol disappeared out of his system instantly. He was utterly sober, strong, and with it in seconds. Then he rose up in the sky about 100 feet, and one of his arms became a black tentacle winding around Ivy. He had a pointed conversation with her, and got her to start to spill her guts (he having threatened to spill her guts for her), when I undercut my own victory and narrated the squad of Aegis agents which was following Max into showing up at that second, and unleashing a hail of some kind of gunfire from the ground. Max's current state put him beyond vulnerability to bullets, but they did hit her fairly bad -- she needed medical attention very soon.

New conflict -- and a chance to resolve a muse about these dudes.

This was a very long conflict, but fun. What happened was that Max killed agents each round while he (with his super pumped Hubris of 10, locked in) won round after round of conflict and whittled down their Power. It was, "play cards, narrate agents' horrible supernatural deaths, repeat." I slew some with black lightning, I buried some of them 50 feet down in the beach sand; I created an unkindness of demonic ravens which tore some apart like pirhanas; and the last one, I just faced him, locked eyes, and he died of a heart attack. Oh, the killing killing killing. Taste the power of my Hubris!

At that point he took Ivy and checked her into the local hospital. Where she disappeared. She was triaged and taken into the emergency room, but when Max tried to follow through the door, she was gone. Everyone there denied they had seen her, and her paperwork, which he had just filled out as best he could and handed it to a nurse, had vanished. It was as if she had never been.

And that was the game. It doesn't sound like a ton happened, but this was 1/4 of a game. And it was really fun watching it play out.

The rules, which had been a bit much for me before (2 years ago), seemed easy and cool. I think that a big part of it was watching Randy and James do their stuff with the rules, and absorbing how it all worked from their example. Joe (GMing) introduced "bidding for Trump" halfway through the game, after everyone had had a conflict or two, and that was easily absorbed as well. Joe had the rules down _pat_, and that helped a lot. I would almost feel confident running a game of it, despite not having actually read the rules.

that's all I have the brainpower for writing right now. Hit me with any questions.

Review of the game as it exists/was played last night? Suh-weet. Would play more, wouldn't really mind running it if I got a chance to read more of the rulebook first.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Moorcock Down on Chaosium?

So it would seem, according to this post (via Uncle Bear:

They have done little to honour the spirit of an agreement which essentially was made many years ago before RPG was big business. Around the same time I was asked by D&D if they could also use my characters and concepts and, as with Chaosium, I said 'sure'. It was as simple as that. The next thing I know is that Chaosium is threatening to sue D&D, who backed off (which is why the Elric mythos is only in the first D&D book).

Now that's a version of events I hadn't heard before.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This Man Needs a Visit From the Dogs

Warren Jeffs, you better be damn happy that the feds got to ya before the Dogs did.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Laws On Indie

In case you missed it Robin Laws has some thoughtworthy stuff to say about the Forge Booth at GenCon.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Princess Katie vs. the Evil Birds

The other day... The kids (5yo twins) had found a boxfull of dice and Katie was playing with them while Teddy was busy with Ratchet & Clank. Katie was all ready to have fun just rolling the dice, but I asked her if she wanted to see what kind of games me and my friends play with dice.

She did! I told her we play story games. I said that we were going to make up somebody to be in the story, and I mentioned that she could play a warrior or a dragon or, or a princess, or a --

Princess won by a mile. She was definitely going the princess route.

I asked this princess's name. "Princess Katie." Subtlety has never been her strong point.

I asked her to tell me some things about Princess Katie that I could write down on a piece of paper. First we got:

* Likes Flowers
* Likes Ponies

She's definitely in that hyper-girly stage.

I asked if she had any "powers," and you BET she did. She could freeze people into blocks of ice, and she could also use magic fire to thaw them out.

* Freeze Power
* Fire Power

I set the scene that her favorite pony had been kidnapped, and she had to rescue him. She agreed and decided that Evil Birds had carried him off. We had a short little story about rescuing them, and finding lots of other ponies captive too, and rescuing them and bringing them to their homes. Every so often I called for a roll of 1,2,3 or 4,5,6 to decide which direction the story took. It was a tiny little story but it was fun and she loved it.

Ron on Bacchanal

Ron does a great job in this post explaining the difference between Bacchanal and Penthouse Letters.* I believe it was 'Anyway' that pointed me at it.

