Jul. 23rd, 2017 01:01 pm

Grab bag

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[personal profile] jamie
I've been lurking around the edges of the stuff out of SDCC and D23. The pirated Infinity War trailer was interesting? And utterly unsurprising.

A household that I'm friends with got news that their landlord is kicking them out with 60 days notice. Most of them have lived in the house for 19ish years? There is some flailing going on there. I took them out to dinner and it was nice to see them in the midst of their now imminent move and mine on Tuesday.

Did a walk around in my neighborhood. I am going to miss this place. I was finally able to articulate to a friend that while I'm sick of this area and how precious (and expensive) it's gotten, I've been squeezed out of the job market here and it sucks. And my destination wasn't on my radar as a spot to move to. Maybe after I get a cat again it won't suck?

Two sleeps left. I pack the truck tomorrow afternoon.
Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:31 am

What does the party look like?

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Posted by Jeff Rients

I don't usually use the jump break thingy when writing a blog post, but I'm going to try it here today.  Hopefully it works.

Anyway, I'd like you to close your eyes and imagine a typical D&D party.  Once you've got that idea in your head, click the thing to load the rest of the post.





I feel like a lot of the art in decades of mainstream fantasy gaming products trained us to imagine the typical party as something like this:
Please understand that I am not against this vision of PCs at all.  Your basic plain vanilla fighters, clerics, magic-users, thieves, elves, dwarves, and halflings are super duper welcome in my games.  In fact, I pretty much build my campaigns around that sort of party composition as the default.

But then there are the other options for envisioning the party.  I think they're equally valid.




Apparently this is the cover to a villains book.
They look like PCs to me.








Anyway, my point here--other than showing you some cool art--is that if there's a class or race that you really want to try, something in an old game product or that you saw on a blog somewhere, then maybe my campaign is the place to try it.  The Vaults of Vyzor have already been visited by a muscle wizard, a mutated goblin paladin, and a carpenter, just to name a few of the weirdos I've seen.  There's no reason why an uldra from Dragon magazine or a rune weaver from Arduin or darn near anything from the character class section of OSR Links to Wisdom couldn't visit my dungeon.  I mean, what's the worst case scenario?  The way I figure it the worst case scenario is that you wreck up my dungeon for part of a run and either your character is killed or I ask you not to bring that particular PC back.

So if that pitch appeals to you and you're free from 5am to 7am on Friday mornings (10 to noon Greenwich), get the rest of the details and the link to the sign-up sheet here.
Jul. 22nd, 2017 01:50 pm

Nirvana in Fire

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[personal profile] momijizukamori
Some assorted thoughts which I will try to keep spoiler-free? No guarantees about stuff in the comments though. I'm about halfway through and oh my god this series is so good.

-Jingrui is like, the obligatory precious cinnamon roll too good for this sinful world, too pure.

-I can't think of the last time I watched something live-action where men were allowed to show this dynamic range of feelings, both physically and verbally. And even in anime, dudes crying is usually only at the emotional climax of stuff, so it's really nice to have a range of sorrow and regret and longing and joy regularly shown from a variety of characters.

-Likewise, it's really great to have a huge variety of women of various roles and backgrounds and motivation who get plenty of screentime - there's definitely a sense that even if their positions are different than those of the men, they still have a great deal of power of various forms

-By which I mean I would let Nihaung use me as a doormat, what a fucking badass.

-Commander Meng does not have an ounce of guile in his body, and it's sort of adorable, particularly after he was introduced as such a serious badass.

-Basically every interaction between Lin Shu and his household is wonderful and precious. It's really clear how much they all care about him, even if they don't know how to keep him from literally working himself to death.

-EVERYTHING IS SO PRETTY. Comes with the 'historical drama' territory, I guess, but god, some of the hair ornaments are to die for.
Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:22 am

a handout for raw recruits

[syndicated profile] jrients_gameblog_feed

Posted by Jeff Rients

Running a demo game somewhere?  Luring some nice, normal people into the sordid world of elves and orcs?  In my experience, one of the hurdles newbies often face is making sense of the weirdo dice.  So I made this:

How to Dice

This document is a public domain release.  The images are already in the public domain.  So, please feel free to include this page in other stuff like demo packets and GM kits if it meets your needs.
Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:52 pm

A Star Has Fallen

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[personal profile] tcpip
"Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc"

Yesterday I was informed that an old friend and former housemate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Erica W., had died of a stroke. For those that knew her, this has been a terrible shock. She was relatively young, and seemed so alive, and seemed to have so much to contribute to this world. It is a harsh reminder that friends can be lost at any time with the randomness of life.

