Monday, October 29, 2012

Just a simple Keymaster in search of a Gatekeeper

Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

-This might very well be my favourite movie quote ever. It is a beauty line of throwaway nonsense spoken with great conviction by Vinz Clortho the Terror Dog, who just happens to be possessing the body of weenie accountant Louis Tully (both marvellously played by Rick Moranis).

What I love about it is that it is not even meant to be understood. It does little to further the plot (beyond the hint at a 'pre-chosen form') and only contributes to the world building in the absolutely loosest sense. You don't loose anything from the movie by not understanding what is being said.

This sort of thing is hard to do in most rpgs ("gimme the Monster Manual! I don't remember the stats for a Slor!"), or in any form without sounding idiotic, but it is marvellous when it works.

On a not completely unrelated note, I'm taking another shot at the Malazan books by Stephen Erickson and Ian Cameron Esslemont.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Video Hits Saturday

Also applies to traffic jams and people who do not know how to use the self-checkout machines in the supermarket. Get out of the line!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NaGa-DeMon and LEGO

Once I clear my plate of a few smaller projects, I'm gonna take another shot at NaGaDeMon.

A List of Ghosts from A-Z

Tell'em, Large Marge sent ya.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Drinking and Dragons

*sniff*, someone got metaphorical chocolate in my hypothetical peanut butter.

Drinking Quest.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Video Saturday

It is a well know fact that Canadians of a certain age cannot hear the phrase 'humble pie' without getting this stuck in their heads for two days.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Park of Monsters

"The park of Bomarzo was intended not to please, but to astonish, and like many Mannerist works of art, its symbolism is arcane."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reviews No One Asked For….

The wife rented Prometheus and Chernobyl Diaries. Both managed to take an interesting premise and drive it straight into the ground hard enough to warrant a quick mention. Warning: Spoilers, and at one point I will be saying fuck a lot.

Chernobyl Diaries (the title implies 'found footage' which mercifully, it is not) is about six, very first-world tourists on an adventure tour of Chernobyl, lead a local named Uri. However, once they get back to their van they find it has been sabotaged, and then things start to go kinda badly. It takes too long to get going and once it does all you can do is marvel at the stupidity of the characters. All of it wrapped up in a thundering turd of an ending. 

So, mutant zombies? …. whoopdeshit.

Gameraid: However, Chernobyl Diaries does at least have one redeeming feature. The scenes where the idiot tourists explore and run amok through the abandoned city (when running from C.H.U.D.,down is always a bad choice) are excellent fodder for Post-Apocalyptic or a Zombie Survival game. 
To learn more about CHUD consult your local library!
Alas, we geeks had such high hopes when we first heard of Prometheus, only to watch them crash to the earth like a giant spaceship doing a cartwheel across a volcanic hellscape. Like all franchises, this one seems destined only to turn a once great film into a very small part of a much weaker whole. You know it is a bad sign when the movie was two thirds over before I realized who the main protagonist was supposed to be.

In the first movie we got to experience true Lovecraftian horror as we ventured out into an utterly hostile universe filled with experiences we do not even have a concept for yet, and mysterious beings who barely notice us as they follow their own unknowable agendas.
no, not these guys
Prometheus ignores all that and basically tries to prove that this guy is the greatest scholar in all of human history …
which would be kind of awesome!
I could spend days writing about what goes wrong here, but personally I love that the Engineers worship the Big Giant Head, effectively tying together not only Aliens, but also Predator and Bladerunner with Third Rock from the Sun.
All Hail the Great Shanter's Toupee Stand!
The film also touches on one of my favourite peeves against the 'life on earth originating with aliens' argument, in that two of the characters have the following (paraphrased, but not as much as you'd think) conversation:
      'So the Muthafuckin' Engineers created life on earth?"
      "Fuck yeah!"
      "But, then who created the Muthafuckin' Enginners?"
      "Oh fuck, we'll never know that."

I guess it is still muthafuckin' turtles all the way down.

Gameraid: Can't think of s single thing that would be of particular use to gamers, except maybe the 'laser bots' that mapped out the interior of the ship.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Audrey II

Picked up the Blueray of 'Little Shop of Horrors' with the original (and better) ending where Audrey II destroys New York. In honour of this momentous occasion, here is Audrey II (the second).

This plant first got its name after it was presented to Queen L'Audrey of Krelborn to her by the famed explorer, Sir Bendle the Off-White. He claimed to have found it flowering amidst the ruins of an ancient ziggurat buried deep in the Jungles of Soul. Others claim that you can buy the same plant two for a lucre at The Eclipse Flower Shop just off Mushnick street. 

