Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Death Is A Plot Hook

Death is good.

Some people are like "OMG someone died! How could the game possibly go on! What a bummer for everyone." and some are like "So what, somebody died, roll somebody new and move on."

At least for my own personal D&D games, I disagree with both of them.

Death is good. Death is a great opportunity to give a campaign some real (as opposed to suspension-of-disbelief-based) drama.

Here's how:

Why don't players like it when their PCs die? Because they identify too closely with them? Maybe, but it's more this, I think: They put a lot of effort into imagining and--often--levelling up a character and now it's gone.

And what's a character? It's essentially, a decision to play the game in a certain way, or move toward playing in a certain way. If your first-level barbarian dies, you aren't gonna be Conan anytime soon. First level pirate dies, and you're that far from getting to play as King of the High Seas.

In other words, when your character dies, you are actually, really being barred--at least for a few weeks--from playing the game the way you planned, so now you have to play a different way. And since high-level play is, in a sense, a different game, it's like you're being prevented from playing a certain game for a while.

And you like the game. And you like playing your way. So when you are told you can't, this is genuine privation. Not imaginary. You didn't make it as a pitcher, son, try right field. You can't play guitar, try drums for a while...

This is your real life: playing a game. This is a real consequence: you can't roll like that any more. Or, if you want to, you'll have to start over from scratch.

So, in my games, I like to make use of this rare moment of genuine (if low-level) emotion. Characters should be threatened with death. And if they die, it should matter in the game. And maybe the next thing happens in the game has to do with it.

I prefer the best of both worlds: characters die a lot, and it hurts every time. Drama drama drama.

PC death is a plot hook. Shakespeare knew it.

Shooting today, after the show I'll mail out all the remaining Secret Arneson Gift Exchange requests and then I'm done, so if you got one, e-mail me before midnight Pacific Time. After that, it's outta my hands and we get to see what y'all come up with on Gary's birthday. Though maybe send me a link so I can show people.

Monday, June 28, 2010


This is a special notice for everybody participating in the Secret Arneson Gift Exchange (I'd e-mail you but this is easier--long story.)

-Deadline to submit requests is in 2 days.

-Deadline to finish and publish or send your response is July 27th.

-I sent out a lot of the requests today--if you got something you technically can't do (i.e., asks for stats for a kind of D&D you don't know, etc.), please send it back .

-If you "speak" 4e or 3.5 fluently and would be willing to switch out your request for a 4e or 3.5-specific request if one gets orphaned, write to me and let me know.

-Also, I wrote to a few people who said they'd be willing to do artwork because I have a couple requests for artwork--if you want to trade the request you got for an art request, lemme know.

So, Wait, You Play D&D? Like, '80's D&D?

So you're eating a sandwich?


Wouldn't you rather be eating a vegan tuna-melt wrap on a gluten-free buckwheat tortilla?


But don't you find that the texture of the salami on that sandwich inevitably leads to indigestion, fatigue, nervousness and decay of the fine motor functions?


Well I've been eating food for 35 years now and I can tell you that it did in my case, that's why I switched to vegan tuna-melt wrap on gluten-free buckwheat tortillas and now I never have that problem!

Ok. I'll keep that in mind if I'm ever you.

It's because the gluten-free buckwheat tortillas are made with genuine unprocessed tapioca! Do you see the innovativeness of it?


Do you not feel that if you wanted to be a better, smarter, more mature person, you, too, would suffer a great many ill-effects from that sandwich and prefer my spectacular wrap?


You know that the guy who invented sandwiches is dead right?


Don't you think that continuing to eat that sandwich indicates you are less mature, evolved, avant-garde, intelligent, and forward-thinking in your lunch choices than I?


Why must you look upon my wrap with contempt?

I don't, go ahead and eat your wrap.

Do you think the fact that you despise my wrap proves your innate superiority? Because let me tell you now, buster, it most certainly does not!


Why do you let your girlfriend eat sandwiches? Does she not know any better?