* (Note to younger readers: a long time ago, before the world wide web, people had to buy magazines to look at naked people and read naughty stories. Yes, it was a dark age. Thank us oldsters that we invented the internet so you didn't have to worry about that, you can go out and try to hook up with hot babes on myspace by text messaging them with a cellphone, or whatever the hell kids do these days.)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Apparently a My Life With Master Sourcebook of Some Kind?

"In [the book] A Cup of Cold Water, Ed Heil gives us a timely reminder of the virtues and ultimate victory won by genuine servants of the Master. Hardback."


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

No Gencon For Ed, No Ed For Gencon

I've decided not to do Gencon after all, at the last minute.

Sucks to miss a chance to see the cool Forgies again, and meet new people like (for example) John Harper, and Lxndr, whom I've met only briefly before.

But I had other issues to think about this week and decided my best course is to put it off till next year.

Have an awesome time, everyone who's going, Joe included. :)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Shout Out from Half Meme

Paul Czege put together a really cool ad for Bacchanal, with kind words for a drawing of mine.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

New Art

Nothing new from me -- my creative powers remain stalled, stunned, and stunted for now. But Joe just did a couple new colorings of trollbabes -- one unnamed, and a very different interpretation of Tha.

Just uploaded to my long untouched illo site.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

These Folks Need Dogs

Just how messed up can tiny, isolated-against-the-world religious communities get? I dunno, check out this article about rape and incest among the Amish.

"This approach is rooted in the Amish notion of Gelassenheit, or submission. Church members abide by their clergymen; children obey their parents; sisters mind their brothers; and wives defer to their husbands (divorce is taboo). With each act of submission, the Amish follow the lesson of Jesus when he died on the cross rather than resist his adversaries."

Gelassenheit is a lot like the Faith's "stewardship" but expressed from the point of view of the stewardees, not the stewards.

Apologies to any I give offense to by comparing real-world tragedies to roleplaying game adventures. But it's not as if Dogs is D&D.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Business Casual For a Martian Warlord - Part 2

I had originally planed on only making the characters for the Nine Worlds game, but since we had some time, I thought it would be best to get right into the playing out a few scenes, and get a feel for the system, and I'm glad I did.

I started a scene, and decided, with approval of the players, to have Scopas (played by James) and Cohen (played by Randy) be together. They were on Mercury, and both had reasons to go to Hades. Scopas wanted to make sure the shades of his friends would be together -- he reasoned that since one had committed suicide, they might not be able to be together. Perhaps that one was in Tarterus. Cohen had a Muse for transporting a Thanatoi agent and his cargo safely to Hades. I figured what the heck, they are both going the same way...

Next, Randy set the scene. Things were going fine until Cohen announced that they would be making a stop on Mars for supplies. Actually, he was smuggling arms to New Sparta. They were approached in Mars aetherspace by a Marian port authority ship, and were boarded. Ah, conflict. Would they find the hidden contraband? Turns out they did, but the conflict was a real nail-bitter, as Randy and I tied for Fate. The first tie-breaker was a tie. As was the second! The third card allowed me to win, but only barely. They Eclipse was being escorted down to Thracia. Things were not looking good.

James was up and said that Scopas had a contact on Mars, a warlord in fact, named Celeus. He had done some courier work for the warlord in the past, and thought he might be able to help. Scopas and Cohen were escorted to Celeus' estate in Thracia, and met with the warlord. It was in this scene that I coined the phrase "business casual for a warlord of Mars." I was trying to describe him and that is what popped into my ridiculous head. Another conflict. Basically, both Scopas and Cohen wanted to convince Celeus to help them, worded slightly differently, and the warlord did not want to get his hands dirty in their little affair. Once again, Randy and I tied for Fate, but I beat James. First tie-breaker... a tie! Second? Tie again! We were both sweating, and he was sure he was going to get hosed again, but he pulled it off.

The narration was pretty interesting. Scopas, who lost, had been using Arete, and Cosmos to boot. He was trying to use the truth, create a logical case for why Celeus should help them. It fell on deaf ears. Cohen on the other hand, went the Hubirs route, creating false documents, and a magically glib tongue. The warlord was all ears. He totally fell for it.

