Thursday, May 22, 2014

Missing a goal

Owing to this illness and general sloth and neglect - I'm not going to make my submission date for my thing.

It's cool - it'll be submitted.

End of summer. No question.

Monday, May 12, 2014

DCC Rogue's Gallery 1 : Henchpersons and Hirelings

Screwing around with Excel 2003 and InDesign CS4, I offer you a thing.

You ever need hirelings, schmucks, schmendricks, red-shirts, paeons, or the hoi polloi?

In a jiffy?

I threw this thing together while the baby was watching this Sesame Street thing that I no longer have the capacity to keep from playing in my head THANK YOU ERNIE YOU ORANGE BASTARD

Anyways, it's a 50-person Rogue's Gallery of DCC Henchmen/-women or Hirelings, or "Funnel Characters Who have not yet/will never graduate" but who might one day ascend into usefulness or be merely chopped into smithereens. Nobody sports HP better than 4, since I lack the wherewithal to learn how to do that in Excel since I have no technical juju but only a limited ability to immediately find what I need

Two characters are close approximations of some I have played as funnels, and one is just a wink wink

There was a column on the right in the original draft labelled "Condition" for when they were killed but it's not necessary.  Kill them, cross them off.  Print it again, change the names.  Who cares?  Meat for the grinder, grist for the mill.

These are Hapless Henchmen for you.  Maybe I'll make a bunch at a time going forward.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

a new DCC Class, the Skate Hero

You know, lately I've been thinking a great deal about Christian Slater.  Not that guy that you may have seen in, uh, that movie based on that game.  The young one, the one that lives forever in your memory as Happy Harry Hard-On, or the brain-damaged monkey heart dishwasher that loved Vinnie's girlfriend so tragically, or the one that blew up around all those stuck up twats.  Yeah, that one.

That's only coincidental to my post, and merely tangentially interesting for you, but here, I will throw you a picture of the penultimate moment, the practical climax, of a bullshit skate movie that was a formative influence for me in my yutes.  Observe:

Maybe a video clip woulda been better.  It's better.  Let me describe - seeing his romantic interest, the old man with the gun, held hostage by a young foreign Communist radical girl, young hair-empowered Christian Slater flings himself wildly off the top of a LA off ramp, hurtling through the air to a 3 point touchdown onto the face of everyone involved, breaking his neck and ending a promising career in demagoguery and minor hooliganisms...

That's not that great, is it?

I'm about to let you in on my secret little stash of nostalgia happiness, that tided me over between my early forays into Moldvay D&D and C64 gaming, and upon which I wobbily glided through my early teen years and suffered many, many road rashes.  I skate boarded really badly, and my family was really into roller-skating, and thus my knees are toast and I have trouble squatting down to pick things up.  MOAR importantly, though, I read a great deal of comics, and for a very brief time in the mid and late 1980s, these things coalesced into a skateboard comic known as Thrasher.  Much of it was drek and terribly written, and then, separate from that, is THRASH GORDON.

Somehow, they got this person (a man? a woman?  a mad cyberpunk prophet?) to pen and ink and write a story of an oppress'd young man, driven to surreptitiously practice the thing he loves against the law and the wishes of the corporate overlords, undermining with his skateboard the very fabric of society and controlling robots with his mutated skater-brain in a bleak, post-apocalyptic future sort of like Max Headroom crossed with Mad Max but with many more killer robots.  I KNOW!  It's as terrific as it sounds.  I have a personal quest to find all 9 issues of Thrasher comics VERY SLOWLY, so that all of the story can be revealed to me in a full flowering of perfection, but I have a couple now and vaguely remember being blown away at 13.  Here's part of a panel, and let me tell you, I don't easily share much more than this because as far as I am concerned, it's mine GODDAMIT (except this one guy here knows, also):

Thrash, shortly after his capture and transformation from regular skate punk into (pre-Internet!) supercyber skate punk

I scanned that for you myself, young' un, and don't you forget it.  Since I am wildly, frothily excited about DCC and the ALL UP FRONT modality of powers and class-as-race-as-class thing, (but I like to do away and hand-wave race and all the crappy trappings therof), I submit for your enjoyment the Skate Hero class, which if I get around to it (probably never!) I can draw up and illustrate a proper handout supplement thing.

A simple group of suggestions for play as a Skate Hero, if you so desire it, subcreature (sort of ripped off from the d20 Athlete):

Fucking hoods.  Eh?  Eh?  See what I did there?