Why must you molest me with your atavism? Do you not see that my wrap is a wrap finely-honed and forged through decades of lunch-design-evolution and therefore is, ipso facto, the finest possible of finger foods?

You seem very happy together.


Yeah, champ, good going there. Enjoy that lunch you got.

Would you like to try my wrap?

Sorry, I don't like tuna.

Oh, but this is not just ANY tuna, it is tuna in a WRAP!!!!! Do you not see the glorious, all-applicability, all-lunches-to-all-people appeal of placing the tuna in a wrap? Never will you have to deal with the inconveniences caused by, say, the squeezing-the-protein-out-the-backside-of-your-lunch-effect, or STPOTBOYLE as it is known on the Internet!


Do you not yearn for the worlds of lunchtime pleasure you are denying yourself?

Actually, I really like this sandwich...

Why won't you grow up, spread your wings, fly to new heights?!!!

Well, actually, I was gonna go make some money at my job and then drink with my friends and then have sex with ladies, I just figured, y'know, I'd have lunch first and I like salami so...

You are hopeless! I mock you! I will find a like-minded group of people who appreciates vegan tuna-melt wrap on gluten-free buckwheat tortillas! We will conquer you! You will see! Soon your outmoded neanderthal lunch-eating will be exposed for the fraudulent decadence it is! Lotta Continua!

Uh, ok.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Thought You Said You Cleaned This Place

One of my players has decided to return to a dungeon she thought she was done with months ago. I'm figuring out what's happened since she left, plus what's behind all those doors she never checked. It's really fun--it's like writing an alternate-universe dungeon that hides behind the original dungeon. Ever done that?

My favorite kind of encounters aren't all surprises--they're the ones where the PCs know what they're getting into (mostly) and you get to watch them scheme before taking the plunge. Re-doing a dungeon over a few levels later gives you plenty of chances for exactly that.

In other news, here's some recent things on the D&D internet I like:

-Hireling generator (via Grognardia). I'd use this if I could ever get used to having a laptop right there at the table.

-This "make combat suddenly more dramatic" idea from Monsters and Manuals. In general, I like options where players can voluntarily up the ante at any time. Plus anything involving d100 options always = rock.

-Swords and Dorkery found an interesting artist I've never heard of before.


Also, remember the Secret Arneson Gift Exchange deadline is a scant 3 days away--send 'em if you got 'em.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Like, Seriously No Dignity In Death

The most humiliating way to die?

How about: Being turned into a pig, then sodomized with a unicorn horn, then eaten. By your friends.

Maybe it's not the most humiliating possible death, but it's seriously the fuck up there.

I am not going to blog it up now, because it happens in the filmed campaign, so you'll get to see it around about October.

But, so, anyway--if you're ever watching "Axe" and wondering "Where is all this going?" It is going to a PC being turned into a pig, then sodomized with a unicorn horn, then eaten.

And none of it was my idea.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rules About Dying

This video has been up like three minutes and already there's stuff about how I'm "killing" the players. Seriously? There was an ambush, they saw it, they decided to go ahead and run into it. The dice made all the decisions from there. In D&D, death comes to those who don't make a concerted effort to avoid it. This does not have to be explained to anybody who reads this blog.

Click here to see bigger.

Death rules recap:

-If you take more hit points than you have, you're considered to be at 0 h.p. and are unconscious unless you were hurt by something that would obviously kill you instantly (falling boulder, death spell, etc.).

-At 0 h.p. you're unconscious but will pop right back up if healed. However, if you go unhealed for an hour, you must roll under your constitution or lose d6 more hit points. At negative your constitution, you're dead.

-Unconscious characters can usually be killed at will by any old schmuck who has a free round on his hands and has no interest in ransoming, interrogating, prisoner-trading, or eating the PCs fresh.

Nobody's quite dead by the end of the video, but half the party's unconscious. And they are surrounded.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When To End The Day + Fight On! + SAGE

Game tomorrow. Televised.

We are, as it were, between dungeons.

Here's what I think: in general, try to end a session right after the PCs have told you where they're going next, rather than right before.

