Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spreading the Love Around with some Reviewage and Digressions

I buy a good number of low-cost (but high quality) RPG things every week. I try to limit myself to about 10 to 20 bucks weekly, and usually try to pick up a good deal when I can... I hope I'm not running people out of business with my thrift!

Anyways, I saw mention on one person's blog that there wasn't a review out for his thing yet, and frankly I am amazed since it's all kind of fun. at least on paper.

Just looking at my queue in RPGNow, it appears I have about 666 things to review if I were going to do it right, including a lot of Crawl! stuff, many of the things by Purple Sorcerer and Purple Duck, Goodman Games modules and a wide range of little tiny indy things. I wonder if maybe it must be hard to survive and thrive in this industry because I imagine that each little thing has a niche... You pour your heart and soul into things and it turns out of course the other 4 people in the world who love EXACTLY the same subset of Mechanoid Cowboy Schoolgirls Dungeon RPGs Feminist Narrative Gaming are of course going to buy it but the whole rest of the RPG world is focused on their own stuff.

Alright, here goes (in no particular order) - all the stuff on here came from RPGNow, I think.

Go Fer Yer Gun! by Beyond Belief Games

I was interested in incorporating some Wild West/Frontier elements into my DCC game, in the vein of Spaghetti Westerns.  I'm not sure if this thing was free at the time, but since I picked it up it's gone down to free.  You could do worse than to head over and grab it.  It has some pretty good character classes that fulfill most of the American and Italian Western traditions, and I'm finding with only a little bit of mental gymnastics they could be incorporated into almost any OSR game.  I think they must be based on some version of d20, which makes it pretty easy to drop them into a Flailsnails thing if they are so inclined.  I am having visions of PCs with Colt revolvers mowing down bad guys for a couple of scenarios and then having the tables turned when the cultists hire/incorporate gunslingers into their own crews, gunslingers who happen to be undead or something.  I don't know, Weird West.  The good thing about this work is that it doesn't have any Fantasy or Weird or Steampunk elements on top already, and it has stats in the back for a wide range of real frontier men and women from the American West.  Hey YMMV - it's free.  The production values are pleasingly simple and it's well-made, and the combat is not as wonky as (for example) Boot Hill or GURPS: Wild West or whatever it was...  I like this, and it's too bad these micro-publishers aren't all switched over to a PWYW model, since... I digress again.
I try not to gush whenever I read or review something by Daniel Bishop, and the Crawl! series in general is pretty great.  Daniel's practically running the show on a small corner of the DCC universe and it seems he doesn't slow down, or if he does slow down then he must have a backlog of stuff waiting to be published... (note: I think this is actually the case).  Disclosure:  I love H.P. Lovecraft - like many of the people who might read this blog, Ol' Granpa landed on me in my formative years, after I got some references in the Deities and Demigods and found him in my High School library in maybe the 10th grade.  So it goes for many of us, yeah?  This story is so common, and creative people know HPL so well that the popular culture is inundated with Cthulhu references and He Who Sleeps in R'l'yeh A-Waiting is cutesy-fied and belittled and now Mythos elements are creeping up on Primetime TV!  I don't do TV so I can't watch it, but it's for the best since I don't need my Sanity blasted any further.  If I were paranoid, I would say... but anyways I digress.

This funnel adventure draws upon one of my favorite hair-raising Lovecraft stories that doesn't itself contain Mythos elements, and then pops that story into the context of a Weird Fantasy world.  I won't tell you which one, but if you gobbled down lustily all of Lovecraft's works in your youth like I did, I imagine your ears will perk up like mine did in about 5 seconds and your hairs will be on end in short order.  In fact, it appears that Bishop anticipates this and maybe it happened even in playtesting since there is reference to a way to handle stubborn players who won't get with the flow of the fiction...  An attempt to curb a lifetime of player knowledge, probably, in a subsection of the population whose fandom would never allow them to eat something from those generous woodsy folks who never come into town except to buy salt and nitrates.

I think that this'd be a great way to get a funnel group started in a low-magic Weird Fantasy campaign, or even as an interlude in a normal campaign, maybe to set events up for a party of ass-kickers to find what's left of the first group...  The TPK would be satisfying but not a foregone conclusion, although it does appear (on paper) to be pretty dangerous.  I've not played it yet but I found that, like the story it's based on, the more I read, the more I knew for certain what was coming next until the inevitable conclusion hits with a horrendous wet smack, or a dribble of unidentifiable fluid from the rafters above...  This anxious expectation is IMHO the whole hook of this adventure; the wide-eyed grinning certainty and terror that you know for sure what is happening already and that finding the truth is the only inevitable outcome, and maybe if the gods are with you, your hero can put a stop to it...

The art is great and moody, and suitably horrific - even the maps!  I wouldn't probably want my kid to get her hands on it until she's about 13 or 14, but YMMV.  Not for the faint of heart, for sure.

Also, by the way, if you want a hair-raising rendition of the story this adventure is based on, you really can't do better than to listen to THIS on a lonely car-ride home some dark and stormy night. Whatever you do, don't pull over or get hungry while you're listening, or it'll cost you serious Sanity.  I'm not joking, I've read this particular story a thousand thousand times, in fact you could say the copy I own sometimes just falls open to this page, and when I heard this thing on my iPod I almost pissed my pants.

Unlikely Heroes: OSR Races by Nordic Weasel Games

I say this a good deal:  I don't like elves.  Not the ones I see today, anyway; things were different for elves back in the old days.  One thing I like about DCC is that they are given to you mildly different, mechanically (but not by much), and slightly alien.  From the get-go, you're aligned to something else and the normal world doesn't fit you correctly.  This is different from the usual contemporary rendition of elves as this gauzy ubermensch with beautiful hair, THANKS PETER JACKSON.  I may hate Legolas simply because I came up on the Rankin-Bass thing in which the elves really did look alien and unsettlingly different from humans, and not just like supermodels with pointy ears...  Anyway, I digress.

