Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Secret Ingredients

being another dubious sub-mission for players of 40K who field against my Genestealer Cult

Yours is a task force set by the Ordo Sanitorum to inspect Manufactorae and production facilities throughout this segment, ostensibly to ensure good hygiene and safety for workers and consumers.  A tedious ruse! since every Imperial Citizen accepts that life is cheap and the Emperor keeps the Faithful safe from mishap and disease...

Your actual mission is to discover the last 4 of the 27 secret ingredients of Taint Cola Fizzy Drink, so that they may be analyzed and so that Imperial Agents may synthesize key ones to improve the generic state-owned brand to drinkability. As it stands, the un-purchased bulk of millions of gallons is used as a somewhat  insipid cleaning agent in AM field hospitals (it's called Dr. Imperator).  These are the infamous Brown Barges, moving sulkily from planet to planet peddling refreshing beverages no one wants, to deposit them finally in zones of strife to wash away blood and leave only a sticky film and an unpleasant smell behind.

The Taint Cola Company player places 4 objective markers anywhere on the board. At the start of your turn, for every model in a scoring unit that touches the marker, roll a d6 die. For any model equipped with an auspex or marker lights or the equivalent, roll an additional die. Any 1's on the die provide you with a victory point, assuming the unit retreats off a table edge (a vehicle may be used). If that unit is destroyed, the Taint Cola player gains those Victory Points, instead.

For every Victory Point contested in this way, the Taint Cola player may place/deploy a single Genestealer in cover within 12" of the Objective Marker on the following turn, and it may charge and assault that turn and counts as a unit for scoring purposes.

These are in addition to normal scoring and mission rules, since it's my belief that insanely complicated is better.

that's all.

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Philosophy on 40K

I don't want to know about Primarchs - I want to know about Rogue Traders.  Maybe Captains. Delaque Spook dealers. Individual Sisters of Battle. The Cockney Ork bores me to tears (in fact I think the Orc is one thing Steve Jackson did well in the LoTR).

I don't want to see Knights, I want to see the Mechanicus Adepts that maintain their knee-servos and strike the Runes of Supplication.

I prefer Pit Slaves and Guilders and Outcast Hive Gangers. Could Brakkar the Avenger and some Ratskins take on some Space Wolves?  Wouldn't it be fun to sort it out?

I'm procrastinating with the table.  I need to sort out a way to get the MDF or plywood to the house. I guess I just need to bite the bullet and tie one on.

A to Z

Didn't work out. I found the pressing need to come up with something actually took all the wind out of my sails. Better if low commitment ensures spontaneous creation.

Ah, well. Next, I'm going to spend some time playing other peoples' things and making 40K scenery and that sort of thing.

I still dig the DCC in Space vibe, seeing as the Purple Planet thing fair hangs there.

I'm burnt out a little I think.

More Classic Genestealers for the Cult

 The Taint Cola Company (my Genestealer Cult) is coming along at a good clip, now I've taken the first steps.  I looked into some hybrids on eBay ($$$/£££), but I remembered I have some Mantic infected mutants for just this porpoise. They have little pin-heads, and maybe need more arms but I will sort it out.

Put the 4x4 legs on the table - measure twice and cut once because I evidently came up about 3/4 of an inch short on one leg.  The lumber for the table is warped pretty badly so it's going to take some fretting about; maybe this is why it seemed wobbly.  I got it stable and mostly level although it looks twisted, somehow. It will be a table fit for fighting about heresy and dissent and corruption on, for certain!

The legs are 40 inches, so it probably will come to about 43-45 once it's all set up. Good for keeping wandering fingers/tails away and your back from needing interventions.

Kludged together some Spore vents and tentacle/maw towers. This must have all come from the Macragge set, since I have some Termagants/Hormagaunts, for some reason.  It's funny once you start playing a few different armies and building things for them, the whole world starts to look like hobby material.  I got a plan for this pumpkin stalk that would make you lose 1d8 SAN...

These were at Lowe's - paint drip catchers, but they will probably be turned into fortified Heavy Weapons nests.  A whole bunch of wood scraps are going to be scatter terrain tonight or tomorrow, too.  Not to mention all the produce container pillboxes!  These Taint Cola folks tithe dutifully, and are good about giving the PDF regiments free samples, but they don't like locals prodding around the works, if you get my drift.  So they are going to need lots of murderholes, steamy tunnels, vents, pipes, and pumps.  I figured out a do-able way to turn old wood into stone work with the Dremel and will try to post results as they arrive on the scene.

Taint Cola will be as much like Mountain Dew Sangrita Blast as I can make it without violating good sense and IP. Did I tell you that I dream of it? That it's hallucinatory color catches the Octarine particles just so, and it's intoxicating flavor gets me in touch with the Hivemind in a way that is ecstatically transcendent?

The web site says that a second release will come soon, and that bottles of this Extra-Heavenly Citrus-and-Laudanum-Flavoured Nectar are available for your consumption in a convenient vendor bear you!!!  It's like drinking from Nepenthe itself!  JOIN THE OVERMIND - DRINK TAINT!

COMING SOON, SUMMER 2015: TAINT SPOOK, TAINT PSYKO, and (limited release) TAINT BLU KALMA. Visit the  Holonet Site for details!