Didn't have time to do that last game.

Most of the players just finished saving some nuns.

One player is off trying to solve the skeleton plague.

One player will show up and be totally new.

And it's a sandbox, of course, so they can (and should) go wherever they feel like going.

So: I have to prepare for anywhere they could possibly go. I like prepping, since I think up the most elaborate stuff when I prepare and I am hopelessly enamored of elaborate stuff.

I figure there's about 6 likely locations the PCs could decide to hit. About half are full of NPCs I know well enough and I basically know what sort of things should be going o there, given current campaign events.

The other half are all sketchily described and I have a basic "vibe" figured for each as well as enough to keep everyone busy for an hour or two.

But then there's always that feeling that there could just be a little more. Every time I think of a trick or a trap or a schtick, or try to, I think "Oh but chances are I won't even get to use this bit, why bother. I have real life things to do."

I feel like Oscar Schindler--"Oh but I could've just..."

Here's my plan: go minigolfing with KK, Viv and Mandy, and think on it. If I think of anything good, I'll throw it in there. If not, wing that second half.

Hey look at that--new Fight On! (Including a lot of monster write-ups by me, and, apparently, some picture(s) by me, which I had no idea about).

And over here there's special deals on back issues and there's two new hardbound collections of issues 1-4 and 5-8.

In other housecleaning: the deadline for the Secret Arneson Gift Exchange is about a week away. If you want a Secret Arneson to write something for your campaign, let me know BEFORE JULY 1.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chgowiz, Maze, Minis, Pigs etc.

-First off, RPG blogger Chgowiz is back. This is excellent news if you happen to be a smart person who likes reading about how other smart people play the games that you play.*

His focus has always been on how the game actually works when it's right there in front of you and on getting new people to play. Of which focus this blog mightily approves.

-Y'know how, when someone casts a Maze spell, the victim has to wander in it "for a period of time entirely determined by the creature's intelligence". Well how about some of that "player skill not character skill"? Go here and make a maze to have on hand.

It also works as a cheap dungeon plan generator, if you're having one of those hungover-didn't-prep days.

-I said I was going to write a paean to Shannon, the mini-painter Reaper assigned to "I Hit It With My Axe" as soon as I was able to take a decent picture of the minis she painted? Well here's my best attempt so far:

-Goblin Pigballoon Scout info:
(As Seen On TV)
The pig balloon is generally made by a goblin alchemist. The actual process involves removing the organs and bones, coating the pig with a glossy sealant (often of a gaudy color), and sewing the pig's mouth (and other orifices) shut after filling it with a lighter-than-air substance.

An average pig scout balloon can carry one goblin or one halfling plus 20 gp's weight. Altitude control is not good. The scout is usually armed with vials of standard green slime. Any failed missile attack on the balloon will have a 50% chance of hitting the pig, which will cause the balloon to descend rapidly and comically.

The scout's d20 stats are below, if you're using the old system that's AC 6.

Larger balloons made from giant frogs, giant puffer fish, and even whales have been conjectured but have never been observed.

*If you're wondering why Chgowiz ever left in the first place, it's because he was sick of internet drama. Those specifically and desperately interested in seeing the last straw (plus some poorly fact-checked guesses about what system my group uses) can look here. It's all over now, though, so if you have some brilliant opinion about it, bear in mind that no-one cares anymore.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Love This Book

Troll and Toad sent me one of my all-time favorite RPG supplements today--Rifts: Atlantis.

From a distance (a distance I definitely did not have as a kid) the main villains in this setting, the Splugorth, are a sort of comic bookifiyed version of Lovecraftian Old Ones and their island empire is a collage of every 50-year-old science fiction idea that could be easily militarized--plus mounds of lasers and eyeballs.