When I first met her she and her partner at the time, James, were in their mid-teens. Intelligent, attractive, highly alternative, and very fashionable, they were already living together and regularly visiting local nightclubs, where they were very well-regarded for the characteristics mentioned. There was an especially amusing moment when a local newspaper printed her in a vox-pop what her preferred nightclub was - and mentioned her age in the credit.

"Morphology, longevity, incept dates"

Whilst in Perth we shared two households at different times - the first was the famous "accelerated house", a dilapidated duplex pair with questionable plumbing. Part of the duplex was the home of the Accelerated Men, a goth band of some repute. The place was wired up a local area network with a AlphaMicro AM-100, and came with its own stray cat (Velocity) which I adopted. Several years later, at the final place where I lived in Perth, we were in more normal accommodation. I could help but chuckle a little at my highly fashion-conscious housemates who could spend hours in preparation on going out. I also remember showing them the Internet at the time; a text-based interface to usenet groups. "This", I implored sagaciously, "is going to change everything". I don't think they quite believed me at the time, so it was with great fondness catching up with James just a couple of years ago, and recalling that moment, he said: "And you were right!".

At the time Erica was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and despite being a witty conversationalist, was physically in the doldrums. A few years later however, and I suspect heavily because of the direction provided by our mutual friend Bruce T., there had been a complete change, as she had become quite a figure in the fashion industry and was running her own label and store, Alysian Empire. I still have some of their clothes to this day. Later she would go on to have another fashion label of even greater renown, ericaamerica.

In the post-Alysian Empire period we only caught up in person a couple of times, and more recently exchanged a few messages, courtesy of the 'borg of social media. Despite this we had the sort of friendship where years could literally go by and when we did get in contact our banter could continue as if no time had passed at all. It was a friendship built on mutual understanding and respect, of affirmation of each other, of strong and happy shared memories. The mention of her name in conversation would always brighten my day and bring me joy; but not this time.

"Tyrell had told me Rachael was special: no termination date. I didn't know how long we had together. Who does?"
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Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:36 pm

SHREW

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[personal profile] rydra_wong posting in [community profile] common_nature
Yesterday I got to see a tiny shrew very close-up and it was very exciting.

So I was sitting on a muddy path in a wooded area because of reasons (ok, exhausted after climbing) when I saw movement and a tiny thing scurrying past me. I figured that glimpse was all I'd see, but I turned round to see where it'd gone and it was on the path on the other side of me, and with great caution so as not to startle it I managed to dig my phone out of my coat pocket:

longshot in which a tiny shrew may be visible among rocks and moss

(There's nothing to give a sense of scale, but the shrew is a few centimetres long. It makes mice look big.)

THEN --

Cut for blurry close-ups and blurry worm death )
Jul. 21st, 2017 10:16 pm

Thrifting

jamie: John Sheppard caption: all work and no porn make shep a sad boy (john - all work)
[personal profile] jamie
Found a Travelsmith jacket is my meandering today. I've been visiting my regular haunts before I move away. T'was a nice bonus.

4 sleeps left.

Stargate Origins, a webisode series? Hmm.
Jul. 21st, 2017 04:26 pm

The Randomiser: The Myth Makers

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[personal profile] purplecat
I wasn't really sure what to expect from The Myth Makers going into it. I have a fairly low tolerance threshold for so-so comedy and, while it has a good reputation, it is also Doctor Who attempting comedy in the 1960s and I had not been overly impressed by The Romans.

Actually it is surprisingly good )

I would genuinely love to see what The Myth Makers actually looked like. Doctor Who so rarely whole-heartedly tries to do comedy and this has some great dialogue and comic moments. I would have liked to see the actors faces as the lines were delivered. Watching telesnap reconstructions of old Doctor Who is definitely a fans-only past time, but if you feel up to the effort then I would say that The Myth Makers is more rewarding than many.
Jul. 21st, 2017 09:04 am

Vaults of Vyzor session 9

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Posted by Jeff Rients

Dale the Valet

Roster

Brutal Pete, dwarf (Aleksandr Revzin)
Young John (0-level hireling)
Jarrod, LotFP magic-user (Ian Reilly)
Sigismund von Flegelschnecke, gnome fighter/illusionist (Alexei McDonald)
Gary Oldman Badger (pet badger)
Barnabus Sleet, muscle wizard (Maxime Golubchik)
Dale the Valet (0-level henchman)



So the explorations of the first level of the Verdant Vault continued today.  A large metal urn full of gold and silver coins was brought out of the dungeons--as well as the Underworld Wrestling Federation championship belt--but at the cost of the life of Jarrod the Magic-User.  A lot of carousing followed, so here's the drunken, slurred gist of what happened.