I have the urge to purchase some Gargoyles and a Harpy.  Maybe for my birthday.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Taint Cola Company

Brood Brothers (maybe Artizan Panzergrenadiers w/Masks but the bases are obscured)  - they are wonderfully chunky models and remind me of the old days, somehow.  I realize in the light of the monitor that I am a sloppy painter, but enthusiastic like a Genestealer's Embrace and Kiss.

They're flanked by The Beloved Cousins - a unit of 6 Genestealers. I tried to recall the 1993 PC game of which I was so fond and for which I chose to forsake people and spend a thousand years on Overwatch during the Summer of '94 and the antagonists of which still frankly make my heart beat quickly.  Within the Space Hulk 2012 box (or whatever year it was...) there are dozens more, dozing in stasis, and a Broodlord on a dramatic base.  All that is needed is a kitbashed baldy Magus to guide them, a couple of 2nd and 3rd generation hybrids (my hideously mutated 3rd edition Catachans!), a Limousine, a delivery truck, and I will say that the IG soldiers of whatever crummy Hive Planet these live on so love the taste of TAINT Cola ("if it taint Taint, taint worth drinkin'!") that they enthusiastically work to keep the flow flowing.  MMMMM flow.

There comes a point where no more ink wash is needed.

below is where I started, so all in all a good night's work. I expect the next 2 dozen Genestealers or so will go somewhat quicker and have a couple iterations of better wuality.  Wuality control is lacking at the TAINT plant, and there are bound to be random adulterants and intoxicants in every 13 ounce bottle!  Maybe some Spook, or some Psycho! Or variant gene-patterns and meme-inducers!

Now, Bless Your Weapons and Go
The Emperor Has Dictated Your Squad's Weaponry

Friday, April 24, 2015

Secret Imperial Sub-missions

Thinking about Mordheim, Necromunda, 7th Edition, and how to increase laffs and thereby reduce the grimdarkness/laffs ratio in my games.  Don’t get me wrong, I like skulls, dark ink washes, and crosshatching like any good imperial citizen, but Rogue Trader and the earlier games were subversive and hilarious and recent games are maybe mechanically smoother but almost entirely devoid of humor.  Thatcher-era punk commentary vs. internet-enabled ultra-capitalism and whatnot.  I dunno, it might be worth a blog-post someday…

There were once Fat Space Marines.

Anyhow, these are extra touches to add to Imperial forces; kind of my usual selection.  Where included, Civilians have 1 Wound, 3 Toughness, and no saves unless they Go To Ground or are in cover (which they are advised to seek out as they flee across the battlefield).  Dissidents might have an autopistol, Mutants might have Mastery Level 1 powers drawn at random (and optionally add 1 Mastery point to BOTH sides).  The idea is to add some human sensibilities to the thing.

I have an idea that my Genestealer Cult army might be a Carbonated Cola distributor, pushing fizzy tainted drinks onto an unsuspecting and over-weight Hive population, tithing to the Imperial Coffers dutifully with one eye to space, awaiting the Shadow of the Hiveships.

1)      Castigate this Scum!
a.       Several of these nobles and commoners are known to harbor tainted genes and philosophies.  Eradicate identified targets, and root out heresy and put it to cleansing flame.  Gain 1 victory point for each Civilian casualty you inflict; the models are under the other player’s control.  They may not attach to any units, but may be transported provided there is sufficient space.
b.      The civilians are split evenly before deployment; they may not deploy within your or your opponent’s deployment zone.  Take turns deploying each civilian model in turn.
c.       If a Civilian model reaches a table edge, remove it.  You lose 1 victory point, in this case.  You may choose to lose another, if this happens, and deploy d3 Civilian models in an unoccupied building or terrain piece – this scum has been found out and are making a run for it!
d.      Note that you may reach 0 Victory Points under these conditions but you may never earn less than 0 regardless of the number of escapees.
2)      The Burden of Mercy
a.       An order from above inexplicably calls for the safety and protection of the Civilians in this area.  The opponent deploys d6 Civilian models, which cannot start in your deployment zone but may deploy in his or hers, and may not be deployed within 12 inches of any of his or her units.  You control them, and they start in Cover.
b.      During your movement phase, move these models 2d6 inches as you wish.  They may join your infantry units or be transported in vehicles if there is sufficient space – however they use the unit’s movement in that case.
c.       If they reach your table edge, or they are alive and in cover at the end of the game, then gain 1 Victory Point
d.      If they are killed by the enemy, then lose 1 Victory Point, and then spawn d3 more within the enemy’s deployment zone  but not within 12’ of any enemy units, and they arrive in cover as if they had gone to ground.
3)      Purify These Zones
a.       Each objective marker must be hit with a flamer template or a shot from a melta- or plasma-based weapon.  Each marker has 2 Wounds, Toughness 6 and you may claim 1 Victory Point for each wound you cause.  If you reduce the objective to 0 wounds, it explodes with a large blast radius, and each model under the template takes a S6 AP5 hit, and further you lose 1 Victory Point!  Don’t hold the trigger down for too long.  A single shot combi-flamer pod may be purchased for 15 points per model.

One Squad is Insufficient.