Another interesting thing... when I was stating out Celeus, the idea popped into my head that he should have the Muse "See the Free Spartan League Succeed." Yep, the warlord was secretly working against Ares. Randy worked into his narration that Cohen let it be known that the weapons were for the League The warlord assured him they would be delivered. His Muse was resolved. And he won a few points which he put into a new Muse "Deliver telluric weapons to Celeus." Holy crap! So in two short scenes, he went from smuggler/explorer to subverter of Ares rule. I approve. The Eclipse and it's crew was released, and that is where we ended for them.

Next up was Amaris (played by Tammy.) We started with her arriving in Arcadia after traveling by foot for many days. She had to see Artemis, convince her to help get Amaris' centaur friends back. She went to the Primarch's temple, but was turned away by the priestess-bureaucrats. Their Lady could not be bothered, they said. Amaris, being the raised-in-the-wild-child that she is, challenged the priestess to a duel. If she won, they would take her to see Artemis. She succeeded and was taken to the Primarch's inner temple.

Artemis was sitting on a bench, fletching some arrows. Amaris pleaded her case, begging the Primarch to help track down those that took the centaurs. Artemis was sympathetic, but said that if they were off-world, it would hard for her to help. She had to defend Luna, and could not spare the resources. Conflict time. And wouldn't you know it, Amaris won. We were all pretty shocked. Her fate was one point higher. Artemis was moved by the girl's story, and saw a bit of herself in Amaris. She promised she would do what she could... at that point it was pretty late, so we stopped for the evening. Tammy actually resolved two Muses, and is now sitting on some Valor.

First game, one of the characters gets into a conflict with a Primarch, and wins. Damn. Another character is working against the interests of another Primarch. I love this game.

And here I was at the beginning of the game thinking "What should I do? I know, I'm gonna stat out a kraken. Yeah, maybe we can have that kraken that killed Scopas' friend show up." All I had to do was sit back and let the players hand me some nice and juicy conflicts. Oh, mind you, I'll be keeping those kraken stats handy. It's a long way from Mars to Hades after all...

We only get to play once a month, and decided that we would try and get some playing in next month at Gen Con while we're there. Maybe Ed can join in, eh?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Business Casual For a Martian Warlord - Part 1

Joe here. Wow, I haven't posted here since December. Sorry Ed for making you do all the work!

Last night, I started my new Nine Worlds game. My group had just finished a season of Primetime Adventures, and I was ready to try running something different. I'd have been itching to do some 9W for a while. I had only planned on doing character creation, but we finished pretty early, so we ran a few scenes. Holy crap, it was awesome. I'd run some 9W with Ed quite a while a go, but this was the first time with multiple players, and it really was something.

First off, for the characters:

Cohen (played by Randy) - He was originally from Earth, spent some time teaching at the University of Delphi, and now runs a cargo/smuggling aethership, called the Eclipse. He is searching for the lost secrets of the Cyclopes telluric weapons.

Scopas (played by James) - He is a former freelance courier from Mercury, know for his speed. Recently everything fell apart... one of his partners was killed a kraken and their spouse, his other partner, committed suicide. He wants to see that kraken slain, by his own hand, and be sure that the shades of his partners are together for eternity.

Amaris (played by Tammy) - She was born and raised in the wilds of Luna by a clan of centaurs. They were recently attacked and the centaurs not killed were kidnapped, taken off-world. She wants to find out who took the only family she's ever known from her and free them, preferably with help from Artemis.

Lots of connections, good muses, place to go, creatures to kill. My mind was abuzz with ideas, so we started. It just so happened that Cohen was heading to Hades to transport a Thanatoi and his "cargo." He took on another passenger, Scopas, who had his own reasons for going to Hades...

More coming!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Downtown Milwaukee Is Sinking

Seriously. Insert your own "years of stress from fat gamers at Gencons past" joke here.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

D20 Old School

Last night when I went to play D&D with some good local friends, I actually scrounged together a sack full of dice and brought it along. This seemed like a big step, for some reason.

When I got there I searched for D20s and I only found two. They were both the old-fashioned "0-9 twice" D20s. One of them (the oldest) had one set of 0-9 inked in in green, and one set in red -- green indicated 11 through 20, of course. The other had 0-9 twice with a tiny plus mark engraved next to one of the sets of 0-9.

I rolled the latter and got a 1+, or 11. I was like "OK, 1, with the plus, that's eleven..." and I got a bunch of hootin and hollerin' about these crazy fancy new age dice with a plus on 'em like a fudge die or something. (I've got a bit of a rep as a Forge nerd among these guys.) I tried to explain about the old 0-9 twice dice, which serve equally well as percentile and twenty-sided, and which were de rigeur before ten sided dice came out and usurped the role (roll?) of percentile dice from the icosahedrons.