Skate Hero (highly mobile angry yutes)

  • a skate hero depends upon high Stamina, Strength, and Agility, as well as a low level of cunning and a good deal of Luck
  • a skate hero without something to skate on is merely a Hero.  Have a deck/plank/stick/board/magic liftwood plank/flumph/hoverdrone.  No skatey thing, no Radical Deeds, and no modifiers to the following:
  • The Skate Hero adds his or her level AND the most pertinent stat bonus to DC checks that could be classified under other systems' (ahem d20 modern or whatevr) Balance, Tumble, or Jump.  In addition to whatever normal distances/heights/whatever a Skate Hero would get for size/shape/ability scores, he/she/it adds 5' horizontal and 2' vertical jumping distance per level if moving at speed on the board, and suffers half damage from falls or crashes on a failed save, and none whatsoever on a successful save (usually Reflex or Fortitude but the player may choose).  These apply only on the board, and only while skating/flying/awesome-ing
  • Allowed weapons include pipes, bats, chains, knives, clubs, whips, spears, staffs, pool cues.  Improvised weapons found and used while skating incur no penalty to attack or damage rolls but attack as the closest rulebook analog.  On a fumble, the improvised weapon is destroyed or otherwise lost.  Knives and chains and staffs are allowed always (but a staff might get kinda boffo and interfere with cool tricks, depends though)
  • Radical Deeds:  a Skate Hero can do all kinds of cool shit while skating - can you imagine grinding sarcophagi and hand-planting to deflect poisonous darts off the Mithril Board of Ages?  Well, you don't have to 'cause I just did it for you.  Every combat round or turn, the Skate Hero can name a Radical Deed as an attack or movement action - if an attack, the Action Die and the Radical Deed die (effectively the same as a Warrior's Mighty Deed) apply.  Name the awesome trick move you did and get the same benefit as a Mighty Deed/Sword n Board/Whatevr.  You add whatever your stat modifier is (depending upon the move) to the attack/action die, agreed upon by you and the judge depending upon your totally radical description.  Obviously, terrain and conditions must permit skating (local laws do not necessarily prevent this)
  • Armor can be used but negates the stat modifiers for attack bonuses during Radical Deeds - you might get away with leather.  A slick cape or poncho would be sweet.  Since I am now a parent, I insist on head protection but it may reduce your street cred (OSHA approved)
  • Hit Dice: roll 2d6 per level, take the best.  Stamina bonuses apply
  • Action Die progression, same as the Fighter of the same level
  • Saves as a thief of the same level
As a bonus, I offer you Thrash Gordon himself:

Thrash Gordon, Neutral Level 5 Skate Hero
(in a OSR system I might say Chaotic Good but he does have a penchant for vengeance)

Str 14, Int 14, Agi 17, Per 8, Sta 7, Luck 15

Thrash was already an accomplished Skate Hero of the Earth's near future before being nearly killed by mindless corporate robots and experimented upon by evil corporate surgeons and scientists.  They hoped to find use for his corpse's brain and nervous system and transform him into a cyborg, but unwittingly his high Stamina and will to Skate returned him from the brink of Death's halfpipe to crush his captors and his people's oppressive regime.

Somehow, he has acquired the ability to Regenerate Serious Damage when exposed to the right cocktail of mutagenic chemical byproducts and junk foods, (up to 3 dice per day).  He is almost, but not quite, undead but cannot be turned by Clerics.  He can also Influence Robots: if he encounters a hostile robot and is able to make "eye" or physical contact, Thrash can attempt to subvert its programming on a successful DC 13 check.  A non-hostile electronic system or robot can be subverted automatically given 1d3 turns of concentration, but a DC 13 check can reduce this by 1 turn.  Particularly cryptic or elaborate systems may take more time at the discretion of the Judge.

Finally, Thrash's eyes and optic nerves were damaged and nearly destroyed by the mutagenic goo that saved his life.  He is nearly blind but heightened senses make up for the loss well enough for him to skate extremely well; bright lights will daze him for a full game turn or 1d3 combat rounds if he is not wearing protective lenses or glasses.

There!  In one fell swoop, I satisfied my radical anti-corporate hate-filled heart, appealed to my youthful nostalgia, and gave back to the community to which I identify myself sort of.  It's WORKING ITS WORKING

Hurray for internets.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Atlantean Magic and Demons, care of some schmuck back in the early 1900's

When I say 'schmuck' I mean that he is roundly unsung and forgotten now, although in his own time he was fairly influential.  Elliot O'Donnell.  Backstory - so, I swore to +James Bennett that my goal for the year was to refrain from reading anything written after 1900 this calendar year.  Believe it or not, I've done pretty good so far, but this little gem was read by me back in November, and I've been thinking about it, mulling it over.  You know, sort of sacrificing tomcats and drams of my own blood in the moonlight.  That kind of thing.