4)      The Taint of Heresy
a.       This zone is rife with Intolerable Dissent.  Your opponent distributes d6 Civilians wherever he or she wishes.  You must identify Civilian models as Heretics, Muties, or Dissidents!  Any unit with a model bearing an Auspex or Psyocculum may enter a building or terrain model, and by doing so identifies 1d3 Civilians that immediately flee toward the nearest table edge – 1d6 inches immediately, and then 2d6 during the opponents’ movement phase.  If a unit so equipped touches the base of any Civilian models, they will be targets on a d6 roll of 5 or 6, and can be eliminated for 1 Victory Point each.  If any targets remain on the board at the end of the game, Lose 1 Victory Point.  For each unexplored building, the opponent receives a Victory Point on a d6 roll of 3+.  A unit or character may purchase an Auspex for 20 points, and a character may purchase a psyocculum for  30 points.
5)      Enforced Embargo!
a.       The opponent nominates 3 enemy units or vehicles – those units or vehicles are suspected of bearing Contraband.  Perhaps a shipment of Spook, or Capito-Communist Pamphlets, or even Anadentist Tracts.  If the unit or vehicle is destroyed or retreats off the opponent’s table edge, then roll a d6.  The first will be the target on a 6, the second on 5+, and the third on 4+.  Only one unit or vehicle will bear the Contraband, and for identifying  the target and eliminating it you gain d3 Victory Points.  If you fail in this critical mission, your opponent gains 2 Victory Points at the end of the game.

The soda will be called TAINT.  If it tain’t TAINT don’t drink it!  Now to make up a little poster: DRINK TAINT NOW

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Game Board Ideas - Wretched Hab-Hives

I do more thinking about this game board than I will ever likely take any action on

But I list some goals just for SnG

0) made of modular and "reversible" dimensional lumber as a base. Meaning many parts, easy to turn and e.g. walls can be used as floors or platforms interchangeably. You can flip 'em over and they can work that way, or put 'en on their sides and get something from that configuration.
1) a scad of tin shacks (probably based with CD's since that's pretty cheap). In 7th edition, these could be destroy-able, hide objectives, and break up LOS and gives me an excuse to paint up some wretched hive dwellers and maybe make some rules up!
2) 35-40 inch legs for the table
3) a well-define 4x4 area for Kill Team/Inq/Necromunda
4) The terrain wants to be stackable - I want height and blocking of LOS for lots of movement in games 
5) I identify strongly with the blue/green/red studio terrain of the original Necromunda books, with lots of weathering.  That stuff was made to showcase the models, sure.  Also, I want it to fit with my basing scheme (mostly sand, but I am transitioning down the line to stone blocks and pipes and wires AND  sand; kind of a Sandy Techno Ruins. Necromunda was kind of a desolate waste on the outside of the hive spires, but I want this to be a place overcrowded with life and able to support it, just barely.
6) The bigger terrain wants stone and scratch built and medieval with gewgaws and whirly gubbins, and of course I want to slather everything with anti-Xeno and anti-Mutie and anti-Heretic propaganda
7) Some objective markers; some scratch built and some Armorcast stuff might be fun
8) For the Genestealer Cult, it has some fortifications - tunnels and Sapper mines.   Definitely needs to fit the rest but show some scary 'Nid influence. Like Necromunda stuff, but with tentacles and maws and pods and such
9) lots of vents and smoke stacks and steam and just everything slick with muck, sand, and efflua. Tentacles here and there. The world ought to be fought over and show signs of imminent Exterminatus In Extremis, but still have enough resources to be worth fighting for.   Maybe we just need to ship in human Citizens, Servo-Slaves, and docile, trusted Xenos and abhumans once we clear out all the infected heretic scum.
10) overcrowded with life and shows signs of habitation and use. Vegetation patches, maybe.  Even scum needs to toil in the work-farms.  I like the idea of plastic fish tank vegetation, for some reason.
11) standard Imperial motifs worked in. Skulls. Aquila. It's Games Workshop, after all.

I'll break these down later. The weather is nice and the mommy and kid are at Yoga and I don't have much time before work. I have an idea for wooden bulkheads that work in a modular fashion like the original  plastic stuff but with more heft and wood screws ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Further Works in Progress - Sisters and Genestealer Cult

Pictured is an evening's work, maybe three hours or so of doodling around, slapping down coats and wrecking brushes. I don't know.  I'm happy with the progress on Yarrick, the dregs of my old Goliath set (upper left), the various retinue models (including the Sister Hospitaller, top leftish).  My group needs non-Imperial troops, and I'm itching to try some 'Nids, so I thought a Genestealer cult would make a transition nicely so's I can use some of my IG as Traitors.