They were all "yeah whatever" and the conversation went to other things, but -- is it really that old school to use 0-9 twice dice? I mean, I remember when ten-sideds first came out. Is it so unheard of to use the old kinda dice anymore?

Do these kids today know *nothing* about how "back in my day we used icosahedrons as percentiles, ten-siders, AND twenty-siders, and we LOVED it dammit! Uphill, both ways!"?

hoo boy.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Liz at the Forge

Liz Danforth, my favorite fantasy artist EVAR since I was like TEN YEARS OLD, shows up on the Forge, and her first post is a reply to one of mine. How cool is that? (Joe pointed this out to me.)

Of course, she'd posted to a really really old thread, and woke it up, and people started replying, so Ron had to come in and put the smack down on the various posters. It's kinda funny cause he's simultaneously Mr Stern Moderator, and a google-eyed Danforth fanboy like myself.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fun Photoshop Contest

Check it out.

A few faves...

Good gravy, I'm kind of amazed I actually get the Tubeways one.

Pardon my way clumsy use of images in a blogspot blog. I'm just pressing buttons here and hoping.

EDIT: Joe here. Sorry Ed, I had to kill those images. They were driving me crazy!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

More UncleBear Linkage

Apparently somebody's going to be publishing RuneQuest again? How does this relate to the existing Hero Wars/HeroQuest thing? And they're doing Lankhmar too? Just in time for the comics and movies and republished books? Huh. I'm not sure how to react to that. I thought HeroQuest was Glorantha now.

Drama At Palladium Greatly Exaggerated (By Palladium)

Why do I care about this? I don't know. Palladium's in Michigan, and I've lived here in Michigan most of my life. I have a soft spot for some of the old Palladium games, freakish as they are (Ninjas & Superspies, TMNT, maybe Beyond The Supernatural, and the original tiny Mechanoids booklet). Also I am a sucker for tabloid scandal. If the blog hadn't already made that clear.

Anyway, Uncle Bear has more on the Palladium crisis. Turns out (unsuprisingly) that this wasn't actually that recent, that at least as far as the Law is convinced, he was off by a couple orders of magnitude on how much was stolen from him (5 figures instead of 6 or 7).

I wonder if he was thinking of Mega-Financial-Damage-Capacity instead of plain old Financial-Damage-Capacity?

Go read if you care about this stuff. Uncle Bear's always a good place to go for mainstream game news.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I don't know much about Iron Empires; Burning Empires looks cool to me because there aren't enough good sci-fi or even space opera type games out there; but the thing I can't get over about it is that in addition to the glorious painting type illustrations, there is this awesomely cool sketch on the PDF of the Table of Contents.

I don't know why that geeks me the heck out, but it does.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Spoken Like A True Benevolent Dictator

Ron writes:
This is where I lay down the law for participating at the booth. By signing up (that is, by paying Luke), you are agreeing to all of the points listed below, plus whatever I forgot but remember or decide later.
Awesome. I laughed.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


How do people get knocked out from a punch? The Straight Dope answers.

If you want to knock somebody out, apparently, you have to get some fast rotational motion in there -- a really swift blow to the jaw is the thing, not something heavy dropping on your head.

If you're writing simulation-y rules for pugilism, take note!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Highly Unfortunate Distinction

There is site called "Perverted Justice" which performs the admirable service of exposing sexual predators who hit on children in regional chatrooms. Reading it is a combination of fascinating and completely nauseating, with a side order of righteous indignation and schadenfreude at their being caught and exposed.

Anyway, the character who has been voted #1 slimiest predator ever is 34 year old Paul from Chicago, aka "fleet_captain_jaime_wolf" on yahoo. His transcript is a nasty glimpse into the universe of a pedophile into dominance/submission stuff.