Regardless of the plant's origins you can no longer find the kingdom of Krelborn on any maps, though some older ones do mark its ruins. 
In its natural habitat, the Audrey II is little more than an aggressive carnivorous plant, content to eat insects, frogs and small animals. Though it is quick growing (retaining most of the mass than it inhumes), in the wild it rarely grows above a foot tall as it is a favorite foodstuff for local tribes and flying monkeys, both of whom enjoy its meaty flavor. 
However, should the Audrey II somehow come into contact with human blood, the plant can become deviously sentient, even gaining the ability to speak local languages once it reaches the height of about six feet.  It will also have fully prehensile tendrils that can reach up to 20 feet in length. By this time, it requires the equivalent of one hundred pounds of raw meat a week to survive, but its growth rate is still extremely high and if it has a chance to feed again it will quickly sprout to almost twelve feet high, with tendrils are close to 50feet and strong enough to drag the plant over limited distances. The plant's mobility increases with size and there is no known limit to how large an Audrey II can get. In the ruins of one ancient temple, there is a mosaic that seems suggest they can grow large enough to destroy buildings, even cities. The mosaic even references the plant's distinctive deep, booming laugh.  
Large, wild Audrey IIs are known to exist, though they are thought to be rare. While extremely dangerous, most do not seem to display any signs of sentience. However, sailors warn that on the small island of Scrivello just of the north coast of Zhuul, there is a tribe of sadistic pygmies known as the Orin!ko who worship a giant man-eating plant who rules over them as a god.  
 Audrey II (10feet)
Audrey II ignores all Minor Wounds.
-Multiple Attacks
The plant can perform a number of tendril attacks per round (two attacks per opponent!), but only one bite attack per round is permitted.
-Tendril Grab
Once a round, the plant can attempt to grab an opponent. This requires a Moderate attack, but if successful the next round it can begin to squeeze, doing +3 damage per round. It requires a Hard action to break free of the plant.
-Rooted in place
At this stage, the Audrey II still requires to be rooted in soil. It is capable of dragging itself a few meters, but its tendril's are not yet strong enough for independent movement.
Main Body
Damage: Bite +5
Armour: -5 (main body)
S: 3
G: 3
Damage: +2(hit), +3(squeeze)
Armour -1
M: 2
S: 1
G: Severed.
Labyrinth Lord
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 2'(1')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 2 (tendril), 1 bite
Damage: tendril d4, bite d10
Save: F8
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: II
-Tendril's are severed with damage of 4 or more.

Mean Green Mother (Audrey 20ft)
Audrey II ignores all Minor and Serious Wounds from mundane weapons.
-Multiple Attacks
The plant can perform a number of tendril attacks per round (one attack per opponent), but only one bite attack per round is permitted.
-Tendril Grab
Once a round, the plant can attempt to grab an opponent. This requires a Moderate attack, but if successful the next round it can begin to squeeze, doing +8 damage per round. It requires an Impossible action to break free of the plant.
-Swallow Whole
If a person is grabbed, the plant will attempt to eat them in two rounds if they are not freed.
At this stage, the plant is capable of movement (10'/round), but still requires soft earth to root itself in during non-active periods.
Main Body
Damage: Bite +10
Armour: -10 (main body)
S: 5
G: 5
Damage: +5(hit), +8(squeeze)
Armour -5
M: 2
S: 1
G: 2 (for sever)

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 20'(10')
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 10
Attacks: 2 (tendril), 1 bite
Damage: tendril d8, bite d20
Save: F12
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: VI
-tendril's are severed with damage of 8 or more.

Monday, October 15, 2012

DungeonMash II: The PDFing

DungeonMash is not a roleplaying rules supplement. If a character needs to shoot a gun, cast a spell or hack the tubes of the inter-web you use the existing rules-set of your favourite game. Nor is it an adventure module, though you are encouraged to pillage, pluck and plunder from anything on your game shelf (or book shelf, or movie shelf, or video game collection etc).

Instead it can be best described as an accessory for those game nights when no one really wants to run anything.

How to Play
Instead of having one person at the table running an adventure while the others sit around and play on their phones, gossip eat pizza and ignore you, in DungeonMash the players each take turns being the referee (or Dungeonmaster, or Gamemaster, or Judge etc).

There are a couple of ways to do this, in fact you could probably just grab your gaming group and do your own version right now. This is the kind of go gett’um attitude we’re looking for, because frankly, I have no desire to turn this into a 300page how-to guide.