Laid down a base coat of classic Space Hulk PC 1993 computer game dark blue/GS purple as a test scheme.   A dry brush of light gray may go well to bump out the highlights.  The bottom right squad is maybe some Copplestone Casting WWII Panzer Grenadiers, with a nice dark blue base.  They're going to be my front and center Genestealer Cultists, so I think it's going to go in a different direction than my usual army, namely NOT the pictured gray/red/tarnished silver scheme I usually use to keep my Imperial troops distinguished.
Laid down a couple of coats of tarnished boltgun metal for the Immolator, which feels nice.  It got a base of Tamiya German Gray instead of regular primer, which I realized wouldn't work back in the day, but I'm going to roll with it and weather the bajeesus out of it and hope my sloppy, rambling, sluggardly, heretical painting will go well from here and not incur Yarrick's further disapproval.
I like the Genestealer Cult more and more, and that 6th edition codex available online provides some nice weird rules (namely the fortifications and the self-destruct stuff) that ought to take my cohort of gamers by surprise.  And I can field my Leman Russ, sentinels, and cadians, and it gives me a chance to use 'nids as an ally pretty easily.  Sort of a Inner Circle of blue 'stealers, hybrids (my 3rd edition hideous catachans!) and a Magus, coupled with my Termagaunts, spore vents, and spore clouds (spore clouds are frakking easy to kludge together, BTW remind me to bodge some ping pong balls together on 25mm bases to explain what I mean...)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Inquisitor Inquisitas Inquisitoris

I skipped some editions.  My buddy tells me I had the 2nd edition boxed set, so I had Rogue Trader, 2, snippets of 3rd, 5, and now 7.  I had Macragge and the other boxed set, so maybe 4 and 5.  I don't know.

But things change a good deal.  I got a look at the most recent Inquisition thing, and I lament the loss of purchasable Orbital Strike, even though Karamazov still has it and it turns up as a random Warlord Trait.  It might could help against all the Super Heavies I see these days.

But, next to that I saw that the Ordo Malleus/Hereticus/Xenos stuff is fleshed out into separate strains, which I suppose is kind of cool.  They ditched the mention of the Ordo Sepulturum - to my mind a creepy favorite.  I guess zombies are everywhere these days and nobody's going to purchase zombies as enemies to field against towering men and aliens in powered suits of artificier armour (but they bring a rush of fear to the Necromunda and Inq28 people, I bet).

Anyways, I was mulling over some options for Kill Team on Sunday with the BnB40K guys, and they're all going to have these Skitarii and Knights and such, so I was thinking about some good options.  My sisters and these Inquisitors aren't going to stand up long.  Interestingly, I think the Malleus flavored inquisitor is a total cheesy badass.  The Daemonblade is going to carve some stuff up - 2 rolls on the chart and none end up being good for anybody.

A problem might be that I can only kitbash and convert so many models to paint and never actually paint them, if you get my meaning.  But it does make one think about having a couple different Inquisitors in the pot and ready to go when the need arises.  The Warlord Traits are actually all pretty cool for a variety of situations.

Also, the sisters are just about done.  I need to base some and add some arco-flails to about 9 hastily converted WFB flagellants, and of course paint Celestine of which I am sore afraid.

Beer and Bolters Campaign

Thinking about the


I think I only really have a bout 3-4K total of mostly Imperial Armies stuff

a couple of quirky characters and a handful of squads

It's a good thing the points limits are fairly low to start or some of these cats'd leave me eating dust

Saturday, April 4, 2015


(An imaginary strong reaction/rant to that Alexandrian thing the other day about railroads and illusionism etc.  Note: only one small facet of my feelings about many issues, and I am happy to say I see it both ways but often find myself veering toward illusionism in the interests of keeping it fun)

About to pull an upper decker on A Thing Most Holy
Tables. I love 'em; you love 'em. We play these games and have played them always.  Why, the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide is ponderous, yes, but it's regarded as inspired and sacrosanct and we must all agree that Gary's curmudgeonly wisdom is Paternistic and Authoritarian but only for the players' and The Games' collective good. Ahem.  There's 2 or 3 tables on almost every page in that thing.

I once was at the receiving end of some offhand comments from some jerk that stung me just badly enough to not like him very much any more and not want to be his friend in that way that it's clear in retrospect he hurt my feelings like I'm in eighth grade.  It was about Gary's predilection for tables, if I recall correctly, and I thought myself clever for noting that Gary's Dad was in insurance and SO OF COURSE THERE'S TABLES, they don't call it Accidental Death & Dismemberment for Nothing!  Ho Ho Ho

Anyways, it's my fervent and deeply held belief that "Random" Tables (let's be frank shall we? there's  almost nothing random about it once you throw in your shaved d12) even the Pseudorandom tables we use and proliferate so widely are strangling the hobby into lifelessness.  yes, that's right. Your tables upon which you rely so heavily are in fact an addiction, a phylactery by which your withered corpse clings to what it thinks is good about life

We all (well, maybe some) of us work, have jobs, do chores, write things, doodle maps. We don't always have time to prep for every Unforeseeable Contingency that arises in the course of our games.  Especially if you're running a game and you already thought about it all week and the Traps are so Clever and the Monsters are Like Unforgettable and the Twists O The Twists and then Rodney is like WHAT IS IN THE GOBLIN'S POCKETS and you've been focused on the architecture and the sheen of the Chromatic Pudding and how all it wants is to mate with somebody with a Comeliness of more than 8 and LET ME GET THIS RANDOM GOBLIN POCKET CHART AND FUCK YOU, EVAN THIS WILL BE SO SEAMLESS NOBODY WILL EVEN KNOW I DINT PLAN THI