Why do I bring it up here? Check this shit out. (At this point he has gotten what he thinks is a 13 year old girl to refer to him as "master.")
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:29:15 PM): Do you play role playing games?
sadlilgrrl (6:29:24 PM): i used to play a mud master
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:29:36 PM): I see... What else?
sadlilgrrl (6:29:55 PM): i try to write some master but im not very good
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:30:10 PM): Youwill get better... I write for RPGs...
sadlilgrrl (6:30:34 PM): like dungeons and dragoons master?
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:30:40 PM): Yes, like D&D...
sadlilgrrl (6:30:47 PM): thats a really cool game master
sadlilgrrl (6:30:52 PM): i get confused by the dice tho master
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:30:53 PM): Do you play it?
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:31:00 PM): I will explain the dice...
sadlilgrrl (6:31:02 PM): i try to master
sadlilgrrl (6:31:15 PM): i had a book on a vampire type game like that master
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:31:27 PM): Oh? Good... Vampire the Maskerade?
sadlilgrrl (6:31:33 PM): yes master
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:31:42 PM): I used to work for White Wolfe...
sadlilgrrl (6:31:56 PM): is that the publisher master?
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:32:03 PM): Yeppers, it is.
sadlilgrrl (6:32:32 PM): thats really cool master
sadlilgrrl (6:32:38 PM): you must be really really creative master

I'm not even going to quote where the conversation goes immediately after that, but eventually, after we find out that Paul prefers Macross to Gundam, we get this:
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:58:40 PM): Have you seen the movie "Underworld", yet?
sadlilgrrl (6:58:42 PM): my friend hillary left it at my house master
sadlilgrrl (6:58:43 PM): no master
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:58:50 PM): Oh? You should, when you can.
sadlilgrrl (6:59:11 PM): okay master
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (6:59:37 PM): Did you know that "Underworld" stole some of my ideas? (*blinks*)
sadlilgrrl (6:59:44 PM): no master
sadlilgrrl (7:00:06 PM): what did they do master?
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (7:00:23 PM): Well, in Vampire the Mascerade, you know how Vampires & Werewolves are enemies, right?
sadlilgrrl (7:00:42 PM): yes master
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (7:01:10 PM): But, I had to idea to base an adventure around a Vampire who falls in love with a Werewolfe...
sadlilgrrl (7:01:36 PM): even though they hated each other master?
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (7:01:50 PM): Even though their people did....
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (7:01:55 PM): Look at Romeo & Juliet...
sadlilgrrl (7:02:01 PM): oh okay master
fleet_captain_jaime_wolfe (7:02:34 PM): THink about it, doomed love is the best form of love. (This comment scares me.)
(Italicized bits are the reaction of the Peej volunteer playing the part of the 13 year old.)

So anyway, he's apparently a former writer for White Wolf, and wants his new massively underage sex slave to play RPGs with him. Eeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Anyway, he got busted and is now immortalized both on PeeJ and the Illinois sex offenders page.

There's no particular point to this post, I just was goggle-eyed seeing the juxtaposition of nerdy gamer and predator. Had to share.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Palladium Calls for Help

Palladium's financially hosed for some reason they can't talk about except to describe it as "skullduggery from within" to the tune of about a million bucks. So they're asking their fans to buy an as-yet-undrawn signed illustration for $50.

Trippy. I've enjoyed me some palladium games -- Ninjas and Superspies most of all -- but I'm not a "buy a $50 print to save the company" level fan.

Mostly I'm curious what the deal is with the "skullduggery."


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Heads Up From Ed

Hey y'all. Ed (as opposed to Joe) here. I thought I'd give a quick personal Heads Up to the world. 2006 has been a pretty rough year so far -- a series of medical and automobile issues and family difficulties have been sucking the life out of me, making creative work and keeping up on everybody's blog-and-Forge-life pretty difficult. My regular blog at goesping.org has become a "link from reddit.com and a few words of commentary" aggregator. My little online comic "bring it," which I'd been updating almost daily for a while, petered out. Couldn't think of anything funny anymore. I couldn't make the Forge Midwest Gathering, because I thought I needed to go on a work trip, and then when I realized my mistake about the work trip, well, I lost my mother in law that weekend instead, so it's a damn good thing I was in town.

Anyway I'm going to kindly call this a "fallow period" for myself and see how/if it continues. Apologies to Joe for using the blog he started as if it were a livejournal for the purposes of this post. :)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Websnark on Traveller

Eric Burns gets misty eyed and Traveller for a few pages. I'm approximately his age, I think, and I discovered Traveller as a young sprout myself, and yeah, he really sums up what's outstandingly cool about it.

One thing that struck me that he didn't mention is naming in Traveller. In Traveller, exotic things always, always, always have very plain names. Names so plain they highlight the exoticism of the setting by contrast.