The action should be restricted to a small area that none of the players or their characters is familiar with. Examples could be a dungeon, a small town, a haunted wood, a sprawling mansion etc.

It is recommended that each player describes only one small section before turning the referee duties over to the next player.

Getting Started
Some things the group should decide on before play:

What rules are we using here? What edition? Are house rules permitted?

Theme of the dungeon
 A haunted moor? Mad sorcerer’s manse? Caverns of the Ice Moon? There is some flexibility here, depending on what level of gonzo the group is comfortable with. If one player wants to run a traditional dungeon crawl, but a second player would rather run an exploration through an abandoned spaceship and everyone is okay with that, then there is no real reason why not. The party would then shift from abandoned mine to a starship corridor depending on who is running that particular room. In fact this sort of play is encouraged (hence the MASH portion of the title) and you might be surprised at what kind of story result from this sort of play.

However, once a player decides on a theme, they should stick with it.

Wandering Monsters
The group should decide on 10 to 20 monsters that are ‘wandering’ through their dungeon. If it is a player’s turn to be the referee, but they have absolutely NO idea what else they want to do, they can select one of these wandering monsters to throw at the party. Players are allowed to run monsters that are not on the Wandering Monster list.

How many rooms?
You may want to limit the number of rooms (or areas) are going to go into your dungeon. Depending on time constraints and the number of people at the table, have each player run a specific number of encounters. This also allows the players to save their good stuff for the last.

Decided on the loot. This can be it money, XP, items or any variation thereof. There must be as many reward items as there are players, but they must have at least one that is clearly better than the others (called the ‘Big Bonus’) and one that sucks in comparison to the rest (called ‘the Shaft). Any rewards in between can be of descending or equivalent value. How the reward are given out is covered in the next section.

Keeping Score
Every time a player becomes the referee, they gain 1 point. If a player passes their turn, or happens to be in the washroom, they get squat.

When they are done their section, every other player gives the referee a score between 0 and 4 points. The referee meanwhile, can choose to award any or all players a few points (usually 1 or 2) if they feel that a player did something exceptional.

At the end of the game, the points are tallied and the player with the highest point total gets the Big Bonus, while the player with the lowest total gets The Shaft.  Ties can be split by rolling a die, rock-paper-scissors or in Thunderdome.


Adhoc Adventures
This works best if the game has a fair number of pre-published adventure modules. Everybody grabs an adventure module, the first player details entrance to their adventure and then runs any relevant encounters. The next player then runs a room from her adventure module, and so on around the table.

If the group is comfortable mashing things up from different variants (GURPS, D&D Spelljammer/Ravenloft/Darksun etc), or even from different games entirely (Shadowrun/Ghostbusters/Bunnies and Burrows), then go crazy!

The Random Table Experience
Make a mess of random tables and force the player whose turn it is to be referee to roll up a room size, a monster, event and treasures. They don’t have to be large…

Example Dungeon: Roll 1D6 for each column.
Step 1: Room
1          Small Room
2          Small Corridor
3          Medium Room
4          Medium Corridor
5          Large Room
6          Long Corridor
Step 2: Exits
1-2       No exits
3          1 exit
4          2 exits
5          3 exits
6          Secret door

Step 3: Event
1          Nothing
2-3       Monster
4          Trap
5          Player’s choice
6          Roll twice!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Memories of Slime

Scientific article on how slimes think, remember and make decisions. What if a Gelatenous Cube could seek revenge?

On a related note, has anyone made it a house-rule where if a party member says 'I don't know', they are automatically attacked by a green slime?

Cuz if there isn't one, there should be.

LEGO Superfriends!

Though they've made some clunkers (Harry Potter), Tt's LEGO games, on the average have been pretty awesome. And the original BATMAN game was one of their best.
I'm looking forward to this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gravity Falls

If you're a fan of of geeky cartoons with a bit of an adult slant, I recommend Gravity Falls. Here is a picture of a gnome barfing rainbows;
If that doesn't make you at least curious, then the show probably isn't for you.  

Monday, October 8, 2012


I've been looking into GMless systems of late (highly recommended, Something Bad Happens) when I had something approximating an idea (though it has probably been tried before). For those nights when no one wants to GM, the group chooses what rules-system they want to play. Then everyone gabs their own adventure module. If people are comfortable adapting a module from a different game, or setting, or scaling up/down from a different level module, so much the better!