This book, The Sorcery Club, starts off neat - with maybe some inside information about the Celtic-Mayan-Egyptian connection for Atlantis' remnants in the Yucatan.  It's pretty plausible if you're on ketamine or else a Serpent Man masquerading as a human.  There's a history of the downfall of Atlantis after the rise of its Black Magicians, how to actually become an Atlantean Black Magician by trucking with the last of the wordly spirits, and then it kind of just degenerates into a late 1800s/pre-War era morality tale and romance.  It's a complicated love quadrangle with super-powerful perverts on one side and some plucky country Englishmen and -women on the other.

This is what you get if you put in "plucky English country folk" to Google's image search

All things considered, it's kind of cool I guess.  You get a rundown of the spirits (good and bad) as recognized by the sorcerous Atlanteans, and then some really sketchy and implausible restrictions on Black Magician behavior.  It boils down to : DONT STICK YOUR MEAT WHERE YOU MAKE YOUR BREAD

Chapter 2 has a brief breakdown of Atlantis, its reliance upon the interchange between men and spirits, and the pre-religious feelings of Atlanteans. Also, how Atlantis fell.

Chapter 5 has some great (read: mediocre) poetry about the various spirits that the Atlanteans had deals with.  Here's the poetry in question:

"I am not sure of that," Hamar said, and after a brief pause began to repeat these words 
"Morbas from the mountains,
Where flow malignant fountains
We are ready for you—Come!

Vampires from the passes,
Where grow blood-sucking grasses,
We are ready for you—Come!

Vice Elementals pretty
Give ear unto our ditty
We are ready for you—Come!

Planetians, forms so fearful,
We inform you, eager, tearful,
We are ready for you—Come!

Clanogrians, things of sorrow.
Postpone not till to-morrow,
We are ready for you—Come!

Barrowvians, shades seclusive,
Be not to us exclusive,
We are ready for you—Come!

Earthbound spirits of the Dead
Approach with grim and noiseless tread—
We are ready for you—Come!"

(footnote: According to Atlantean ideas these spirits were:—Vice Elementals; Morbas (or Disease Elementals); Clanogrians (or malicious family ghosts, such as Banshees, etc.); Vampires; Barrowvians, i. e. a grotesque kind of phantasm that frequents places where prehistoric man or beast has been interred; Planetians, i. e. spirits inimical to dwellers on this earth that inhabit various of the other planets; and earthbound spirits of such dead human beings as were mad, imbecile, cruel and vicious, together with the phantasms of vicious and mad beasts, and beasts of prey.—(Eliot O'Donnell's note.))

Morbas, Vampires, Vice Elementals, Planetians, Clanogrians, Barrowvians, and the Earthbound Spirits of the Dead.  Good stuff, I guess.  The whole process of becoming an Atlantean Black Magician is laid out in grisly detail - one almost wonders if Mr. Eliot hadn't at least tried it.  His own backstory is pretty spooky and there for the interested.  He wrote many more books than are easily available today, but a good handful of them are available at Gutenberg and might be useful to interested parties in the RPG community.  Like me.  Maybe once my other project is done I will put out a sourcebook of Elliot O'Donnell critters and spells etc.  Sort of a poor man's Vance or something.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Peoria Plague Redux - don't breathe the vapors, Garfunkel!

I am a fan of radio drama; old/new/whatever

We have a thing here on Sunday nights "the Big Show" on WAMU that has a good number of old fashioned 1940s and 50s stuff. Johnny Dollar. Dragnet. Occasional comedies.

So also, I love all things zombi - undead is a big theme in my RPG games; I don't know why. They are wrong and easy to slay and it's like you're doing the universe a favor and setting things a-right. Nobody can argue the ethics of putting down the undead.

The Peoria Plague was a thing in 1971 or so, apparently produced by this radio station as an homage to War of the Worlds and Romero's Night of the Living Dead.

I tried to listen to this bit of radio history a couple of times and the muddy audio killed me.  I'm not good at audio sorcery, but I chopped out a great deal of noise, slowed it down a notch or two so the announcer doesn't sound hilariously tinny and awful, and reduced the amount of pop n' click.  Thanks, Audacity beta 1.3 from a couple of years ago (my current version)

I don't know if it helps, but it might be slightly better to listen to for you, if you're into that kind of thing.  I find it still breaks down in the middle, mostly since it appears to have been recorded by someone pointing a mic at a radio speaker in a room with an AC or fan in the background, on a reel to reel machine, and to my untrained ears it sounds as if they kept fiddling with the placement.

