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Friday, 9 December 2016

Thursday, 8 December 2016

DCC Campaign Backstage: The Backstagening pt.7

Pundit: Happy birthday Shebubu?

Shebubu: Yes. Thanks.

Bill: Level up! Rick/Rickandra/Chu/Shebubu and whoever I am forgetting.

Shebubu: The Dwarf but I forgot his name already. And Shul.

Bill: Shul, right.

Bill: Transparent wizard, heavy breathing.

Transparent Wizard: I managed to half-complete an 11x11x11

Pundit: That man in the rubik's picture is one of the world's most accomplished virgins.

Bill: LOL

Bill: Verschlimmbessern should be a patron taint if bill were a patron.

Morris: Well, then, who is going?

Bill: You, Shebubu, the Equestrian? Priscilla.The Old Lady.

Shebubu: No. Priscilla stays behind. Its the whole demon idol thing again, I am not going to toilet train it.

Bill: You heal me, so, whatever you say, boss

Shebubu: I was expecting the Losha-the-Fishman treatment, Well this is a lot better.

Bill: then kill her and be done with it.  Bill wont, she is a reminder of Ted.
But if you do, Bill will not stop you. We will go later to look for this bomb thing
Bill's Priorities, clear things up with the Azure Order, learn find object, off the vampire, nuke Monautholia.

OMG, that sounds delicious!

Bill: Giving Priscilla to the Archemaster would kill two birds with one shot.

Shebubu: She is not a virgin, or human, or perfect.

Bill: Mmmm, correct.

Shebubu: All things wrong.

Bill: We can find one with Locate Object.

Equestrian: Ok, it's a no on my side. I won't be done with work on time tomorrow so I'll have to skip this one too. Sorry guys, see you next one.
Also, feeding Priscilla to the Archmaester was my idea first!

Shebubu: Shite.

Pundit: Well, it'll be three players then. Should be good fun anyways!

Bill: Great.  Just to check, Morris, will you be on time? Or shall we start without you and meet you in the Azure Tower?

Morris: I don't think so. Do as you will.

Bill: OK. Maybe they sent you there from Gaga to go through creep camp and clear your head.

Morris: I'm going.

Bill: OK.

(after the session)

Shebubu: I don't think anyone would expect the happiest place in the world would be called the shithole.

Bill: We almost saw a bullete.

Shebubu: And what I think was a Mi-Go or a Byakee or something else entirely.

Morris: Bckaw! Bckaw!

Shebubu: Yes, cacatua sounds. Perfect with a chicken dance.

Bill: Sigh.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billiard + Image Latakia

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Classic Rant: Arrows of Indra: Yakshas

You know, some have criticized that the demi-human races in Arrows of Indra can be paralleled to standard AD&D races. As I've said, I don't find that something criticizable. We're better off with a set of races that very generally follow the same set of niches as the ones gamers have been using for 40 years now; rather than presenting a bunch of races that are night-unplayable in their weirdness. The fact that the races that are in AoI were all chosen right from the Indian sources, and in versions that were true to these sources (or at least, to SOME of the interpretations of these sources), is the important part, and points to the ultimate commonalities in Indian and Western Mythological cultures.

And again, NONE of the races chosen in Arrows of Indra (save humans, of course) are a carbon-copy imitation of an equivalent D&D race. They all have significant individual aspects. Gandharva are perhaps the closest in aspect to a D&D race (elves), but I think even there, their strong religious element ("profoundly religious" not being something you typically associate with "elves") marks for an important difference.
Rakshasas are pretty much their own thing. You can maybe put them on the same spectrum of "type" as the Tiefling or Half-Orc, but they come up very different.
Vanara share a few traits in common with halflings, but again, they also have a bunch of qualities that make them stand out, starting with the fact that they're monkeys (and all that entails).

And now we come to Yakshas. Dwarves, right? I mean they're short, bearded, live on mountains, love gold, like to fight, right? Dwarves.
Well, not exactly. Yes, they are clearly a Dwarf-like race (which the Indians had as part of their mythology along with just about every other human culture...), and they like to fight. But let's note first that they live ON mountains, not "IN" mountains; that's something of a difference right there. Yaksha cities will be built on the surface, or within the very outer edge of a mountain, not somewhere deep below. They may be found deep below, however, because sometimes they're obliged to go down there to protect some treasure of Shiva's, but they don't really love being underground. 
Ah yes, they're also religious, like the Gandharvas. Huge devotees, usually of Shiva but sometimes of Indra or other gods. Aside from being tasked with guarding the god's treasures, they are also entrusted to act as guards and guardians of sacred (Magical) places, places of divine power on the earth.