This is geared toward OSR games, and it's ostensibly for people like me, who don't mind Chocolate in their Peanut Butter and Rice Noodles.  OK, bad metaphor, but you'll find in this a Catman, a towering pacifist Rockman Warrior, Werewolves, Bugmen, Skaven-type Ratties, Weird Dwarfs, Androgyne Treepeople, Cosmic Elves, a variety of half-human races, and (most interesting, to my mind) a smattering collection of normal human subtypes.  I haven't incorporated it into my game at all, but I like it on paper, since I went on a Talislanta bender a couple of weeks ago (by the by, all that stuff is free!) in the interests of thinking about class and race differently.  It's pretty reasonably priced, and a good resource for a game that needs something slightly different.  It is well put-together, simple, and clean, with few typos and a scattering of public domain art.  Nothing too out of the ordinary, here, and it highlights that most gamers want bilateral symmetry and roughly humanoid shape in their fantasy RP.  Which reminds me, I need to work on that "WEIRD-ASS ALIEN RACES FOR FANTASY RP" thing, essentially a crib of stuff from Star Frontiers and some other more gonzo sources...  Alas, I have no originality in me, since there is nothing new under the suns.

Shorty Monster's guide to Historical weapons in RPGs by Shortymonster

I don't know, this one kept coming up as a recommendation for me, and the price was right, and then I had it on my wishlist to take a look at.  It's very brief at 12 pages, put together in a simple way, and very informative.  Shortymonster is evidently a history buff, and this is all background and no mechanics.  He has some pictures culled from open sources (I think) and you will think of things differently - particularly the use of two-handed swords and sling bullets - after you read this. It's worth it at the price it's offered at.  And it's good to support a wide range of biodiversity in publishers, I think.  My favorite part?  The information on the Murder Strike and the making of sling bullets.

That's all for now: next review will be The Croaking Fane and the wide range of stuff I've collected for the ASE (not that either of these will need reviews from me, but they are pretty fun)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tomb Rustler for DCC/Transylvanian Adventures



Tomb Rustler for DCC and Transylvanian Adventures

Anywhere the dead are interred with grave goods, there are those who do the work of the Cthonian gods by collecting those goods and spreading them again through the land of the living. Murderhobos, tomb-robbers, defilers – these terms carry serious negative connotations and sometimes sizable legal penalties. It may be that curses and fines and the occasional death by poisoning or trap are well-merited, but these hard-working men and women do not call themselves by the monikers so casually strewn like mud. Among themselves, they are “specialists”, “adventurers”, very rarely the more highfalutin’ “archaeologist”. They can be generous and free-spirited, taciturn and business-like, or miserly and cruel just as other men and women can be, but (as most professionals of any class) they all have a specific set of skills that come to bear on their circumstance.


Tomb Rustlers poach the goods of the dead and buried – sometimes on a small and parsimonious scale, sometimes in grand fashion. To do so, they often must defend themselves from danger and also be able to cope with the mechanical and physical challenges that face them. Further, a good Tomb Rustler knows which goods to take or leave, and the more long-lived ones know a little bit of the sorcerer's tongue so as to avoid curses, poison, and the magical methods by which treasures might be secured.

Action die progression – as Thief

Saving throws - as Fighter of the same level

Hit Points – they get d8 Hit Dice per level, hit points modified by Stamina. Any 1’s are rerolled – the lifestyle does not permit those of ill health and low fortitude.

Alignment: Any

Weapons: Club, mace, short sword, hammer, pick, spear, staff, lasso, crossbow, sling. Tomb Rustlers prefer one handed weapons that can be put to multiple uses besides murder e.g. bashing, prodding, poking, climbing, and setting off traps from a distance. In settings in which they are allowed, a pistol may be used.

Abilities:

Tempt Fate (optional): At any time, if the Ruin system is used, the character may opt to add a Ruin point to recover one Luck point, up to the character’s starting Luck score but not over

Favored save: pick 1 save at character creation, always add the character’s level to the save in addition to any other modifiers.

Pick 3 of the thiefly skills and progress in them as a thief of the same level and alignment of choice (not necessarily the same as the character’s – so for the best modifiers)

Lucky Strike - A Tomb Rustler may declare an attempt to Lucky Strike on any attack – essentially a Mighty Deed roll, on a 1d4 roll of 4 the strike described performs as a Mighty Deed does, although in order for it to take effect the Tomb Rustler must burn a point of Luck. The d4 roll _does not_ add to the to-hit roll but is merely a matter of chance. The attack occurs at the end of the combat round if successful, otherwise it is resolved in the usual fashion. If the Lucky Strike does not occur, then it is still possible for the attack to succeed, and it will not succeed if the Attack roll is insufficient to hit (but at the Judge's ruling other interesting events may unfold from the efforts)

Sense Danger – once per game session, the player may opt to re-roll an initiative roll, re-roll a missed strike, re-roll a saving throw, or re-roll a damage die rolled by an enemy against the character. This costs no Luck, and the better of the rolls (for the character!) is kept – so if the player opted to ask the Judge to reroll the Dragon’s d10 damage die which was originally a 9, and the second die roll was 2, the 2 would stand.

Use magic from item – for the purposes of using a magic item, the character’s alignment and class is considered the necessary one, if the player rolls _over_ the character’s current Luck score on the Action die. This is checked at every use of the item.

Use scroll - The character may cast a spell from a scroll at -2d from the Action Die. This does not impart any protection and may place the character unduly in harm’s way in certain situations.

Sense magic – the character may sense the presence of magic on an item held or touched with a successful Intelligence or Personality check (player’s choice). This imparts no protection and may activate certain items!

Appraisal – The character may determine within an order of magnitude the approximate value of an item with a successful Intelligence check by handling or inspecting it for 1 full turn. If two or more similar objects are appraised, one successful check will determine the more valuable of the two.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cryptopolis by Gaslight Living Document (Undead Document?)

It is some months since the theosophical catastrophe focused on a European cult of Christian heretics and their involvement with Super Science artifacts in 185_, and the world shows no signs of recovery or return to the humdrum affairs of yesterday.

A cataclysmic tide of unexplainable and dangerous phenomena has washed over Eastern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East. No communications with America are forthcoming at this time. The citizens of London, Paris, and Rome awoke one morning some months ago to find that a pale and clinging mist had enveloped their cities, through which no missives nor telegraph communications have yet breached. Londoners are plagued by Elves, Redcaps, and Goblins, who leak out of their sewer systems and haunt their basements and attics. People who leave through the mists seeking succor and safety are simply unaccounted for and vanish - certainly, none have returned to give news.