The kicker for me in Rifts Atlantis, though, was the occasional inclusion of the unbelievably stylish technogrotesque artwork of Newton Ewell (a sample of which graces the top of the page there). Science fiction rpgs--being based on new ideas rather than traditional ones--need illustrations in a way that fantasy rpgs don't. And Ewell's pictures described a world exquisitely. Here technology and machinery are more fantastic than magic and dazzlingly baroque. (And this was before the anime-explosion on this side of the Pacific made this kind of thing familiar.)

The whole of Atlantis had an exuberant weirdness that seemed to take the basic Rifts ideas to their natural conclusion. The default Rifts setting was a sort of post-apocalypse with people in cities and towns (and, of course, monsters everywhere else)--not unlike D&D.

Rifts Atlantis, though, was a society of monsters. And not just Star Trek-mostly-human-with-a-few-cosmetic-changes-monsters. They were truly and gruesomely inhuman--an idea that's common enough in literary sci-fi, but surprisingly unusual outside of it.

It was awesome: the technology was made of monsters, the government was monsters, the transportation was monsters, the weapons were monsters, the monsters had weapons these weapons were made of monsters and they shot monsters. It was the whole Lovercraft-humanity-is-not-the-philosophical-center-of-reality-thing done completely goofy and all wrong. And it demanded maximum creativity--everything had to be weird. Everything was arcane or had missiles or had arcane missiles. If you were going to put a post-office box in Atlantis it would have to be weird--the metal would be made from the psychic energy harvested from dying warsnails and the stamps would be glued on with squidblood. There are Eyes of Eyelor, there's a playable PC race that's a foot long psychic slug, there are the blind warrior women being licked by lizard slavers, and it all just seemed perfectly held together by the drawings.

That was always the thing about Rifts--on paper, the the game seemed like a bad late Burroughs novel footnoted with endless lists of military hardware. But then there were the pictures--good or bad, they they were so solid, they made sense--I'd look at them and go "ok, yeah, I see it" and then it all came together and I wanted to go there immediately.

In color up there, there's the Ketih Parkinson painting of the Splugorth slaver. I'm not a big Parkinson fan, usually, and I don't love the painting, yet, somehow he manages to evoke every single pulp sci-fi novel cover you ever picked up in the 99-cent bin and went "What the holy fuck could this possibly be about? I have to buy it."

Except because Rifts is a game and not a book, the picture, of course, turns out to be about whatever you think that picture is about. Which, face it, is way better than that 99 cent novel was ever gonna be.

Nowadays there's a million high-concept RPGs with (probably) fascinating post-Alan Moore, post-anime premises, but whenever I see them, I seriously go "Ok, but you could've just done that with Rifts, right?"

(Oh, I can hear it now: whine whine whine about Palladium's mechanics. Read that and fuck off.)

D&D originally provided a little of everything--genies, leprechauns, rakshashas--whatever. I generally think of every new setting for D&D (or every new fantasy setting-plus-ruleset--that is, every new fantasy game) as a narrowing of the list of possibilities implied in D&D. Only snow-monsters, only-pre-iron-age weapons, only wizard stuff, etc. etc.

Likewise, I feel like every time somebody tries to re-do the postmodern sci-fantasy RPG I just think: ok, this is like Rifts, but with less stuff.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Get To Dip My Donut In Dr. Pepper Because I Am The DM

Notes On This Week's Show That Have to Do With DMing:

-That map is just a small sketch I made of the area between the Goblin City and Vornheim so that the party could plan their route back. There are two river crossings on the map and an unknown number of river crossings not on the map. There was actually a lot (a lot) more discussion about which way to proceed than what made it into the episode, with Connie, Frankie and Satine wanting to go to The Place of Skulls (because of the name, nobody knows what's actually in The Place of Skulls), Mandy arguing for caution no matter which way they went, and Justine and KK pretty much waiting for the discussion to end so they could fight things.

-I had stuff prepared for both crossings on the map plus several other points nearby plus I had prepared for if they just decided to stay in the Goblin City or if they just headed randomly off west or east and said fuck the mission altogether. I realized after I had written all this material that every location involved pigs, warthogs, or groundhogs in one way or another.