So let's start with that, then: the Yakshas are a race that exists, that was created by the gods, to act as guards for the gods' treasure. If you start with THAT as your defining element of culture, purpose and nature for the Yakshas as a racial type, you're going to end up with something rather different than Gimli, son of Gloin.

They live in the same places as Gandharvas, and the two races are best buddies. Not much like Elves and Dwarfs in most worlds, but it makes perfect sense if the former are the Gods' messengers and entertainers and the latter the gods' treasury-guards. And they're both ultra-religious.

Yakshas spend a great deal of time in lengthy and ornate religious rituals. They also love and deeply value learning of all kinds, and are considered deeply erudite. They'll often pause in the middle of things to give longwinded lectures meant to educate others, especially the lesser races (like humanity). Again, I don't typically think of Greyhawk Dwarfs as being extremely dedicated to learning or great lovers of philosophical discourse.

They are, at the same time, deeply emotional beings, who can be prone to bouts of passion, depression, and wrath. If the mythology is to be believed, they're prone to falling in love with any half-decent bit of leg they cross paths with, regardless of species. And when in love, they write poetry; and if that love is spurned, they either become whiny depressed emo-types or they go on blood-soaked rampages.

That doesn't sound much like any stereotypical dwarf-race I know of from D&D.

What it does sound like is a race that is approachable for gamers, particularly old-school gamers, who are used to playing dwarfs; but are in fact a completely new "take" on that niche than what you will find in a standard game. In other words, the best of both worlds.


(Originally posted November 2, 2013)

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Wild West Campaign Update: The Preacher

In this weekend's adventure, the PCs were faced with a couple of disparate challenges. The first was largely comic relief, as the hillbilly Asa Leadbeater came to Dodge looking to shoot it out with the Ford County Jailor, Cooter. The Cooters and the Leadbeaters had been feuding for generations, so long ago that they couldn't quite remember what had started the feud, though they agree it had something to do with a pig, possibly one that someone had engaged in illicit marital-style relations with.

In any case, the lawmen in town tried to keep the two apart, and when that didn't seem to work Deputy Young decided he had to arrest Leadbeater. But Leadbeater accused Cooter of 'bringin the damnyankee law into this'.  Cooter was mortified, since apparently that went against the hillbilly code, and found himself having to actually spring Leadbeater from jail so the two could duel it out like men. To stop either from of them from getting themselves or others killed, Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson decided to take matters into their own hands. They beat the two into unconsciousness, disarmed them, and locked them into a cell together, where they spent several days 'wrastling' until they were exhausted. Finally, they agreed to a plan to end the feud, whereby Cooter would supply Asa with a new (virgin) pig to take home with him, thus making amends for his ancestor's depravity.

The second was of a more serious sort. A mysterious hellfire-n-brimstone preacher came into town. By a fortunate coincidence, or unfortunate as the case may be, this happened just as Miller accidentally got himself involved (by a series of crazy mishaps) in the founding of a new evangelical church right on Front Street, in the locale of a former bar who's owner had a 'come to Jesus' moment and decided to become a teetotaler. The new church is not doing well until this preacher comes in and declares that the Holy Spirit gives him visions, and that in 24 hours he will prophecy the death of someone in Dodge. This news spreads like wildfire through the town, with everyone eager to see what happens.

(yes, the part of "the Preacher" in this adventure was played by special guest star Johnny Cash)

Everyone except the Mormon gambler. In a quip that won him the best line of the night, he said to his girlfriend miss Becky, "I don't trust any dubious prophecies".  If it isn't coming from the inside of a hat with golden plates and a magic rock, that is.

The Preacher does indeed predict that a certain cowboy, come into town a couple of months back, is going to be "struck down by God"; declaring it in front of half the town gathered for the event. The cowboy looks very visibly shaken by what is a very impressive spectacle on the intimidating preacher's part. And the preacher refuses to recant, or to accept the man's claims of seeking to repent.

Over the next day, the man given the death-curse is becoming more rapidly frantic about it, in spite of the efforts of a couple of the PCs to try to get him to not take the accusation seriously. It's exasperated when stories come around that this Preacher did the same thing in Hays City and the man whose death he predicted did in fact die in a shootout less than three days later. The whole town is staring at the cowboy like he's a dead man walking.

The town Doc, who is a strong skeptic of any kind of religious quackery, does some investigating and he finds out that the man who died in Hays was shot dead by onlookers after he drew on the preacher himself, having been driven mad by the preacher's prediction and his unwillingness to retract it. He shares this with some of the PCs, expressing his concern that the story is now going to repeat itself in Dodge.