In the small territory of B_, (near the border with Wallachia), the shining modern city of S_ stands as a exemplar of patience and fortitude. Some weeks after the events of Dr. M_ P_ and his associates (the villainous S_ and diabolical R.S. and Q.R.), the town was quietly assailed on all sides by hordes of wandering corpses. The usually taciturn townspeople awoke to find that the very land around their hometown had changed abruptly. One morning the cool mists showed marble mausoleums and headstones stretching as far as the eye could see, where before there stretched placid woodlands and idyllic scenes. Delegations into the mists returned harried and wounded, and brought with them clouds of flies and fever. At night, awful things skulk through the rooftops and sewers and the townsfolk bar their doors and windows. Evil men do terrible things during the witching hours. The constabulary are flummoxed and men leave it in droves to join the militia or attempt to move their families away.

It is through some quirk of fate that B_ stands upon a junction of rail lines and was formerly lauded as a pleasant resort town in the summertime. A convention of miners, laborers, businessmen, and speculators was making plans for the World’s Fair, to commence here in the Spring of 185_. Although those plans are likely ruined, there appears to be a surplus of heroes and charlatans, able-bodied men and women all, willing to explore and beat back the dark forces that threaten the innocents amongst which they live. Strange abilities to protect the innocent have been awakened in some, and (on the contrary) some have begun to plot and conspire with evil forces for their own gain...

Essentially a horror-themed West Marches/HexCrawl thing using Dungeon Crawl Classics and the supplement Transylvanian Adventures. Drawing a good deal of influence from Hammer Horror, Zombie Movies, and Spaghetti Westerns. I guess you might say there is some Steampunk or whatever but that's not my usual cup o' diesel fuel.

Timeline/progression for character options (by week or game session, as opened up by the narrative)
1. Humans only, funnel
2. Transylvanian Adventures characters given priority or Thief/Warrior from Core Book
3. Characters from Masque of the Red Death/Go Fer Yer Guns (humans!)
4. Dwarves or Caliban choices (by vote)
5. Halflings or leftovers from 4
6. Wizards/Elves (hopefully not the cute Tolkieny kind)
7. Weird PCs like Clockwork Men and Mutants as reality breaks down altogether (open season)

Guns rules from Transylvanian Adventures/LoTFP/wherever - I will try throw in some character options and feats from Arthaus Ravenloft and other places as upgrades to the normal ones in TA. Right now I'm using a sweet little d20 based game called Go Fer Yer Gun! (available free on RPGNow!). There're some fun classes in there and fit the feel of a frontier thing and luckily it has no Weird West issues to complicate the problems.

Base rules will be DCC with some d20 stuff taped on. Every once in a while, you can opt for the 2d6 Dungeon World resolution but then you are in charge of the description and we can all agree on whether the consequences fit.

If you don’t have TA, then I will put something together to accommodate your character – everybody will get an upgrade at the right times as needed - probably a generic “Adventurer” class. Maybe we can start with access to Thieves and Warriors, only, for those who don’t have or want TA. Pop a top hat on that thief and you are (as they say) good to go.

If you pop in from nowhere into the continuity, you start at the average level as other PCs in the game rounded down then -1

No armor to start – some may become available to characters as you adventure. We’ll use the AC and Ruin and Death rules from TA since I think they are fun.

This will essentially be a Undead-flavored early-1800s Hex Crawl/West Marches around a pre-modern Eastern European city in which everybody speaks english, with no clerics to save your ass (unless you choose to put faith in the Christian God or the Evil Demiurge, or maybe the Perfected Christ which would be a blight on your soul). Sort of Barrowmaze let loose in and around the mounds and the city and through the forest and hills. Mausoleums and interconnected dungeons below and around the city. Sewers underneath to unfathomable depths, and new/ancient dwarf-haunted metropolises in the mountains. This’ll kinda be Wild Wild West crossed with Shadowrun in which the corporations are cults into bending reality and raising the dead

I will try to do things in dollars for ease and sanity.

Will have an equipment price list up soon. Will likely use the LoTFP grindhouse equipment since I like that for ease, but CoC 1890s or GFYG can be good, or Masque of the Red Death for Ravenloft

If you choose the Thief/Warrior/Generic Adventurer option for level 1, you can take a sword-cane or a percussion cap pistol or rifle to start (your choice). Maybe as the thing wears on we can get six shooters and serious gunplay since I am seeing a shit ton of rules put out right now for guns in d20 systems.

Bayonets might be handy.

Standard starting kit:

1. Kerosene lantern & ½ pint of oil /1d3 torches
2. Flint and tinder
3. Knife
4. Bible/Cross/Holy-Symbol
5. Choose 1: brass spyglass (see that zombie close up, ) or magnifying glass (+2 to search/detect)

Chargen:
3d6 scramble how you will.

You can move points to your prime requisite at a 2:1 cost (not funnel characters - they get what they get)

+Scott Mathis has given me some informal leeway to add some upgrades from TA to this document for handy reference but that'll need to come later

For flavor, I think it would be really cool if you would pick some of your funnel characters/1st level/whatever and think about them in this way, in terms of terrible secrets

This is the link upon which that document was based, further it's a spin-off of some French thing (maybe +Vincent Quigley can offer a good translation of it).

Funnelers get max HP to start.

When levelling, roll 2 hit dice and pick the better of them to add to your new total.
Combat:
Roll d20 init every round by character, after declaring your action (I know, I know). Adjust by Agility mod. The heart tells me this is the old way and the right way. Funnelers do it by player, and then go in Agility order. Ties determined by Agility and then by Luck - ties with PCs and NPCs/Monsters always go to the PCs - think of it as a perk.

You can opt to wait to go later in round order

I trust you on the dice.  We may be able to use Roll20.net down the road but I don't plan to do it up front.

I debate going until 0 hit point and then using the Ruin score as presented in TA to do the Ruin-based Luck check. I like this method and want to see how it's going to work out. If you like, you can stick with the "Turn over the body" method, but you still get a Ruin score.

(Heroic Option) You can stay up and fighting until -1/2 of your Stamina score - every time you are hit you will take critical damage and injuries at this point, so you can make it heroic and have a gruesomely destroyed corpse.

If your body cannot be recovered or otherwise disappears, we can say you can roll 2d6 on my handy Mordheim/Necromunda based OUT-OF-ACTION chart to see what happens. Maybe you fell in a hole and crawled back to town. You could get more XP this way! I do it like this to keep it pulpy but there is a possibility that you are actually dead dead.