One player goes first and is the GM for that round. He describes the entrance to his 'dungeon' and runs any encounters. Then the party moves inside and the next player is now the GM and she describes a room or corridor from her module, running any encounters ... and so on.  

Wanna get weird but don't want to jigger with the rules too much?; go with a D&Dmash; use a Dark Sun/Starjammer/Planescape/Forgotten Realms mash. Wanna go a little weirder? Open  up to anything! Personally, I'd I'd love to play an All Flesh Must Be Eaten/Shadowrun/Paranoia!/GammaWorld mash.

The Righteous Hand of Ser Goiter

A member of the Righteous Brotherhood, Ser Goiter lost his arm to an infected toddler bite soon after the Siege of the Black Orphanage. Consulting the order's blacksmiths, he had them build a prosthetic flexible enough to weld a pen, or a mace. Later, he had it blessed by the Most Righteous Poomba, giving the wearer the bonus of +2 (Blessed) Damage to all magical creatures, undead and orphans.

Of course, you have to lose your arm first.

via Retronaut

Sunday, October 7, 2012

RollCore Character Creation Part 2

MSG stands for Minor, Serious and Grievous and stands for how many Wounds a character can withstand. Starting characters begin with 2 Wounds in each category, but that number can be changed with Traits or Flaws.

Minor Wounds are automatically healed after a battle is over.
Serious Wounds require a significant period of rest to heal.
Grievous Wounds can only be healed through medical or magical means. If a character fills all their Grievous Wounds they are dead or at least permanently affected/crippled.

How you take Damage will be covered in the Combat Section.

Origin stories are boring, goals are interesting. Players who give their character a Quest gain a starting BS point. Starting Quests can be almost anything the player imagines and a few famous examples might include; ‘deliver a load of spice to a crime boss’, ‘kill the six fingered man’, ‘find a way back to Kansas’, and ‘kill Bill’.

The goals do not have to be that lofty, but they cannot be easy (‘find a penny’, ‘put on socks’ are not goals). Fulfilling a Quest earns the character a BS point at which time they are free to choose another goal.

Sample Character
[edit: forgot the MSG]
Ozz Dogleg, the Pirate
-Skill: Combat
-Pirate stuff, Arg!
-Starburns’s High Hat; Ozz wears a tall hat given to him by his father, who claims he found it on a deserted island perched on the skull of the infamous pirate captain known as Starburns. While wearing the hat, Ozz is often mistaken for the missing captain, which often intimidates enemies and allows him to bluff his way out of difficult situations.
Quest: Ozz is looking for his father who disappeared off the Emerald Coast nearly ten years ago while in search of the lost city of Sierra Wapo.
BS Points: 1

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kids in the Hall Saturday

Why watch a clip when you can have an entire new RED DWARF episode!
Later that Day:
Ben Elton (Blackadder) once said that with every series there are two bad episodes, two okay episodes and two great ones. At least this way there can be only crappy one left ... right?

Well, here is where my Xmas bonus is going...

Full Press Release
10937 Batman™ – Arkham Asylum Breakout
Ages 14+. 1,351 pieces.
US $159.99 CA $209.99 DE 159.99€ UK 129.99 £ DK 1399.00 DKK

The villains have broken out of Arkham Asylum and must be stopped! Sound the alarm! The Joker, The Penguin, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow have escaped from Arkham Asylum with the help of Dr. Harleen Quinzel. These villains are about to wreak havoc in the streets of Gotham City! Help Caped Crusaders Batman™ and Robin swoop into action and put those good-for-nothing criminals back where they belong! Chase after the security van as it breaks through the gothic gates! Then throw each villain back behind bars in 8 highly detailed rooms. Includes 8 minifigures: Batman™, Robin, The Joker, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Dr. Harleen Quinzel, Scarecrow and a guard, all with assorted weapons or accessories

•Includes 8 minifigures: Batman™, Robin, The Joker, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Dr. Harleen Quinzel, Scarecrow and a guard, all with assorted weapons
•Features Arkham Asylum, security gate, gothic d├ęcor, moss, vines and ice elements
•Vehicles include security van
•Security van features opening back doors, removable roof and stretcher
•Arkham Asylum features opening cell doors, special Poison Ivy cell with transparent doors, the Mr. Freeze icy tower room, the Dr. Harleen Quinzel office and changing room, medical treatment room and security reception area
•Security gate features opening double doors and security camera
•Weapons include Batarang and kendo stick
•Recapture the villains!
•Break through the gate with the security van!
•Open all of the cell doors and let the villains out!
•Unleash The Joker from his cage restraints in the security van!
•Arkham Asylum measures over 12″ (32cm) high, 13″ (34cm) wide and 5″ (14cm) deep
•Security van measures over 2″ (7cm) high, 5″ (13cm) long and 2″ (6cm) wide
•Security gate measures over 5″ (12cm) high and 9″ (24cm) wide