(yes, the part of Dodge City's "Doc Bakker" is played by DeForest Kelley)

At one point, Deputy Young decides that to try to save the situation, he'll arrest the Preacher too (like he did Asa Leadbeater). But this turns out to be a mistake, because its one thing to put a hillbilly in the hoosegow, and quite another to lock up a man of God that the whole town is excited about. He's forced to quickly release the Preacher for fear of a PR nightmare.

The PCs do their best to try to control the situation, and finally, the cowboy breaks down, admitting his terrible guilt. He knows he's certainly worthy of being punished by God; because he and two of his partners robbed and murdered a family of farmers, even killing their two boys, sparing only a very young girl. In desperation to avoid divine wrath, the cowboy confesses his crimes to Deputy Young, who finally makes an arrest that day which will actually stick.

When the man is imprisoned, and learns about the Preacher's other victim in Hays, it's discovered that the first victim was one of the cowboy's co-conspirators. They all realize that the Preacher has tricked them, though he doesn't actually seem to have committed any crime.  Smith confronts the preacher about this, and the preacher subtly admits that he has some connection to the little girl who survived the attack; Smith for his part decides there's nothing more to do than shake the man's hand, impressed by his clever plot for revenge. The Preacher moves on, off to find the third guilty man, who he'll presumably do the same to.

Finally, it was also election season in Dodge. The two political factions, the "Gang" (which consisted of most of Dodge's saloon owners, lawmen, and other scoundrels) and the "Better People" (consisting of Dodge's other businessmen, the town Reverend (the "real" one that is, Reverend Wright), and Marshall Deger), were facing off to determine the future of the city. When the votes are counted, the results are somewhat split but the Gang has won the two sweetest plums: saloon proprietor and bear-owner James "Dog" Kelly is now Mayor of Dodge, while Bat Masterson is the new Sheriff of Ford County.

(Bat Masterson)

Masterson is replacing Charlie Bassett, who by state law couldn't seek a third term. It was originally planned by the gang that if Masterson and Kelly both won, they'd appoint Bassett as town Marshall, deposing the obese corrupt Larry Deger in that post. This convinced Bassett to officially endorse Masterson, which was probably responsible for Masterson beating Deger in the election (given that Masterson won by only 3 votes!).  But then it turns out Masterson has another idea. He plans to convince the city council to get his brother Ed a job as town Marshall. When Charlie Bassett hears about this (because Bat blabbed it to Kid Taylor while he was drunk at victory party held in the Alhambra Saloon, and Kid Taylor famously can't keep his mouth shut about anything so the whole town quickly hears tell about it), Bassett decides he needs to have some 'words' about this with Masterson.

(Charlie Bassett)

The 'words' turn out to be a fistfight, but Masterson is a silver-tongued devil. When the two men come back into town they're both bruised up a bit, but they've made amends. Bassett will be Masterson's deputy Sheriff, Bat having convinced Charlie that his extensive knowledge of the countryside and its inhabitants would make him much more useful in that position than as town Marshall. And since Wyatt doesn't want the Marshall job (it would require renegotiating his salary), and neither does Young (because it would involve too much politics rather than just lawkeeping), Bat's brother Ed is the perfect man for it (which incredibly, he gets everyone to agree on in spite of no one actually having met Ed yet).

That's everything for this session. Stay tuned for more adventures in Dodge.


Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Virginia

Monday, 5 December 2016

Break Monday: Wild Parties Edition

Today on, we check out 12 of History's Most Influential Parties.  These were epic bashes that each, in their own way, changed the course of our world.

So, check it out, and as always if you like the article please share it!


Currently Smoking: Neerup Hawkbill + Image Virginia

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Cults of Chaos Featured in Knights of The Dinner Table!

So the latest issue of Knights of The Dinner Table is out, and it features a review, a very positive review, of Cults of Chaos!

The review is by J. L. Duncan, who's done quite a few reviews for KoDT, and he has lots of great things to say about Cults. Obviously, you'll have to pick up KoDT to get the full review, but I'll give you a preview: he says that "As a product it’s not only a Game Master’s toolkit, but probably the best system neutral plot-kit device I’ve read."

So there we are, Cults of Chaos keeps racking up praise!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti half-volcano + C&D's Bailey's Front Porch

Saturday, 3 December 2016 Saturday: Science vs. Mysticism Edition

Modern science is looking more and more like what the (serious, not deepak-chopra-style) Eastern Mystics have been saying for literally 3000 years now. 

 Has science got something to learn from mystics who, even without the scientific method, figured out some of the details about the nature of reality that they themselves are now only starting to guess at?

Check out the details in my article, Has Science Just Become Taoism Now

And as always, if you like it, please share!


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Amber Root Bulldog + C&D's Crowley's Best