Notes On This Week's Show That Don't Have Anything To Do With DMing:

-I stuck in a title card at the beginning of the show to explain all the things about the show that everybody who reads this blog already knows. When I watch the episode it wasn't up long enough for me to read it. I don't know whether that's a glitch or not. Either way there's nothing there you don't already know: We play D&D, we have for a long time, it's a d20/ad&d hybrid yadda yadda.

-Mandy got that all-seeing map during this adventure.

-Yup the episode is short. Some will be short, some will be long--that's the way it works.

-My Liverpool accent was well-received by actual British people which is surprising since usually I feel like you can never do a foreign accent well enough to please people actually from that place. That's nice.

-Astute viewers may have noticed that the beetles were red when the goblins were riding on them but now are suddenly green. It's a long story, but basically I painted the original beetles and Shannon at Reaper painted the second set and I liked it so I left it.

(Shannon/Qpenguin is one of the secret heroes of I Hit It With My Axe and I keep meaning to do a blog entry where I praise her to high heaven and talk about her marvelous paint jobs and the way she delivers requests for preposterous conversions with time to spare but I feel like that blog entry would need to have awesome photos of the minis to accompany it and I keep not being able to take those awesome photos--at some point I'm gonna have to sit down and do that.)

-Some people have asked why we switched sets--gold star for you if you realized that we didn't and we just turned the table a different way and shot from a different angle.

-Incidentally, the reason everybody always sits in the same place pretty much has to do with how close they need to be to the microphone. Mandy and Connie have the quietest voices so they have to sit the closest.

Click here to see bigger.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Back in LA after several weeks on the road, wherein I did many things one might expect the proprietor of something called D&D With Porn Stars to do.

Dice I was tempted to buy, but did not, on this trip:

-A pair of pre-Revolutionary War George III-stamped dice at the Medina Antique Mall, (discussed previously).

-A pair of trick d6s that always roll the same number, packaged along with another real pair done in exactly the same size and color at a 99 cent store.

-A replica of that ancient roman die (d6? d20? can't remember) they found that has esoteric symbols instead of numbers.

In unrelated dice news, the pictures here are some dice from my favorite exhibit at LA's Museum of Jurassic Technology--some "decaying" dice from the collection of magician Ricky Jay.

If anybody's looking to start a gameblog, there's your header image.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Unicorn Brainstorm

What to do with a unicorn?

Riding unicorns is preposterous. Seriously, it always feels like a dumb idea--the image of it. Its overkill--you have a sword and your horse has a horn? What the fuck? The unicorn needs to be its own thing. Maybe Satan could ride a unicorn, that's it--maybe.

The-unicorn-is-secretly-someone-else. Ok, who?

-Someone good? Seems boring. If the unicorn is someone good then they're basically the same as they were only a unicorn--they "mean" the same thing either way, and act the same. But then maybe if the unicorn acts like an animal then maybe once you get the unicorn you have to let it go because it's secretly someone good. That's tragic. Though in D&D, seriously, who gives a fuck about some NPC? Plus what's the point of the pre-transformation unicorn-having part of the story--to temporarily have a magic horse to play with? Lame. It's the idea of the unicorn that's interesting, not the mechanical possibilities.

-Someone useful? Ok but then so either the unicorn is a unicorn--which is interesting, or is themself--which is interesting. But they're pretty much separate things that aren't better together. Unless it's a wereunicorn. Man, what a dumb idea. Next!

-Someone evil? Obviously this has merit. Then the question is whether the unicorn acts evil or just is a dumb animal. And, etiher way, there needs to be some threat of the evil person becoming a non-unicorn any minute.

The esoteric unicorn--it's like some sort of spectral 2D-seeming unicorn that sort of crosses your field of vision like it comes out of one side of a tree. Like a sort of heraldic image of a unicorn come to life. You could do a whole creepy sort of playing-card Camelot thing with weird stiff symbolic chivalrous types moving around and being inscrutable. Ok.