Psychology
Fear and Horror saves: As much as I dig the pulp tone, in any scary game I think fear and insanity are for the good. The Arthaus Ravenloft (and the d20 CoC) had pretty good rules for this, and the idea is that there's a DC for the Fear save and you try to make it with your Intelligence (maybe pick at creation/exposure if you want to use Int/Sta/Pers/Luck?) and if you fail to make it then you are stunned that round for starters. If you blow it by 5, then you get a minor temporary insanity. If you miss it by 10 then you can pick a minor permanent insanity or a major temporary insanity, durations influenced by circumstance, roll play, and player consent. Good role play could be worth Luck, reduction of Ruin scores, or XP or all or whatever. I'll work with you. Attacked by frog demons and go insane? Vow with megalomanic intensity to kill all frogs/Bogbugbilz whatever... That's a hook to good role-play down the road.

Magic
(more later on this)

Other Useful Links
http://www.fraternityofshadows.com/TheVault/MasqueWebEnhancement_byRucht_Lilavivat.pdf

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Progress - Cracking the Whip on The Hounds of Halthrag Keep

It may seem, with all the games I take part in (flash forward to tomorrow's post maybe) and the fatherhood I am doing, like I must never get anything else done.  This is mostly true. I've given up on Spelunky, for example.  However, keen readers, worry not!  For I am creeping incrementally toward the goals I've set, not nearly as fast as I'd like but nevertheless the words and ideas are falling out apace.

Don't believe me?  Well, hurr hurr hurr, I am making arrangements for cover art and interior illustrations!  I have written (as I said before) all the Random Encounters and the modified DCC rules to use in the course of solo play.

Here is the node-web of fighty events that attach themselves to the somewhat more baroque and tangled one that is the main plot of the game book:

The tangled web I've weaved.
I've left the resolution low so that you can't see any clever solutions.  Purple nodes in this diagram mean "questionable ends" in which the player survives but it's not an ideal ending (to me).  Red boxes IIRC lead to other entries in the main quest line.  Black is, naturally, an ignominious death - like when the cruel gods of the Choose Your Own Adventures squashed you into oblivion and made you feel foolish.  I think the dark blue ones are clues or items, but I'm not telling.

The two bigger branches represent "night encounters" vs. "day encounters" and rely upon a pretty crude time-keeping device that affects the states of some entries.  The whole of Halthrag Keep is going to be littered with junk, space rocks, rusty weapons, singed Black Grimoires, dead bodies, the occasional silver coin, and (of course) titanic struggles for the souls of men and women in the cosmic battle of Law versus Chaos.

If you're keen to see it, maybe I can drop the text of the first couple entries to wet your whistle, Adventurer!

I assure you, if you don't despise Diptherio from the very start of the chase, you will by the time you climb out of the river, fleeing for your life!

list of PC casualties for 2012/2013

A blow-by-blow of the horde of temporary fantasy personas I've assumed since returning to RPGs in late 2012.  In rough approximation of order:



Kal Arath (Barbarian Prince rip off) - killed by a bite from a dog-sized spider in the IRON CANYONS. My first PC death since 1995, if I recall correctly.  The sadness of his untimely youthful demise, struggling to reach the open air above the labyrinthine tunnels, snapped my fevered brain and I determined to exact my revenge upon +Dave Younce in the most baroque and excruciating way.  If you are +Dave Younce, please unread this joke I just made.  Also, later on I had a pretty fun Dwarfy conquistador who was fairly bad-ass with an arquebus.  Don something or other.

In an Christmas Eve 2012 game with Jurgen M. and Josha P.A. - I played a gender bending DCC Wizard and plumbed the lair of the Santa Claws with my dwarf associate (module by Daniel Bishop).

A failed funnel group that I couldn't keep up with in the DCC Barrowmaze game of the same +Daniel Bishop .  There was a Halfling merchant, a grave digger, a very pious turnip farmer, and a female dwarf blacksmith, I think.  This could be wrong, though - if it's wrong, those are from another game I played in around January or so.  So 8 funnelers in this confused bunch, whose only actions were to run into the room late when I didn't keep up with the posts.

Vens Kral Vathos - played once in the Barrowmaze Open Table by +Jason Paul McCartan .  I say that poor connectivity wrecked the game for me but it was the brutally unresponsive interface of Roll20.net and my first time on the client end of a VTT, so I couldn't manage it.  I'm impatient.  The upshot was, the community layout and structure was/is inspiring.

There was a big, mean, White Ape Banana Marshall in the post-apocalypse of +Kyrinn S. Eis.  The sliding around in the icy tunnels destroying humanoids was a highlight of the year.

Doctor Varlguise - a murderous and insane plastic surgeon in the Dying Aereth, DM'ed by +James Bennett 

A couple of funnel meats in +Vincent Quigley's Stonehell game (the female one was an agitator prone to leaving subversive pamphlets in newly emptied treasure chests). There was also a burly proto-fighter but I don't recall too much other than that they almost killed a giant iguana-type "Dragon"

A funnel dwarf tunnel runner - killed by a gladiator.  Also, half of a twin pair of sure-to-be-future gladiator team in +James Bennett's islandy hex crawl

At Camp Nerdly I played In A Wicked Age and ran a house of ill repute as a prim and proper Englishwoman poisoner, Jillianmaybe Somethingorothershirestone (Chloe Moretz clone?).  Also, a feisty martial artist killed before his first real match in +Don Corcoran's Burning Wheel .  I even LARPed there as a kid who was physically abused by his alcoholic parents (Danny maybe?).  The In A Wicked Age game was an eye-opener.



There was a funnel group that had a lot of promise in +Alex Chalk's test game. The shrine-sweeper would have been an excellent cleric had he not been murdered by a spidermanspider. The others ended up being a lot of fun for a one-shot, mostly since I tried to swindle Clay's merchant with one and tripped balls on hallucinogenic mushrooms with the surfer guy type the rest of the time.  Big SnakeArm Hands of Colubra Hugs brah, we're gonna make it through this bad trip, mmkay?

Maybe in November or December 2013 there was Forthelbert, lawful cleric of day old baked goods in +Darien Mason's one-shot (maybe a two-shot).

+Evan Lindsey opened up the Gatehouse of the ASE and let in my most recent White Ape warrior, whose name I cannot already recall, but it were much enthused and smashy.