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It Could Have Been Worse

Your results:
You are Will Riker
Will Riker
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Mr. Scott
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Mr. Sulu
Geordi LaForge
Deanna Troi
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Jean-Luc Picard
Beverly Crusher
At times you are self-centered
but you have many friends.
You love many women, but the right
woman could get you to settle down.
Click here to take the "Which Star Trek character am I?" quiz...

Guy on Craiglist Looking for a Topless Dungeon Master

BTW: It is not recommended you look up "Topless Dungeon Master", that is a completely different sub culture altogether.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Circle is Closed

Babylon 5 was probably my first real SF love after Star Wars. I am proud to call myself a Trekkie, but B5's long-term approach to storytelling blew my mind and its CG ships showed me what real hard sf (or the closest that TV gets) could be. I remember hunting through the local TV guide that came with the Saturday paper to see when it would be on, and a row of VHS tapes sitting in a box and traded with friends for missed episodes.

Michael O'Hare was a big part of that experience and the universe is a little smaller now that he is gone.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

RollCore: Character Creation Part 1

RollCore Characters
Rather than a spreadsheet worth of stats, skills and numbers, Rollcore characters have only Traits, MSG, BS Points, Accoutrements and a Quest.

Start by selecting three Traits. Traits are skills, talents and abilities that define the character and influence game play. Describing the character as attractive is not a Trait, but describing the character as so mindboggling beautiful that men and women swoon, would be. A trait can be almost anything the player wishes, subject to GM veto (which must be used with extreme caution. It is recommended that a GM not tell a player NO too often, but instead carefully governs how a powerful Trait may be played in game).

Any Species besides human (i.e., Elf, Dwarf, Martian etc) is considered a Trait. Other, non-skill Traits are up to the player and may include things like extra MSG (we'll get to Wounds soon), special weapons or equipment and Skills.

Skills are traits that reflect a character's area of training and expertise. If a character has the skill and something related to that skill comes up in-game, the character may now roll between 1-4 for Easy tasks, 4-6 for Moderate Tasks, and 5 or 6 for Hard tasks.

Skill List: Physical, Science, Mechanical, Art, Scholar, Pilot, Thievery, Magic, Professional, Hobby, Combat.

Skills may be taken more than once to reflect more specialized areas of training. (i.e., Physical: Acrobatics). In this instance, if something comes up that might involve the character using her Acrobatics Skill (such as Jackie Channing up and over a locked gate), the Difficulty Level is dropped by one. If the Difficulty Level is already Easy, then there is no added bonus, but it does allow the Character to attempt Impossible feats without expending a BS point.

Flaws (Optional)
A player may also choose to give her character up to two Flaws which, like a Trait must be significant enough to affect gameplay. For the first Flaw, the character gains an extra BS point. For the second flaw, the character gains an extra Trait.

Why Gandalf Never Married

A talk given by Terry Pratchett in 1985

Link Fixed!

Neil Gaiman's Rules for Writing

Because this is important.

'She's a harbor chick!"

No doubt you are all dying to hear my thoughts on the last Doctor Who of 2012.

Nice use of the timey-whimey elements. Some genuinely affecting moments, both creepy and touching, and a fitting send off to a pair of characters that were beginning overstay their welcome (not because they were bad characters per say, but because the Doctor was becoming part of their family and therefore more human, which undercuts what the Doctor fundamentally is).

That being said ….

The plot was once again full of 'Moffatisms', which means a splatterplot of random crap crammed in for no reason; the detective and the rich dude who collects the Angels leap immediately to mind. And for that matter, setting it in the New York was pointless. There was no reason this episode could not have been set in any large city, which bring me to …

The Statue of Liberty as Stone Angel has my vote as the biggest unintentional laugh in the history of Who. It commits the writer's sin of violating the internal logic of the story and the Angels. Liberty is one of the most recognizable landmarks on the planet, surrounded by a city of a gazillion people …I'd bet real money that at any given moment, SOMEONE is looking at it. And even in the split second they might not be, they'd certainly notice a second later that it was gone.

This io9 review sums it up better than I can, and points out a lot more of the inconsistencies in the episode.