Victim Unicorn. You can be sure the bad guys are bad because they're fucking up a fucking unicorn. That's even worse than cutting down the magic pixie forest. The best bet here would appear to be to cruelly objectify the unicorn like in some Mackinnon/Dworkin wet dream (or would that be dry dream?) and just have the bad guys be fucking it all up and the beast itself has no agency at all.

In effect, the unicorn is, in this case, just a ground upon which the badguys can display their badness. Thinking up exotic badnesses to have them practice upon it is the hard part.

Unicorn-as-ingredient. The unicorn contains something of value, or something which will cause trouble if left uncollected. The unicorn can either be a victim (as above) in need of rescue or can be just out there and the PCs have to get it--in which case it gets to act like a regular monster (finally) and fight back.

Mutant unicorn. Like for example that creepy RuneQuest unicorn-head guy, or some sort of deformed abomination. Pretty much writes itself, since the creepiness and corruption is automatically embedded in the concept.

Important unicorns--like, unique ones which are exalted and meaningful to some group of people or citystate or reigion--are annoying. Ok, maybe not if it isn't obvious where they are. But having one just in the middle of town like "hey this is our unicorn", I hate that. Some random unicorn in a forest somewhere that you can't kill because it will make all the children of Grophyndoria grow a second head that will bite their first head, that's ok. Important but obscure is the point, I guess. Not a fucking mascot.

And if it glows or something, fuck it.

Trapper-Keeper Unicorn
. So, it's like pink and sparkly and frolics. I sometimes think it'd be fun to have some acid-trip adventure where the girls have to fight some deluded princess in her horrible sparkly pink kingdom with kitten warriors on unicorns and clouds that cry rain on you. Not today, though.

Talking unicorns
suck. What are they going to say? Anything a unicorn has to say is too funny. Can't do it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Well That's Sweet

Hey girls, got this in the mail:

I really enjoy "I Hit it with My Axe." From one nerdy girl to all of them, thank you so much for making me feel normal! It's wonderful to see other girls playing and enjoying the same game I do in the same manner I do (full of random misadventures and shenanigans). I could care less about what everyone does for a living, although it does make the whole situation funnier; I'm just glad to have a bit a of badass chick power on the internet now.

I love it when people get the point.

The Bottom-Left Corner of the Map

Here's a brief summary of what happened during our most recent session: the girls returned to the city, resolved some dangling threads, asked many questions of many NPCs, were offered dozens of plot-hooks and juicy possible goals, and decided to leave the city in the direction of none of them.*

There was a great debate between the girls about which way to go, but in the end, simple wanderlust won out.

They had NPCs saying "Arrrr, to the This Direction there be This Thing!" and "Oh, if it be ____ ye seek, then to ____ ye should go!" and "If nothing is done about____ then a horrific _____ may indeed befall us all!" and they basically went, Ok, well we know what's going to happen in all those cases, so let's do something else entirely.

Despite the fact that it means I've just written a bunch of D&D material to go in all those directions that may never get used, I'm very happy, since it displays a touching faith in the creative powers of their DM. Oh, of course there's something over in this empty corner of the map between Vornheim and Osc Lithicum.

So now I have to figure out what's there. Using absolutely none of the ideas I've already dangled.

Anybody wanna buy some plot hooks?

And no, I will not just re-skin all those ideas and move them around the map. Then what'd be the point of the party choosing not to do them?

*This was one of our filmed sessions, so if you truly crave more detail, you'll be able to see it in about a month.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Paying Off The Enemy, Keeping Your Crossbow Loaded, Macaroni & Cheese, etc.

D&D Issues Raised In Today's 'Axe' Episode:

-Paying off the goblins.

Interesting, no? Especially coming from our barbarian. Kimberly's idea of paying off the soldiers with their own king's loot has merit, but it's shoved aside without comment once Satine has her toss-the-medusa-in-the-air idea.

There is much to be studied concerning the art of decision-making in D&D. Sometimes people give up on their own ideas as soon as everyone gets excited about something else, sometimes they don't and everybody argues. No big deal.