that - that right there ought not to be trusted. That's why there's all these reams and reams of despicable Excel and fucking endless d66 and d13 and d200 charts. Somehow the notion that raw chaos may take away my culpability for _something_ is what sticks in my craw. I Feel Like Maybe After Twenty Years of Thinking About It, with my knowledge base I ought to be able to just come up with some fun shit on the fly like a daily special of awesome Roleplayingness and it ought to be clever and part of me and whether it will kill your 3rd level Halfling or not is of no consequence. Just because it comes from in me and I am nominally AGAINST YOU somehow and can't be trusted to be judicious and fun and easy-going means TRUST IN THE DICE INSTEAD

blech. Fie.  FIE I SAY

when you de-bone it, what you have is a cool/fast/nostalgia-laden way to get information across.  I get it.  Kind of like a speedball of information that conveys tone, humor, a feeling of the possibility of the situation. Nobody ever says "YOU GOTTA GO EXACKLY BY WHAT IS ON MY CHART". We all get, I think, that these are clever ideas to get your noodle rattling around when you are in a pinch and that at the bottom of the thing is your judgement and hard-won expertise. It's gotten to be the go-to blog post for us RPG guys and occasional gal - the d12 table of X. There are those who do it well - Sholtis, yeah that's some good shit.  Everybody else, merhhhhhhhhm. Charts strangle us!  burn your charts!  Commit and believe that your ideas, even under the (imaginary) intense pressure at the table, your ideas and judgement can be trusted even if it leads to a TPK.  The fiction is not more judicious and impartial and therefore fair just because it's been determined randomly.

ALSO: TPKs are good and your character is not a special snowflake and even his/her/its Pseudo-Death has no meaning since its an imaginary event and the tumbling of dice is not somehow binding. Do your game science dice have the bound gods of Law contained within them?  Are they Donblas the Justice Dice?

a difference between the OSR/trad players and quote-unquote STORY GAMERS (some of you may read it as a slur)  that I see as almost laughably blatant is how the former trusts in charts and tables and the latter trusts in PEOPLE'S BRAINS. LARPERS (another slur!) do away with dice almost completely and so are not to be trus- There's the rub!  It's our traditional need and reliance upon the safety of impartiality that causes us to invest so much in dice and (it follows as Night Upon The Heels Of Day) charts and tables. Goddam, shit-sucking, charts.  The Dice run you, subcreature!  Stand up and say with one voice I RUN THE DICE THE DICE DONT RUN ME

The whole of the hobby is lousy with them.  I seen some cats trying to foster the die-drop table and maybe it's a good impulse, but I don't know.  The use of dice is a pernicious and wide-spread evil.  A malaise.  Yes, I said it.  A goddamn malaise.

here's the prefigured declaration in handy d9 table format (see what I did there? Ho Ho ho). UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU ROLL ON THIS TABLE UNLESS ITS A d8/2 plus a d5 so it'll skew your probabilities all fucked up

1) The Oracle at Delphi was high as fuck and relied upon divine inspiration to get her players to do cool shit. I don't need Apollo or to smoke bay leaves to come up with good ideas for my players.  I don't need also: Excel.  Word.  InDesign.  Molybdenum-laced, laser cut polyhedra.  Complex digital or solid-state circuits, including but not limited to my iPhone. 
2) my cleverness is better than Some hunk of plastic's and further God doesn't play dice with his Universe, why you gotta play dice with yours?  In some cases, my cleverness fits better the game I'm playing with people and there is no way to fit in some other dude's table into my game, and if I do and that (7) laser-sword becomes a Mithril Frostblade, I mean, why the fuck am I using that chart, anyways?  It's like a crutch for nothing.  An imagination crutch. WHAT'S IN THE GOBLIN'S POCKETS....??? (you fucker)  CHICKEN BONES, USED KLEENEX, AND THE MF ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL.  Better by far than UH HOLD ON UH HOLD ON I GOT THAT TABLE AROUND HERE UH WAIT FOR IT JESUS IM SORRY GUYS I HAVE THE PERFECT YOU KNOW WHAT THERE'S A LINK FOR THIS ON WIZARDDAWN (no offense to Wizarddawn, I love that shit)
3) don't take the impartiality of dice and the impartial, spiritless safety of imaginary people as a positive development. Risks of even minor heroes are more meaningful when they can come to a messy end. If your characters aren't dying (even if they are later being resurrected/reanimated/buried forever) you're playing a boring game.  It's my opinion that Random Encounter charts are the worst and most egregious offenders, here.  In the hopes for impartiality and for the sake of nostalgia, I sacrifice a meaningful encounter for some quirk of the die, and then (don't get me wrong I love the Moldvay reaction roll, I almost swear by it) we spend 35 minutes tossing dice about whether the party can off some rats.  Why's it gonna be rats, or a centipede, or stirges?  Just fucking make something cool up, why don't you?  You know why?  You been looking at those goddamn random encounter tables your whole damn life!  If you were sane, and that lobe of your brain wasn't addicted to tables and nostalgia, you'd never have another stirge in your game, ever.  EVAR.
4) 5 tentacles or 50 tentacles or 15 makes no discernible, meaningful difference in a story.  If it does, it's bad writing/thinking
5) nobody is random when they write a table. They always put the best shit on the bell curve ends. C'mon "roll again and discard duplicate results?"  Yeah we all know it was late and you needed to work the next day.  I mean "pseudorandom".  That's fucked up.  That's like pseudopregnant.  pseudotruth.  Either it's random, or it's something else.
6) engineering and rules are not better than humanities and drama. There is no safety in predictability, no surety in the accurate simulation of some fantastical notion's adherence to pseudoreality. Or else there shouldn't be (more on this shit, later if I'm not summarily executed)
6) humanities and drama ought to be fostered. The rules should not account for all the permutations of the system in which you play. That's like 3.5 type stuff. Yeah - you grimaced because you know what I mean
6) if you had a bad reaction to my criticism of 3.5, then see #6
B) unexpected results cannot, by their nature, be found on any chart