James ran me through a Dungeon World scenario with some nice people in which I played a thief who used the sprawling bureaucracy of the city as a cover for swindling and gallavanting

In this year's reboot of the Iron Canyon, I started with Walger Cheesebeak - a ratling forager, and his grungy buddy Scherandus, a plainsman tracker who is prone to heart-eating.  Also, the grim and thewsy H'ak Rathis, Vulture Spirit Shamaness (now wielding the ancient and wicked-sharp spear Agony's Servant). Strangely, she is the only character I've wanted to play twice since like 1993.

Got into a game with D. Kovacs and a crew of heavy DCC Stoutfellas, all Lawful (but evil) dwarfy Jersey/Boston/NYC type gangsters.  Sadly, I am supposed to be traveling this weekend so I might not be able to see the end of this one.  Fishbit Burris, cleric of the God of Deep Waters, who loves sacrifices in the form of bodies with concrete shoes

The other night I played as Mr. Muggins, student Chronomancer and the bastard son of a low-level Lantern Archon, struggling to break into the seedy criminal world of the City of Dis.  Coincidentally, he was co-opted by the Black Legion, an anti-construct and summoned monster activist group, pretty early into his studies at the Celestial Uni.

In retrospect, I played a great number of one-off games, and it does conclusively show that I have absolutely no allegiance to any particular character.  Perhaps more importantly it also reveals that I will enter into and drop out of any friend's campaign at the drop of a hat.  For that, I am woefully sorry and am attempting to amend my ways.  My friends and I kick around a lot of good campaign ideas and none seem to last very longish - maybe 'cause I don't often play in their games regularly and they also flit about from good idea to good idea like I do.  Maybe the ideas are hare-brained, I don't know.

On the other hand, I ran a great number of games in 2013 of a couple of different stripes.  I won't list offhand the player characters that I remember from those games since it would beggar description (I think it ends up being 50 or 60 different individuals whose details are spotty).  Of course, there were a low number of (short lived!) NPCs, my favorites of which were the three Barrow Harpy sisters that were "befriended" by Roy the Radish and a crew of hapless n00bs (one of whom may have demi-harpy offspring running around the mound surface ****shudder****)

I don't know what the purpose of this is, other than that it's a follow up to my WORKS FOR ME DM'ing style.  We all get our fun in different ways. I guess mine is kind of non-committal.



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Follow Up with New Spell - Imbue Wild Spirit

In my previous post, I proposed a spell to snatch a wild spirit and put it under the caster's control.  Here is a DCC version in PDF form...

Any public summonsing will result in immediate incarceration, unless they are HAWT

I tried to keep a little of the danger and a lot of the random-ness of the LoTFP version, and added in a mechanic whereby you can stick the spirit in something physical and also a method to keep summoning the same spirit with a little added risk (sure to bite you in the ass eventually).

Again, thanks to all the weird little psyches that I twerked this from, including but not limited to +Rachel Ghoul +Ramanan S +James Raggi and especially +Claytonian JP and +Doyle Tavener who filled in a couple of blanks in Table 1.  I don't know what "Thrushing" is - some fungal infection, I guess?

Let me know what you think in the comments, or not, as you prefer.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Whacked Elemental Golems and Amuck Conjurations

I'm often behind the curve on stuff.  I mean, I'm fairly new to the OSR thing and hadn't really played from the period of 1994 or so until late 2012.  Case in point: I'm only now getting around to digesting the Lamentations of The Flame Princess: Grindy Edition by the esteemed +James Raggi.  A couple of weeks ago everybody was talking about the awesome and disturbing and suitably dangerous Summoning Spell from the magic section - let me be clear before I go on that I think it's a piece of good work and a boon to Roleplayers everywhere.  Mr. +Ramanan S made a cruelly easy automator link to the thing that is breathtakingly fast and sexy.  I think I dig that the thing is chock full of opportunities for meta-gaming based on the high end results.  Say what you want about it, but switching DMs in the middle of a game (I think he did this in the OSR Bundle of Holding module) - not only do I think it would be doable and fun, but it's a great premise for a disastrous conjuration.  Essentially, the Universe doesn't work the way that your usual god wants it to and the New God is calling the shots, now.  I think I'm conflating two separate works, but anyways.

So +Rachel Ghoul put a thing up about "Concept Elementals" - which you can find here.  Briefly, instead of just the traditional elementals of Earth, Wind, Fire and Disco, there are elementals of a great number of abstract concepts.  Rachel mentions Love, Wealth, Friendship (I think), Blogging, Deceit, Time, War - I don't know, but the idea is that these things - abstract concepts can be summoned and embodied.  Now, the speck of fun I put into the stew was that not only do all constructs/golems/clockwork/steampunk whatever machines need some animating principal, but let us say that the Forces That Be love - just Love - to send answers to requests from spell casters of any kind. low level or not.  And this is tricky bidness, if you get my drift.  Low level summoners can't really control what comes through, but it will animate whatever vessel you prepare for it and do what you tell it for a certain price - in line with its needs and motivations.  You could put some human/elf/dwarf/lizardman in your Golem, if you want, but that's another spell and this thing can be all kinds of motivated and dangerous in ways a human persona would not be.  Appeal to Yan'C'Bin, or Cryonax, or Ithaqqua, or whatever, and you're headed in the right direction...

Turns out, there are a wide range of awesome Summoning Adjuncts to your standard run o' the mill rules.  I recommend the Swords and Wizardy: Eldritch Weirdness series (came with my OSR Bundle of Holding) and maybe any of the weird Tekumel Stuff, or just fuck it - chuck in some Carcosa or GW random mutation things, piled on top of your standard run of the mill elemental summoning spell.  I don't have 3.5 or Pathfinder, but I do have L/L and AD&D 1st edition and a lot of other crap laying around, so maybe we can do an easy peasy Random Elemental Summoning into Small Vessel with No Chance for Good Outcomes, Wizard Level 1

Fucking around with a couple of dice and a handful of charts could get you Wood Elemental, with Fecundity and Water, giving you thus:

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Or a Fire Elemental with Heartbreak motivations and Jealousy, or a Time Elemental with Impatience and powers of Disinvigoration (she might have sex with you real fast until you were a pile of dust and wouldn't take no for an answer).  None of these needs must end in combat, and they could and it would be swift and easy since if you're using the LoTFP thing it's the equivalent of a Blood or Shit Demon and maybe a HD or two.  But, think if you could get that thing on your side by playing to its needs and motivations in RP?  Instead of cleaving it into pieces?  Could it be a Patron for your DCC Wizard?  It pops in to discharge its obligation to you and then dispels the forces that hold it on the Prime Material Plane?  Could its services be traded to a thief to rust a lock or some bars to pieces?  If you could tie it up in a sword, or trick it to stay in there for a few rounds, you could do like the old BRP Elric! game and have a iron sword become briefly magical in a very, very weird way.  I ought to just say that all magic items are this, in my campaign.  Some crazy ass elemental spirit or demon locked in your item, just itching to get out and take it out on you.  Hmm, I always push Realms of Crawling Chaos on people since I like it, but since I read that I realize that all my magic-items since have been really cursed artifacts like in that show in the 1990s, uh - Melrose Place.  I don't think people appreciate that without Robey doing that thing there would be no Mulder and Scully, incidentally.