The big deal comes, I think, later, when everyone's half-paralyzed or their knees have been turned to goo, and the person with the ignored idea then is like "Hey, I had a different idea but nobody listened" and everybody else is like "Well why'd you drop it?" and the first person's like "Well you guys got all excited about that other idea!"
"Well you should've fought for it!"
"Well it's not my job to make sure y'all listen to me!"
That argument has no ending. In practice or theory.

-"Can my crossbow always be loaded?"

During the credits I explain about how you wanna unload your crossbow before doing dangerous things. Got this in my inbox this morning:

Another reason (aside from misfires) that people didn't keep their crossbows loaded is that over time it weakens the crossbow. If you keep the steel in a tensed position, it gradually bends to that position, the string stretches, and so on. So when you pull the trigger.... it doesn't spring back. Or rather, not half so strongly as it did before. A crossbow kept tensed becomes a weak crossbow.

To which I responded:

clearly. but we can presume Frankie re-strings her crossbow every night and spends all her petty cash on new strings.

(See it bigger here.)

Other notes:

-Who's the girl on the calendar in the background?

Darenzia. Friend of ours. Possible future guest star.

-A macaroni & cheese note.

Mandy's sister watched this and I discovered something I did not know about Mandy's sister: macaroni and cheese disgusts her so much that she can't even bear to look at it. She can't even say the words "macaroni & cheese".


Connie sounds tired? She is. It had been a long day even before shooting started. Hey, realism.

-Ominous note:

Note--Satine is knocked unconscious, Mandy heals her, Connie's knocked unconscious, Mandy heals her, Mandy also summons two monsters. That leaves her with not a lot of spells. And they are still on the run from the goblin army.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Some As-Yet Unused Names

Grendzel Heuzengork

Orgun Ash


Orchard Underr


Vasken Einen

Klaw Veert

Unvelt Umwelt

Korgen Kroner


Ungrall Unwern

Hirgen The Fondler


Gundlee Oaken

Ash Pearl


Veinheim Le Guin

Hoarden The Other Seer

Costly Greasegraft

Usher Croon

Addendum: just thought of something--a naming system whereby the last name of the parent becomes the first name of the child. Thus Ursken Aller could have kids named Aller Grinder and Aller Hindenhorst and they, in turn, could have kids named Grinder Chork and Hindenhorst Chokefast, respectively.

Family names would be nonexistent, but tracing genealogies would be easy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Je Ne Detruis Pas Le Bugbear

Ok, in my post yesterday I suggested D&D would be an ideal tool for learning new languages. I'm going to try it...

I'll DM myself. We'll go on the "if you can say it, you can do it" rule...

DM: Ok, who are you?

Z: Je suis un...(Fuck. All I know is "rogue"--I'm assuming the word "rogue" is French--and wizard--"Sorciere". But then, if I'm male is it "sorcier"? In order to make it easy on myself I'll be female...)...Je suis une sorciere. Aussi, je suis...(I can't say "elf" or "dwarf" in French. I think "human" is "humaine". Or I could do "un demi-orc" but that's kind of cheating.)...Je suis une humaine avec une (Level? How do you say "level"?)...non, je suis un nouveau caractere. Je m'apelle Contessa Allegra Bardot.

("I am a wizard. Also, I am human. I am a new character. My name is..." Jesus, I sound like Sesame Street.)

DM: Ok, there's a bugbear, what do you do?

Z: Je...("Cast"? Don't know "cast". I "hit"? Don't know "hit". Detruis or something like that is destroy, but then if I go "I destroy the bugbear"--let's leave aside the fact that I don't know if I can say "le bugbear"--then the DM would go "With what?". Fuck. "Avec une langouste"?--"with a spiny lobster", but:

1-Why would I have a lobster?

...and, perhaps more importantly...

2-How do you destroy a bugbear with a lobster?

With what, then? "Avec un epee" is with a sword, but that makes no sense since Je suis une sorciere. Fuck, if only I knew "fighter" I'd be home free. Fuck. Avec un...pamplemousse? Un parapluie? Un fromage? Great. A grapefruit, an umbrella, or a cheese. Why do I only know Monty Python French. Jesus. Hitting things seems like a wash, here...