"Your squad broke under fire, and failed their Ld roll.  Commisar K has a bolter shell for you."  I wonder if a failed orders roll would prompt that.  Hmm.  Maybe another blog entirely.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cairn Golem for Space Dungeon: A to Z challenge

C is for cookie, and that's good enough for me, but that don't make no sound in Spessss

It's late.  I dig the notion of unrecoverable, single-delve disposable dungeons.  The kind I been doing, of late, are chock full of Necromancy and Super-Science, since I dig undead, and I dig ray-guns, and I dig bubble-helmets and rampaging robots.

So randomly generated is great, but that block of stone you see on top of that thing that keeps you from getting in it and the sweet sweet loot that's underneath is dull.  Been done before.

I had a couple of good ones, so far, in the Space Dungeon campaign.  The first one was a gate that was tied to multiple dungeons, and you could get to new ones by switching the glyphs on the front and smearing it with bodily fluids.  We forgot about it, I think.  Lost in the shuffle.

This is a Cairn Golem, a big jumbly or alternately well-constructed guardian at the front steps.  Maybe not just the steps but also the gate and the grave marker, and positively brimming with lasers and crushing maws and paws, and a one-track mind designed to not-permit-you-to-enter

Like ED-209, but magical and made of expensive rock.

Missed my time frame on this.

18 HP, 3 Points ablative armor.  2d6 crushing fists, 1d10 maw.

If both fists hit the same target, you can still wiggle free with a fort save (DC12) but otherwise, it's going to chew you into a fine red paste and maybe keep your skull for decor on the front stoop.

BTW it's the front stoop.  It looks like a big pile of slightly-dressed stone, arranged in the manner of a forbidding entrance and when you come near (or alternately when you've brought something out) then BAM


Now for bed

A to Zpace Dungeon: B is for Barrow

No reason not to keep on with my theme of choice, namely low-fantasy, tomb-robbing, post-apocalyptic Ice Pirates in the Barrowmaze thing that grabs my own attention, these days.  Tell me if you grow weary, O Reader!

Using the handy Dungeon World flavored on-the-fly generator by the ezsteemed +Jason Lutes (See his awesome blog and stuff OVER HERE NOW) I discovered in some musty scroll-case in the hands of a dead Tcho-Tcho, I made this for you, today.  Themes were: Transformation, Criminal Activity, Divination/Scrying, Chaos/Destruction, Tricks and Traps, and ALL IS LOST.

It was built by some cult and functions not just as a burial site, but also as a Portal!

The Barrow of the Pyrocaustic Eye

When the party arrives, they find that Rocket-Bikes are parked outside the entrance way, 1d4+1 of them to be exact (these may be worth money in and of themselves!).  This represents the number of tomb-robbers present in the complex, give or take an extra rider on one of the bikes as needed. In Space Dungeon games, the one-shot dungeons are generally claims so that means that these folks are claim-jumpers and fair game for harsh extermination but YMMV.  A funny twist could be that they are distant descendants of the inhabitants of the tomb, and are there on legitimate business.  No matter, all but one are dead in convenient fashion.

The place has strange topology.  The corridors near 6 and 4 are linked, and 9 and 4 as well - meaning travelling the length of these corridors will take one in an almost Moebius-strip fashion to the opposite point but on the ceiling.  The decor is such that the transition is seamless and without interruption, and no one can tell what has happened without a landmark of some kind.  Ought to be easy enough to sort out but possibly disorienting and who knows what kinds of metaphysical effects occur when these things happen - does your left hand become your right?

Alcoves in the walls are similar to Barrowmaze. Between any two points (with the below admonition) determine how many alcoves there are with a d100 - round up to the nearest 10.  Each PC or meatshield can search 10 alcoves per turn.  Each turn the random monster check is a 1d6, and a 5 or 6 incurs a random encounter.  Each turn spent searching, or any noise or party squabbling or discussion, incurs a +1 penalty to the roll.  It starts over again after each encounter.