The proper way to do it would be to have some clever audio technician gently caress it in some crazy high fidelity audio cleaning suite and do it in separate bits, since the noise profile is slightly different throughout.  I have some other software packages I might use to REALLY crank out changes, but this is a part time hobby and nothing I'm innately good at or highly interested in.

Anyways, if you're into Zombies, Simon and Garfunkel, or both (and who isn't, I ask you?), I offer you this:

Before you get all HEY MAN I CANT HERE THIS PART IN THE MIDDLE, let me remind you that I don't know what the hell I'm doing, but I did get some of the fan noise out, since it's an easy filter to muck around with.

Bonus, if you made it this long into the damnable post, is a mix of the XCOM: Terror from the Deep introductory music with some high-end (but poorly utilized) samples of timpani, strings, and etc.  I stole the midi file from my own (totally legit) copy, plugged it into a Soundfont thing and used a marvelous orchestral sample soundfont, I don't know why I give it to you it's something of a personal project to me.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

AFTER THE MOWER - RPG idea nugget


so I was mowing the lawn today - we kinda live out in the middle of the woods and so mowing the lawn is an adventure. I'm allergic to every goddam thing out here and then some more stuff so I have this respirator mask on and I actually had to stop the mower for a second cause I thought I heard this deep breathing Darth Vader animal in the high weeds and it was me so I took a break and watched all the critters and had some water

So many bees and frogs and toads and snakes and spiders and who knows what I just turn into a fine red mist

Little things - life forms for whom I have the utmost respect cause fuck - life is rough and guys can come along and mow you into a sticky paste

You know what?  Me and my mower are sort of like the frog/bee/snake/mouse equivalent of Cthulhu. Apocalyptic heavy-duty demigod of awful destruction and I got to thinking about Ms. Jonathan Brisby and the little concrete block and that song and all the bees did this little dance and so I didn't mow the wildflowers since I felt real bad about the whole thing

I mean LAWN AESTHETICS vs CONTINUED BEE AND MOUSE and BUNNY HAPPINESS and there was this one nice little toad and I almost ran him over 3 times on accident and fuck I hope that guy is okay

Anyways, whatever anti-apocalyptic ritual (INCREASE ANIMAL EMPATHY DC 32) those bees did certainly did the job since I will give them a week or two to work out the wildflower kinks but I got to thinking about how you could have Twilight 2000 but instead of Eastern Europe it could be my backyard and instead of low-yield nukes it could be my mower (or it's really the landlady's, I guess) and instead of Czechs and Poles and German paramilitary it could be bees and little mouse people trying to make their way after the mower just comes and destroys everything arbitrarily and

Jesus it gets more depressing after that but if you throw in some Gamma World powers maybe it's not so bad for the widow Brisby. Like maybe she could influence rats and pick locks underwater

I don't know 

Man. How can I feel so bad about mowing the weeds that pass for a lawn around my house?

On a lighter note, I ended up with 15,000 or so steps

CLASSES: Mouse, Bee, Rat, Toad, Snake, Bunny

Psionics, low tech (man made junk - occasional rat-sized artifacts but these cannot be clearly explained). Simple rat- and mouse-centered magics

Bees have no penalties for terrain and actually play the whole hive organization but don't have access to magic and they're wimpy and prone to swatting

skill based: no levels. Maybe BRP based

Hex crawling

The typical tropes: relocate the warren/hive/concrete block from the meadow/woods/farm. Flee from predators. Find food 

Rabies (don't get me started on this one)

The difficulty lies in: does the cause of the pocky-clipse, is it a nice guy?  Stoic farmer? Steward of the woods? Money hungry developer? Is it a natural thing like a wild fire?  Is there any food left or is a total loss? just a temporary thing and the meadow will recover?

You could hex-map it out and roll the people in the hex as characters - do they respect bunnies or gas 'em?  Is that bad-ass snake that lives in hex 1203 psionic? A wizard? Or just a really good hunter?  Is she afraid of the guy that lives in the trailer, or can you literally watch her kill that guy? (This last bit came to me as I remembered stepping on Pygmy rattlers all the time when I was a woodpecker technician on Eglin Air Force Base - I still have the snake boots in the back closet)

I guess this is starting to sound like Bunnies and Burrows or something.  Hmm. Gonna have to look that up.

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