One night in Bangkok makes about 4 hours of play, 5 or 6 good encounters, and 6 XP

This reminds me I need to grab those Reaction tables from the 1st ed. DMG or maybe its Moldvay B - I think a lot of folks want some handy dandy random charts.  Fuck, I like 'em, I'll tell you what, but it seems I use them less and less lately except in a tight spot and even then my desk/drive is so cluttered I rarely can remember where I put it.

Place a bookmark in "Self-Geas" #497, right behind Tcho Tcho as PC for DCC (DONE) and also +Jen Brinkman and +Bob Brinkman 's fucking righteous form-fillable .PDF character sheets which I was going to do I swear it but he did it anyways, and Ygg bless the self-taught man and woman

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dungeon Master M.O. - what works for me (longish so sue me)

A discussion on G+ prompted me to think about what has worked and what hasn't for my online play via Hangouts (thanks to +Claytonian JP  for the idea).  I've run lots of DCC this way, and sprinkled in some Dungeon World-y bits, with a couple of mutants and a black streak of Carcosa.


  1. Keep it to less than 5 people, DM included, if possible.  In an OSR game with lots of henchies, or a 5 person funnel, this can get pretty wild and hard to keep track of with more. If you happen to like a VTT like Roll20.net this can really bog down when everybody's moving their little icons.  In that case, you better just scrap the icon thing altogether, although it does have benefits (dice, chat stuff). I think Roll20'd be better if users could save personal macros, which (fuck if I know) they might be able to do, but I never think of it - even when I was dropping the fee every month.
  2. Keeping track.  I go right across the little name bar at the bottom.  Divide one piece of paper into columns corresponding to player.  Then...
  3. For each player, have them introduce their characters by name and occupation (for funnels), or by name and class and a blurb.  Nothing too elaborate, just enough for me to jot down in the player's column the name and class and (possibly) Luck score, just in case.  If the Wizard is evil or something, and Chaotic, then I make a note of it.  Dogs and familiars and companion animals go in the column.  Henchies don't get a Luck score, but I try to get a feel for how fast I want them to die (men-at-arms and cultists may as well paint a target on the front, unless they are particularly fun or you can and will do a funny voice)
  4. I like games in which resource management is an issue, especially torches and lanterns.  One, when the lights go out naturally or on purpose due to water or wind or darkness spells, and only the demihumans can see and the random encounter roll says the cultists are herding a group of undead your way, well, a brief pause can motivate players. Do you want to relight the torches?  Hunker down and ready for combat in the darkness?  Gygax said that no meaningful campaign can happen without time tracking - I use the Labyrinth Lord one that's out there with the little check boxes but there are more elaborate ways.  Two, I mean, that shit costs money and my dungeons are generally stingy as all hell.  Your guy is gonna work his ass off for full plate in this thing and I'm gonna soak you for gold like a Cathayan Silk Trader.
  5. I try to keep it to 1 night = 1 delve and back to town, unless multiple delves happen owing to briefness/serious casualties/need for more flasks of oil.  This usually turns into about 5 or 6 good encounters in 3 or 4 hours of play.
  6. I try to keep the game calendar and the real-world calendar aligned, and the weather in the game is for the most part what my weather looked like today.  This saves me a couple of charts and shit, and if a guy Spellburns 25 hit points, we all know when he'll be back to full strength - I ask that the players remember this stuff and be honest (I have a vague memory for this stuff and like to say O PODRICK YOUR STRENGTH IS STILL LOW SINCE YOU BURNED IT ALL ON THAT COLOR SPRAY LAST WEEK, RIGHT? MINUS THREE TO YOUR ATTACKS HURR HURR HURR)
  7. Never forget to check for wandering monsters!  Even if it's a little old school, the clatter of dice every other turn or when Frilbo and Dergolips the Elf bump into the empty cask or when PCs (i.e. players) are arguing, I mean, that's magic.  That's motivation, right there.  Unity, as one stand together.  No quibbling and/or pouting.  There are some schools of thought that say "ITS AN ART!  THE DM SHOULD PLAN ALL THE ENCOUNTERS!"  I say, and you can quote me, fuck that.  
  8. If I have a group of folks I trust and that are good roleplayers, I'm almost always inclined to go Dungeon Scout's Honor on rolls.  I used to say that St. Issek abhors a fudger, but Ygg and Justicia forgive when the fudge is for the sake of dramatic tension and epic awesomeness.  On the other hand, that fucker that pulls the Mighty Deed off every goddamn round, or regularly gets 19s and 20s on the spellcheck roll gets to use the online dice roller in Roll 20.  Nobody's dice are that good, and I trust and love the players but Death and Judgment are Omnipresent and waiting like Vultures for those that cheat their friends of drama.  This is a little paradoxical, but hey.  I have recently begun to fudge dice DOWNWARD when I'm not running things, so that this one green d20 I have doesn't irritate people (I mean, I got like 4 18s and 19s in a row the other night and it looked suspicious to me, also).  For DCC, the Clerical Disapproval and Wizard Corruption is (to my mind) nothing to be afraid of and is just as good - if not better than - straight exemplary successes.
  9. You gotta put up with a rules lawyer every so often - it is good for the Spirit and builds character. Hold on there, Squire.  We'll get back to this.
  10. Turns are turns.  You go in order from left to right, according to the icon I have at the bottom of the Hangout.  I try to be firm.  We announce the turn, I give a description (maybe longer if I have been drinking) of what's happening, mark my little hashmark on the light/spell duration thingamabob, and I try to do my best to keep shit flowing smoothly.  If a person is droning on and on and sucking up the spotlight the whole time, I try to snip it a little and keep everybody in the game.  If that one guy is not talking too much and his cleric seems sad or whatever, "Hey Goodbert the Wise, what are you doing this turn?"  Communing with Justicia, asking for guidance?  Poking/gently caressing that sarcophagus?  Day dreaming of the elven thief lass with the fiery hair and regretting your vows of celibacy?  Awesome!  +1 Luck, sir.  Now look lively.  It's the DM's gig to keep everybody in the game and participating, and to keep it moving.  If some fucker that wandered in to the game is running over everybody's good time, then you gotta be in a leadership position to quell it.  I mean, nobody likes a tyrannical overlord asshole, but it's not telephone conversation: it's for groups (with obvious exceptions)