The party got by the Bargain Wolves with a bag of juicy steaks.  They then proceeded through the secret door down to the room with the orcish crossbow trap on the door.  Barnabus Sleet did not expect the orcs to replace the crossbow from last time and was nearly shot for a second time by the same trap in as many visits to the Vaults.  The group then examined the small room with the strange waterfall effect (marked with a small black dot on the map), where the magic-users concluded this place was designed for meditation and rapid recharge of MU spells.

The group then mapped out several new halls and chambers that don't quite line up with previous maps.  Sometimes I make mistakes when describing areas, sometimes I miss errors in maps, and sometimes I see a 10' mistake and don't say anything.  No PC map is going to be perfect, given the conditions under which they are made.  But as a rule I never intentionally mis-describe an area.  I just don't always correct small deviations.

The first new room with anything interesting is marked on the map as "Undead Inside."  It contains a half dozen or so shriveled inhuman corpses sleeping the nightmare sleep of the undead.  The party disturbed one of the corpses, which animated.  They hustled out and spiked it shut.


Gnome-amania runs wild!
The party discovers the large balcony overlooking a huge chamber on the second level where they see Gnome Hogan about to defend the Underworld Heavyweight Championship against the Macho Gnome, in front of a group of a couple hundred hooting and hollering gnomish rasslin' fans.  Barnabus decides that he MUST own the gold championship belt and inserts himself into the match.  Between a combination of acrobatics, chicanery, lucky rolls, and a timely illusionist spell from Sigismund, they escape the crowd with the big gold belt.  The belt turns out to be the single biggest item of treasure found this delve.  Later, Barnabus borrows money from the local Thieves Guild in order to pay off the other surviving party member's share of its worth.


The room with the pentacle contains the classic demon-summoning sigil, with an orc skull sitting at four of the five points of the star.  The last point was empty.  The group decides they need a fifth orc skull.  They head over to the section of the dungeon where the orcs are known to be found and kick in a previously-unexplored door, to find 2 orcs playing orchess.  

Unfortunately for the party, these two orcs are 3 and 5 hit die badasses respectively.  Barnabus puts the sleep spell on one of them, but the party only barely defeats the other one, Gary Oldman Badger disemboweling him with a natural 20 claw attack.  This is where they find the metal urn full of treaure, but it also contains a scorpion that stings Jarrod, who writhes in agony for a few rounds as the party tries to save him, but he eventually dies.  His last words were "Put my skull on the fifth point of the pentagram."  Even in death LotFP wizards are messed up guys.

They head back over to the pentagram room and put Jarrod's decapitated head on the fifth point.  Black smoke coalesces into an orc-demon.  Imagine a naked orc that's been tarred and feathered.  Give him two stunty crow's wings on his back and hideously long talons at the end of his fingers.  That's what the guy looks like.  Once this dude realizes the fifth skull isn't an orc's skull, he goes after the nearest PC, Barnabus, and slashes four vertical claw lines neatly down his face.  The party flees, spiking the door closed with as many spikes as they can.  They get the hell out of the dungeon.

The party goes carousing and Sigismund ends up with a majestic full back tattoo of the orc-demon done in ukiyo-e style.  Demon tattoos are all the rage right now, it seems.  Brutal Pete levels up and becomes one of those crazy mohawk dwarves, thanks to this table.  So between Pete's mohawk, Sigismund's tattoo, and Barnabus Sleet's wicked facial scars, these guys look pretty badass now.


Borrowing from the Thieves Guild Rule
If you are in Vyzor, you can borrow funds from the Thieves Guild to cover local expenses of your level x 1,000gp or less.  A common usage of this is to go carousing, but you need at least 100gp in pocket money to start carousing, you can borrow any additional funds you need.  I.e. you can't tell the mob you're going to drink their gold away.  First you get drunk, then you make up a legit use for the funds.