An antigravity-powered landing and exploration vehicle was called an "air/raft". (OK, the slash is a little sparkly, but you don't pronounce it or anything.) Space suits are "vacc suits." Faster-than-life travel happens via a "jump drive." Slower-than-light space travel happens via a "maneuver drive." A drug which speeds up your perception of time and ability to act, so that other people seem to be going in slow motion, is called "slow." Shiny armor that deflects lasers is called "reflec." Armor that ablates away the energy from a laser is called "ablat."

Long before Doom gave us the BFG-9000, Traveller gave us the "PGMP-12" and "FGMP-15," that is, "plasma gun, man-portable, available on planets with a tech level at least 12," and "fusion gun, man-portable, blah blah tech level 15."

Even the spaceship from the cover lettering was just called "Free Trader Beowulf," not "Star Trader Beowulf."

Old Traveller stuff, of which I still have piles and piles, had a powerful and unique minimalist aesthetic.

Should be sweet to see what's next.

Great Miniature Sculptor Passes On

I have never really been into roleplaying with miniatures, having started (back in the late 70s, when I was but a sprout) with Tunnels & Trolls, which was never intended to be played with miniatures.

But the're cool as hell aren't they?

And now one of the great miniature sculptors of the industry has passed on. Check out the tribute page.

Via Uncle Bear.

Friday, February 17, 2006

CRN: What It's All About

This counterpoint by Clinton to Ron's "Brain Damage" post was something I really enjoyed reading. Check it if you haven't.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Ron thinks old school gamers are damaged, drawing a parallel with victims of childhood sexual molestation.

I wish Ron wouldn't pussyfoot around like that, worrying about offending people, and would tell us how he really feels, man!

At least one fellow Forgie got really peeved at this.

Me, I don't know nothin' from nothin', as my grampa used to say. But I really enjoyed Piers Brown's response, the part where he suggested that the messed up stuff you find in RPGs is maybe something symptomatic of the whole culture -- I don't think this was the point he was trying to make, but I think that in an essentially scientific culture we tend to think of the world as a machine, whose parts we can understand and reduce to formulas, often ones on a high level of abstraction. The notion of RPGs as physics engines feeds into this World Machine view. I think it's an easy trap to fall into, especially for people with a theoretical bent.

Ron is talking about finding gamers especially stupid at grokking stories at stories, though. I've got no comment on that one way or the other, except to say that one could read the entirety of the Knights of the Dinner Table series as an extended example of the tragedy of that particular deficiency. And yet for all that I enjoy the hell out of KODT. :)

UPDATE: reading further, I realize that what I just said has nothing to do with his post. C'est la vie. He's not even talking about gamers in general, just "Storytelling" gamers, from a particular generation that I may or may not fall into. Not sure.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Illo Trove Lives, Kinda

I have the trove site on its way into reality.

It's just a sketchy little site right now -- Art Trove -- and I'm trying to figure out what to do for the licensing arrangements, whether I need some special legal verbiage to say "thanks for the simoleons! you now have the right to treat all present & future art presented as part of the Art Trove as clip art, for your own royalty-free use. This license is non-transferable."

I'm also thinking that there's no reason I should discourage people from joining up without asking for a specific piece to be added. You can always take a raincheck on your request. I just am a little nervous about accepting cash for pieces of art I haven't produced yet -- what if I am unable to create a piece that satisfies a buyer?

I think I can solve that this way: the 25 clams are not for the free piece. They're for Trove membership. The free piece is a bonus freebie, and so in case I'm not able to produce exactly what you want, well, I'll do the best I can, but I'm not going to stress about you already having "paid me for it" -- cause you didn't, you paid for the Trove membership.

I'm also thinking of having a standing offer for new pieces for a flat fee (maybe $20 unless it's a complex/elaborate piece, in which case I'd price it up from there, but still trying to make it a "discount rate") to be done to the specs of an existing trove member and added to the trove.

So once you're in, you can call on me to build up what's in the trove, cheaply, in the ways you need.

Presumably under this system the trove will grow naturally to include things that the people who are most likely to fork out extra cash want. :)

Does anybody know where I could look to find appropriate legal verbiage for the "I give you and only you permission to go nuts with this art royalty-free" statement?

Stephen Colbert on Gaming

From an interview in the Onion's AV Club:

AVC: You were into Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, were you not?

SC: Yeah, I really was. I started playing in seventh grade, 1977. And I played incessantly, 'til probably 1981—four years.