  11. If I can roll a bunch of dice at once, I try to. For example, we discuss that 5 turns pass, requiring 3 encounter rolls, I roll 3d6 instead of one at a time.  Similarly, it's a good idea in big upbeat combats to try to do an attack and damage (and deed die) together, just to move the thing along.  When you are a player, be ready to shout out your shit and the result and pipe down unless you've been slain or something., in which case gurgle feebly for help.  Nobody likes that guy "MMMMMMMMMM.   OKKAAYYYY.  WELL, CAN I GET TO THAT ONE RATICENTIBLIN, THE ONE WITH 1HP?  IS IT IN RANGE OF MY LONGBOW FROM HERE?  OR CAN I RUN UP AND WHACK IT AND THEN RETREAT ANdronedronedronedronedronedronezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz".  I mean, your Barbarian is frothing at the lips in a swansong of hellfury, and this guy is mincing about asking about how many actions is uncorking his potion and string his bow and shooting?  I mean, come on, man (NEXT ROUND YOU ARE AT THE END OF THE INITIATIVE CHAIN).  Lately, I have weighed asking everyone to roll initiative every turn like in the old days but that's generally too much work for my players and we... You know what, I'm droning.  Sorry.
  12. I don't think DCC calls for a screen, since I put the onus on players that have the game to refer to their own charts, but I do have a rarely-used binder that has some random treasure things and I made a couple of easy-to-refer to monster charts for Barrowmaze.  DCC has lots of random charts and I think maybe the handiest one would be the Turning Undead since I can never remember that stuff. The core mechanic's pretty simple at the heart of it.  YMMV if you have some big and bogged down thing with bloaty tentacles and such - I tried to hack a 3.5 version Shaman into a L/L Druid the other day and fuck, I don't know what an Awareness Feet is.  Fuck it, like a +3 to listen for goblins or something?
  13. We've taken to using the chat bar in all the online games to post initiative rolls, names of characters and NPCs, important loot (and unimportant loot), whatever needs a temporary record to refer back to.
  14. In combat, not every miss needs an edit - that is, not all the shots need be described.  I say "A solid blow.  A ringing blow.  It's staggered."  Keep the players guessing the AC, since you know they are keeping track on the other side of the screen over there.  A particularly dramatic slaying ought to be optioned to the player "Okay Parthenus the Warrior, how do you slay this thing?"  If somebody won't do it (but why?  this is an RPG!) then it's your cool.  A droog or minion can just crumple into a puddle of blood, moaning.  But serious deaths need some gore and shrieking.
  15. I like to not tell players NO and use a simple Improv approach to things.  I try not to say what players are doing unless no one says anything, or else their declared actions don't take up the allotted passed time.  I will work with you as hard as I can to get that thing to go if it's fun, except if you are breaking the implicit or explicit rules - even then if you can give a plausible explanation, or a fun roleplayed one that fleshes out the shared narrative or your character, or the relationship with other characters, fuck it, let's see what happens.  We have dice and time and we are ADVENTURING, lets go out on a limb a little bit and bend these rules to cracking so that we can see what kinda fun comes through.
  16. What I said about rules-lawyers before, I mean, for some folks the rules-lawyers thing IS the game, and I try to be friendly and accommodating but all it takes is for you to squeeze my balls or pout or back track to an earlier scene to recover a couple of hit points or experience or copper pieces, and then (I hate to be a dick this way) I take a business-like, hard-boundary thing.  I try not to bullshit and I like to think I can back down when I am being a rat-fuck asshole, but if it comes to it next time maybe you're welcome to join but I won't tap you a couple of times before the game starts because we already have 5 players, man, and you said you might have something else going on.
  17. On the other hand, you sort of need to let more charismatic PLAYERS be good leaders, also.  It's a magical thing to watch when everybody is polite and funny and having a good time and everybody steps up and zings and riffs and I don't have to be some field marshal but rather a conductor.  I don't give a fuck how many XP you got or gold or whatever.  When the stories and jokes flow like cheap wine and we can all give each other a knowing wink down the road, that's why I run games.  Also, I'm a power-hungry ego maniac, but I mean, that's a given a priori thing we all agree.
  18. I don't like FLAILSNAILSing, as a matter of preference.  One reality at a time ought to be pretty exciting for your average low-magic grungy dungeon murderhobo.  I think it's poor form for a guy to have a pack of comrades scrabbling for iron rations and go off to Dimension X and come back 30 XP on with a Vorpal Hammer and Plate Armor of Goldbricking.  Causes bad feelings.  In me.  When I see all my hordes of monsters laid low I just get bitchy.  I had a pretty good discussion some months back when some guys schooled me and set me straight and called me out on my narrow-mindedness about it.  For this I thank them, and the odd guy with nothing to do that comes wandering in, as long as you're existentially compatible and not Mann Rider when we are malnourished dungeon raiders (actually happened once), I mean, hey.  Cling to your long-developed narrative if you like.  Ahem.  God Bless Mann Rider, BTW.  I am trying to stay true to my "try a new random character every play session thing" - it's working out lately.  I think people ought to try it.  Anyways, more on that some other time.
  19. Lastly, stinginess with treasure and magic makes for a richer experience, in my humble opinion.  A glut of gains easily gotten becomes under-appreciated and the next thing you know, you've written some droning awful high-minded treatise...  I mean, if you're gonna give a magic-item, make it one the PCs are loathe to use except in the most dire of circumstances (they always sell this shit when they get back to town rather than try to seduce the bound murderous water nymph, but hey, it woulda been fucking awesome to watch in play).  This is a Gygaxian truism but it's not going to hold for all games. That's it, I'm out.  