You have until the end of your next session in Vyzor to pay back the loan shark at no penalty.  If you don't the amount owed doubles the next time you are in Vyzor.  This becomes time three the next session, times four after that, etc.  Also, mob enforcers may come after you, at the DM's discretion.  Paying at least 10% of what you owe at the beginning of the session will keep the muscle off of you that run.  You cannot borrow from the thieves guild a second time until you have paid off the old loan.

ONGOING ROLL OF THE DEAD

Jarrod the Magic-User (Ian Reilly)
Jonesy (0-level NPC)
Little Liam Linkboy (0-level NPC)
Limpy the Naileteer (Jeff Call)
Engsal the Enchanter (Alex Joneth)
Elfbraham Lincoln (Jeff Call)
Littlens (0-level NPC)
Biggens (0-level NPC)
Stimpy (0-level NPC)
Ren (0-level NPC)
Jul. 21st, 2017 08:13 am

(no subject)

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[personal profile] cesy
More things I have learnt from physio - mainly notes to self. I suspect [personal profile] hagar_972 and [personal profile] taennyn may have useful experience here, where I'm just starting out on the same journey they've already been on.

Muscles in the thigh - VMO, lateralis, the big quad one, the sartorius one across, adductors on the inside, abductors on the outside. VMO needs extra strengthening due to hypermobility. The small stabilising muscles tend to give up, then the big muscles compensate, and that's why my hamstrings get tight all the time. Then the hip/bum ones like glute max and glute mede also need help, particularly the latter.

Making sure things activate in the right order is hard. If the lateralis activates before the VMO instead of at the same time, then my kneecap slides sideways and that's one of the reasons it hurts. Trying to activate the VMO first will retrain it so they both go at the same time.
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Jul. 20th, 2017 10:54 pm

Very little of note

jamie: Enjoy life, there's plenty of time to be dead (Enjoy life)
[personal profile] jamie
Started a few fights on fb. Always fun.

B ordered and/or bought all the Funko SDCC exclusive pops that she wanted so that's done too. One of the required a 90 minute drive each way but it was entertaining so I didn't mind. Not sure what she's going to do next year.

Went through my many small boxes of family photos looking for what stuff I have from one side of the family. End result? 11 boxes of photos of the paternal side, 1/2 a box from the maternal side. Thing is, until my generation both side of the family were at about the same socio-economic level. One of them was just way more into taking pictures than the other as far as I can tell. And it held true through mine and family vacations. We just didn't take pictures when we were with them in comparison to the dozens we did on the other side. It's so odd.

Saw a picture of my maternal grandmother as a young woman for the very first time this morning, sent to me digitally by a second cousin (I love the future). It's a little tough to tell from the photo but she can't be older than 30 in it which is much younger than the age 60ish photo I'd seen a long time ago. We apparently looked a lot alike and this photo does show that family resemblance rather strongly.

5 sleeps left.
Jul. 20th, 2017 06:42 pm

I'm calling it the Evans Method

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Posted by Jeff Rients

So check out these sweet maps:

(click to embiggen)
These babies appeared in various D&D kiddie products.  The one on the left appears in my D&D cartoon boxed set.  I think they are pretty rad.  A bunch of these places appear in the cartoon series, but some of them do not.

So here's the thing: not everyone needs a big numbered hexmap to have a wilderness campaign.  Strange, I know, but true.  The Conan stories didn't need no stinkin' hexmaps.  One story the big Cimmerian lug is getting his sandaled feet into trouble in Aquilonia, the next he's squooshing through the muddy swamps of Pictland.

Mike Evans shows us one way to make this sort of thing work in his kick awesome campaign book Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure.  In Hubris, each major region gets about 10 pages detailed this way:
  • A few short paragraphs giving the basics of the region.
  • A d100 "Lay of the Land" chart providing thumbnail sketches of locations in the region.
  • A d100 encounter chart for the region
  • One or more brief write-ups for special locations, with rumors/adventure hooks
  • Some extra thing unique to the region, like rules for eating the mushrooms of the Bogwood Swamp
My favorite part is the Lay of the Land charts.  You know someone is from the region in general, but where specifically?  Just roll d100.  The caravan is stopping where next?  Throw them percentiles.  Where did that jerk hide the MacGuffin?  You get the idea.  Obviously much loosey-goosier than a hexmap, but it ought to be a sufficient level of detail for some styles of play.

You could even scale the Evans Method down to a sentence or two of basic descriptions, two d6 charts, one adventure hook and one unique thing.  I bet that would even fit on a One Page type template.

Anyway, those maps above?  Prime candidates for the Evans Method.

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