Random Search Results, per 10 alcoves: (d12)
1. Ultrabronze Axe Money - money shaped as partial Ultrabronze ingots, hacked by laser or waterjet into crude rectangular chips, threaded in 5's or 10's.  Worth 1 credit each (1d20)
2. Jade Skull Tokens - self-explanatory.  Maybe the size of a marshmallow.  Worth 50 credits, each.
3. Ivory and Turquoise tablet - prayers to the Pyrocaust and glimpses into the End of All Things.  Reading too many of these (with magic or computer assist) will incur a minor corruption in that the reader will have terrible nocturnal visions of bleeding eyes, scorched landscapes, and supernovae. Worth 200+1d4x25 each.
4. Opal Amulet - Opal gives prophetic visions.  In this case, some ominous writing and worth 100 credits
5.  Peridot wristband - Peridot gives glimpses of alternate possible futures, in which the seller receives 200 credits
6. Fluorite Earrings or Noseplug (1d2 for either) - Fluorite channels energy, and these are worth 50 credits
7. Amethyst and silver facial jewelry - extra holes needed to accommodate these piercing jewelries.  100 gp each.  Amethyst will provide visions under the right circumstances.
8. Amber-encased insect or subcreature - 25 gold each.  Possibly sound genetic sample lies deep inside, awaiting the chance to cause ecological havok.  Amber generates light and heat.
9. Bronze or Silver Torc - weighty and could be used as a weapon in a pinch.  75 credits.
10. Liftwood club (a macahuitl), with meteorological obsidian chips for blades.  Wicked deadly, causes fantastic wounds and 1d14 damage OR 1d6 damage and the opportunity to re-roll initiative for that PC.  The crit range is 19 or 20.  Only find this one once.  It is light, drilled with holes for speed, and an ominous prophecy is carved on the sides in relief, depicting demons devouring the stars and planets.  You may go mad if you read this too many times.  Possibly priceless.  I suggest 2000 credits as a lump sum but the Gods will chortle if you give this up.  Maybe not so effective against Robots at the judge's discretion.
11.  A singed scroll with a level 1 Wizard OR Cleric spell, usable as normal but not easy to decipher.
12.  A prophetic coin - Leering Quantum Jaguar Who Devours Quasars is depicted on the obverse.  The instructions on the reverse, in a long-dead language.  Offer it to the undead things here, and they will answer your query with full knowledge but the thing will come to pass irrevocably damaged by burning, withering, or ionizing radiation.  They will speak to the user telepathically.  If used on the Pyrocaustic Eye, a dangerous Phlogiston Disturbance will occur and the topology of the structure will rationalize instantaneously (for starters) and then resolve the disturbance as per the text, or if you're brave use the Purple Planet charts!

Random Encounter (d10 - determine 1d2 if the encounter is on the floor or relative ceiling!)
1) A pyrocaust cultist, re-animated.  He/she trudges down the hall, empty sockets blazing with fire, burial shroud singed and smoking.  Relatively wimpy, but two touch attacks will burn with Aether Fire for 1d4 points additional damage with no save - if both hand attacks hit, then the victim has a bleak and searing vision of his/her/its homeworld reduced to cinders.
2) Dead Looter (up to the number determined).  Eye sockets burned into hollow ragged holes.  Surrounded by 2 loot items as per the chart above.
3) Ghostly voices whispering about pyromaniacal events
4) A radiation hot zone erupts, causing 1d10 burn damage or half on a succesful DC 14 Fort save.  A geiger counter will detect the spike before it occurs and the party can move to safety without harm if they have one (indicators on radsuits and vac-suits will ping or turn color suddenly)
5) A looter runs past, oriented on the relative ceiling, fleeing screaming and on fire.  He takes a round and falls to the ground, smoking and sputtering until his corpse erupts into white flame and disappears.  This only happens if there are sufficient remaining looters - else reroll.
6)  A sound TOK TOK TOK TOK TOK erupts in some far-off hall some distance from the party
7)  The wall begins to glow white hot and emit strange radiation that allows viewing through it - see some unexplored area the party has not yet explored within the complex.
8)  An ashen demonthing, Level 1 in the DCC text on page 401.  It is subject to the prophecy coins, and will attack otherwise and seek to carry off some PC to an extradimensional zone and flay and brand and worse.  If not destroyed or successful in kidnapping, it may be encountered again.
9)  A floating skull-drone.  Harmless.  Will tell the story of whomever is nearest in an alcove and move down the hall.  The prophecy coin can be used to over-ride its programming and it will answer in the same manner
10)  A ceiling-mounted (possibly the floor) laser swings out and delivers a warning blast to d4 party members, for 1d8 damage, but a DC 15 Reflex save will negate it.

The numbered areas are these:

1) Trinkets.  Ultrabronze and bone/shell hairpins (maybe a nose-pin).  Discarded in haste.  Footprints in the dust go further down the hall.  Signs of crowbar damage.  Some looted alcoves have the remains strewn disrespectfully on the hallway floor.  A long-bone is somehow on the ceiling, here.
2) Supplies. A small pick, made of plasteel.  The handle is cracked and it ought not be trusted for hard use.
3) Chopping Trap - a macahuitl mechanism erupts from the floor AND the ceiling - these 2 rows of 3 are synthoak and silver-inset blades, covered with dried blood.  They will hit any character who fails a DC 9 Reflex Save for 2d10 points.  TOK TOK TOK TOK TOK
4) Pit Trap - a hole opens wide below. Suddenly the floor is no longer there, in a quantum sense.  Some long-ago determinate state has collapsed and you hang in mid-air for a moment.  If you are unable to grab the edge, or are not tied to a friend and also fail a DC 16 Reflex Save, then fall into a randomly determined Phlogiston Disturbance.  (note: try not to make it instantly lethal, your Judge-ship)
5) Oddity - The Pyrocaustic Globe-Eye:  It sees all things, and is a local manifestation of the Jaguar That Will Come at The End of Time.  It will gleefully take Prophecy Coins, manifest the Phlogiston Event in the most damaging way possible, and the wink out with a thunderclap. Don't touch it, or else you are burned to cinders and what comes back is like you, but without a tongue, and it's bonded to Obitu-Que in addition to whatever Patrons your previous incarnation had.
6) Blasted skeletons in a loose circle
7) An oracle.  You must be an unmutated Aerethian, possibly descended from the lords of ancient Aereth that commisioned this place (Halflings, Humans, Elves or Dwarves only).  A 3 point Sta loss of blood manifests if you touch this Ultra-bronze scorpion-like device; it quivers for a moment, and a graceful pedipalp whips out to take a blood sample.  If you pass the genetic test (automatic for the character types described), then you are offered some vision of yourself; burned and scarred but powerful and vengeful, atop a stone pyramid with a solar eclipse behind you.  You toss a head down the stairs of the pyramid and see that it is ...
8) A dying looter, poisoned, bleeding, and scorched.  He has 3 loot rolls worth of goods.  He won't last long unless healed of 3 points of damage.  If the party wishes, they may acquire a untrustworthy but absolutely loyal (to the character that saves him) 1st level Chaotic thief as a follower or backup character.  His look matches the flattened foreheads and filed-down teeth of those in the pictoglyphs that surround you, here.  He also has a dataslate that offers the coordinates for this Barrow but no other information.
9) Texts/Prophecies - 2 Level 3 spell scrolls, either one of which (and only one) may be copied by a Wizard into her spellbook
10) An Ultrabronze Statue - The outstretched arm of a muscular warrior defiantly gestures to the approaching party to retreat.  He appears to be wildly dangerous and his head-wear suggests a crackling pre-supernova sun, somehow.  His pierced nose has an adamantium spike through it.  There is an actual skeleton interred within this thing, and it will radiate evil and chaotic magic, but will not interact with the party in any manner except to warn it away. This may be a long-dead god, or some depiction of one yet to be
11)  The abode of 12.5 Quicksilver Panther - he is a cyclopean skeletal high priest, an Eye of Fear and Flame, without the Flame.  He yearns for discussion and news from outside.  He will answer honestly any questions put to him with the prophecy coin, but will resent it, and will do his best to obfuscate otherwise.  Any attacks or transgressions will generate a teleport attack, with the offender being teleported away d100 miles unless they save vs magic.  He is not above teleporting the offender UP if they are also rude.  He will propose a walk down the hall for a while, and it will be hard to put him off.  He will offer a Patron Bond to this area's local manifestation of some evil Patron (whatever the player might desire, but an evil and/or chaotic version of it) - this is a one-time offer and only open to those one will stroll a complete circuit of the complex with him and discuss teleological philosophy and end-times.  He lets on that he knows the End is Nigh - but will gleefully withhold concrete details.

I don't think I can keep up this pace for the whole A to Z Challenge!

Tomorrow: Cairn Golems!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A to Z kickoff: Space Opera Item 1

The Altarspace Apparatus for DCC

Space Dungeon flavored (but transportable to other settings)

a DC 12 item to activate: the action die for clerics is a d20, for everyone else it's a d14.

This is a non-descript box with a toggle switch and a flashing indicator. It is a simple but powerful hyperspace generator, attached to a tachyon communicator system on the extra-dimensional side.  It exists semi-permanently within its own continuity and complex mood detecting intelligences scan the user and comrades when in use. Depending upon the user's alignment, the following pertain:

The toggle switch activates it and the air hums serenely (Law), coolly (Neutral), or ominously (Chaos).  The indicator flashes 3 times, twice, then once and a strobe of light escapes and the user and any allies are now in a low, dimly lit room with religious trappings appropriate to the user's alignment.

If a non-cleric, the space exists long enough to pray, collect one's self and bandage a wound.  Comforting music and noises surround the party, depending.  Then the indicator light flashes in a 3/2/1 pattern and the entire surroundings vanish again, leaving the users at precisely the moment and orientation in space-time at which they activated it.  It will not recharge again for use until 1d6+1 days have passed.  Items left in the space will be available in real-space as if they were not dropped in the extra-dimensional area.

if the user is a Cleric or other Ordained minister of some religion, then the device actually opens a chapel!  The chapel is furnished in the tasteful (or whatever) trappings of whatever God or Gods the cleric worships. There will always be some simple (non-spell) text of the deity in the space, as well as a single vial's worth of holy/unholy/sacred water.  In addition, if the cleric has need of it, a standard holy symbol is available.

The space allows a communing with the God at an advantage, and an attempt may be made to do within the space , or the cleric may cast a spell of choice that he or she knows and is available at that time.  Roll two action dice and take the best, but incur disfavor for any failures regardless of success or failure overall.

If a fumble is ever rolled, then the device burns out and may not ever be used again.  If a Double Fumble (with the advantage die, you see) is rolled, the. A Phlogiston Disruption results

Go Forth and Do Their Biddings Subcreature

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