Also, tonight I found a bunch of cool Gamma World shit at:


Which I think can easily become part of the ASE/Carcosa/DCC/Star Frontiers/Mutant Future thing that is dribbling around in my ears.  I've sucked up so much OSR stuff that now I am stuck in some pastiche of 1981,which is okay I guess but I really need to check FIASCO and Monsterhearts off the old list.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tcho Tchos as Player Races in Dungeon Crawl Classics

I proposed this DCC rules tweak some months ago, and it's been waiting in my "drafts" since then, another unfinished thing that weighs on me on a tiny way every time I look at the list. To prove it's entirely possible to crank bloggery out without recourse to fluff and Groupthink, here's what you get on my lunch break

I had a discussion about alternate character classes that could be used to muck over the Tolkien-y Token Hobbit/Halfling that drips from fantasy roleplaying. Frankly I understand neither it nor the elf - for some reason I'm not big on dwarves but I like 'em better than the others.  With a literally infinite number of bookmarks for "small/cute/quick/deft", why do people want one that is essentially a little human?  Dwarves have their thing and gnomes have theirs - one good thing that DCC gives halflings is the Luck thing so every party wants a token halfling to keep them alive when the chips are down.

Dave allows skaven/ratlings in his iron canyons thing

I also thought about froglings, bug-folks, Yazirians and Dralasites a la the Star Frontiers game.  Speaking of Thri-Kreen and Vrusk, they make good elf replacers. Just me.

I'd find a copy of Talislanta if I could.

Anyways - back to the original premise. Tcho Tcho!  Evil halfling cannibals!  Steeped in magic and madness and white ganglion paste!

My idea was to have the Luck burn work in a manner opposite from the Halfling's - that is, burn a Luck point and get double the amount to reduce rolls that impact the player character or party members, e.g. attacks by enemies/spell rolls. You have to have a by-the-book DM and pretty good trust and the agreement that once the roll is known you can reduce it with the burn and purchase.

I haven't drawn up a document like I did with the Deep One Hybrid - that was sort of a "whole cloth" thing and this is just twerkin'

Maybe I could throw in a "quick regeneration of Luck points with the consumption of human/demi-human flesh" mechanic but I think I just did it.  Maybe access to one bad spell every couple of levels and some way to add a greater amount of corruption associated with casting (increase the corruption threat to include successes and not-disastrous failure)

Blow guns, garrotes, sacrificial knives, poison (needs poison skills, obviously)

I even went so far as to draw a thing for this when I was thinking of it... It's around here somewhere. Will add captions and fun links for later.

Scratch off "Tcho Tcho" and add Yazirian and Dralasite and Vrusk. Me and Evan worked out a Mok already

They file their teeth down, those Tcho Tchos, for bitin'

Edit: add on (possible halfling alternates) Robear-berbils, any of the shorty races from the Fiend Folio, mephits (if you're adventurous), goblins/kobolds/redcaps/kappa/Tenku
Ewoks
Gummi bears (duh!)
I proposed a couple of anthropomorphic animals a couple of weeks ago (Otter, fox, raccoon, possum, armadillo)

I don't know, these aren't even particularly creative ideas but they beat the endless parade of Frilbo Saggville-Hagginses

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Iron Ration, Magic Cheese, and Hardtack Adventure Cooking

(I'm too self-important to take part in the various blog roll things, so here's something I finagled whilst my daughter rejected my mango-based overtures and then fell asleep on my chest)

Disclosure: In my previous multiclass advancements, my career was "cook", and although I don't cook professionally anymore I still dig food scholarship.  I'm the exact opposite of a "foodie", though.  I like to know a lot about cooking but my favorite foods are ones that other people cook.  I just had to destroy my entire kitchen pantry owing to infestation by either Oat Beetles or Flour Mites, or maybe gremlins, so I am thinking of food value and preservation against spoilage, lately.  Coincidentally, exploration in the Iron Canyons of +Dave Younce and play in +Evan Lindsey 's entry to the ASE got me thinking about what to eat and when, when you are hacking and slashing in your favorite fantasy world.  Frodo and Sam had Lembas, and Gollum had fish raw-and-wriggling but,
These are actual pictures of the bugs in my kitchen pantry
What does a party of murderhobos (STOUTFELLAS?) eat if they are going to spend the night in the deep, dark damp of a megadungeon?  Why, the classic Iron Ration, of course!  But what the heck is an Iron Ration?  I vaguely remember that this question used to course like Greek Fire through the letter pages of Dragon when I was a kid and I am sure it put an end to many friendships.  Not mine, my ended friendships were usually over politics or girls or magic shields.

finished polishing their pickelhaubs, the kaiser's men repose

I may be giving out misinfo, here, but it looks like the Iron Ration was an actual steel or tin can, sometimes full of cakes of beef-paste-enhanced wheat paste, and maybe a couple of cigarettes and a chocolate bar.  A brick of dehydrated super-dense bread was common, too.  As a bonus, in earlier days you could have opted to boil your hardtack in your coffee, and either kept the maggots that floated out and eaten them or discarded them - as you prefer.  As a bonus bonus, if you have intestinal parasites, eating a couple of cigarettes might stun them long enough for you to expel them the old fashioned way without recourse to a cleric.  Ahh, the things you learn on historical tours and via your collection of Army Survival Training guides.

Many of the historical cooking links for the ancient world and middle and ye darke ages have vanished like tears in the rain, but there are good ones every so often.  Thanks to the black hole of Wikipedia for the following:

This here for the distinctly American horror story of famine and failed logistics during a very trying period.  Bonus words:

  1. Skillygallee - fry your wet brick of wheat paste in some bacon fat, soldier!
  2. Coosh - the same, except it's like cornmeal mush and beef jerky hash
  3. the X-ration? - mentioned in the military annals but my attention span falters and I can only assume it was reserved for supersoldiers

Roman Soldiers carried their own mess kits AND rations

I was gonna put up a Hardtack recipe, or maybe a Lembas recipe, but you don't want to eat any of that stuff, real or imagined.

Whoops!  I didn't realize this was gauche
I hate elves.  Did I mention this?

Instead, you are geased to try these links for much cheese-based magical eatery and Wampus Country cheese magic and of course a bevy of magical ingredients for your consumption

(BTW I purchased the PDF of the Anomalous Subsurface Environment at lulu.com - good stuff, and for bonus points get you the Obelisk of Forgotten Memory which is also great... going to need to wait for ASE2, though)

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