AVC: What's the appeal?

SC: It's a fantasy role-playing game. If you're familiar with the works of Tolkien or Stephen R. Donaldson or Poul Anderson or any of the guys who wrote really good fantasy stuff, those worlds stood up. It's an opportunity to assume a persona. Who really wants to be themselves when they're teenagers? And you get to be heroic and have adventures. And it's an incredibly fun game. They have arcane rules and complex societies and they're open-ended and limitless, kind of like life. For somebody who eventually became an actor, it was interesting to have done that for so many years, because acting is role-playing. You assume a character, and you have to stay in them over years, and you create histories, and you apply your powers. It's good improvisation with agreed rules before you go in.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Illo Trove

So I was almost going to go to bed but then I had this idea. Here's the idea.

I start an Ed's Illo Trove service.

To join the service, you pay a one-time fee of N dollars. For those N dollars, I create one piece of art to your specification and add it to the Trove. N is significantly less than I might normally charge for an illustration.

That one-time fee entitles you to use all the Trove art forever, royalty-free, as many times as you want. All the art in the Trove is yours to command, to use as if it were clip art.

The Trove art is also available to anyone else in the world, but only under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license. So anyone can use all the art, no questions asked, without even paying the one-time fee, as long as they are willing to pull a Clinton R. Nixon and share with the world just like I am sharing with them.

The result:

I get money.
I get published.
I get to contribute to the Commons.
Trove members get tons of art for their games for a small fee, the only downside being that it's not necessarily going to be unique to their games.

Anybody see any big holes in this plan?

Anybody have suggestions as to what would be a good price for N?

Now I can go to bed.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bacchanal Recognized

Rock! (Via Michael S. Miller on the Forge!)

But the greatest thing of 2005 (or of 61 A.D.) that has weird shaped dice, characters, story lines, and dice pool mechanics -- while still not quite being an RPG -- is Paul Czege's unforgettable Bacchanal. Sex, drunkenness, and now the 2005 Outie for Best Sui Generis RPG.
Congrats Paul! Bacchanal deserves it! Now if only I knew a bunch of people who wanted to play it with me...

YES that's my art, yes it rocks, yes Paul rocks for designing a game I could do an image like that for. Woot.

(All kinds of congrats to Emily, Ben, and Clinton for their runners upness.)


I can't believe this. Ryan, the Guild of Blades dude, is still hanging out on the Forge, giving people advice about publishing games.

I don't know Ryan from Adam. I did some art for him long, long ago. As best I remember he paid well and was a very responsible businessman. To the best of my knowledge he's a great guy.

But man, he made shit games. I mean, embarrasing, terrible shit. Dark Realms and W.H.A.T? (at the time, an unexplained acronym) were simply the worst things I had ever seen published as roleplaying games.

They weren't even "good bad," like Ed Wood bad, they were beyond "so bad it's good" and into "so bad it's bad."

Ron talks about "Fantasy Heartbreakers," which are terrible D&D imitations with flashes of brilliance and which are obviously labors of love.

As I remember Deark Realms and W.H.A.T.?, they were more like "Fantasy Backstabbers," terrible D&D imitations without flashes of brilliance, which one imagines have never been played even by their creator, and seem to have been written and marketed in the belief that roleplaying gamers have no standards or taste whatsoever, and will buy any random dreck that a cynical writer and marketeer can crap out.

So let me throw this open to the peanut gallery.

Has anybody seen more recent guild of blades stuff? Is the horrifying shit a thing of the past? Has he either learned to write RPGs that exceed the level of Spawn of Fashan, or else perhaps hired someone who can actually write games and turned it over to him or her?

I dunno, it just boggles the mind. I remember seeing GoB stuff the time I went to Games Plus with Andy; a lot of it seemed to have improved considerably in presentation from the stapled-photocopy specials of the days I knew. But has it improved in content?

In the event Ryan himself sees this post -- dude, I apologize, I'm calling it like I see it. Nothing against you personally; you're a prince of a fellow to the best of my knowledge. I just don't get the deal with the games you used to sell.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Friday, January 13, 2006

burning wheel character sheets

man I need to get smaller pencils -- that should be in the rules -- "0.7mm lead is too coarse to use on the Burning Wheel character sheet. 0.5mm -- yes, with great effort. 0.1mm is recommended. And a jeweler's loupe."