I just remembered "level", it's "niveau", anyway...

"I run away"--Only I don't know how to say "run". Or "avoid" or "dodge". I think I can say "I go"--Je vais. Je vais au bibliotheque. "I go to the library.")

(I will now google the phrase.)

DM: Sorry, that should be "je vais a la bibliotheque" so you fail, plus, y'know, unless you say you're "running", then I assume normal land speed. Either way the bugbear hits you and since you are une sorciere avec seulement un niveau you are mort.

Z: Merde.

DM: Try again demain.

Ok, so I suppose what I would do now is go find a translation of Fafhrd And The Grey Mouser stories into Francais and try to read for a while then try again.

And thank god D&D is all present-tense.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Where In the World Is Gutboy Barrelhouse?

We all, I'm sure, have countless examples of how an interest in D&D helps you learn new, genuinely useful, things--or, at the very least, put otherwise useless knowledge to work. However, I'm wondering if anybody out there has stories of actually deciding to use D&D to learn or teach new real-world stuff.

I know, for instance, that this home-school kid I knew growing up wrote an ancient Egypt-based RPG in order to get a history "credit" from his mom.

I'm thinking it'd be fun to build a campaign with the intention of learning stuff, so...what do I want to learn now?

An obvious one is geography--for where I live or places I visit a lot. I'm not much into "New World" D&D, so in order to learn about the US I guess it'd have to be for a Rifts campaign or something, at least in my case. (Using US cities but changing all the names so they sound medieval seems to defeat the point.)

D&D teaches middle-school speed-math, obviously, and always has, so it's easy to imagine someone designing a D&D homebrew with the specific intention of teaching herself or her players more exotic math. I suppose one way would be to make the system as clunky and difficult as possible, with all sorts of pointless formulas you have to feed to get results, and derived stats you don't let yourself write down. Not that that's my idea of fun.

Languages? In school, this would've been perfect: The teacher DMs in Spanish. Everybody says their actions in Spanish. No dice at all--if you say what you're doing right, it works, if you make a mistake, it doesn't. Holy fuck. Holy fucking fuck. I just revolutionized language education. As the levels go up, the DM's grammar and vocabulary get more complicated. Jesus fuck. I could've learned Spanish.

As an adult, I'm thinking this is more complicated. Hire a tutor whose also a DM? Might as well just hire a tutor. Mandy's French is better than mine, now she just has to start DMing...

An easier way might be to integrate it into the spell-casting mechanics--some kind of "if you can say it in the next three seconds you can do it"--type dealy. Though, practically speaking, you'd have to be casting a lot of fucking spells per game in order for it to be useful as a learning tool. It'd have to be rigged so you could cast as many spells as you want as long as you could say them. It needs work, ok, but I think the idea has legs.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Completely Disorganized Notes On Episode 12

(Before I start: Anybody know any good game stores in Montreal besides Valet D'Couer where they might have old games?)(Anyway...)

What's down that tunnel? Yeah, of course, it would be way cool for it to be some whole new crazy thing down there, but this is a game. Things should make enough sense that the players can legibly plan a course of action or it's not a game, it's just a bunch of stuff I say hits you. So: you go back the way you came, you're going through the demolished homes of monsters you just killed.

So: angry spider-elves.

Where did Mandy get a flash bomb? It was a 2-part concoction: she found the first part looting a spider-elf with Sasha and the second part later in goblin palace. You tape something for 8 hours and cut it down to an hour of episodes and you leave a lot of stuff out.
Click here to see it full on.

I think I was perhaps less-than-patient with Frankie about backstab damage. But, to be fair:

1-She questioned my infinite wisdom.
2-It's more fun to go
"Roll d4."
"NOOOOOO! But..."
"Grumble grumble"
"Ok, now you roll d6 twice!"
"Really! WOW!"

That's Dirty Harry, if you're wondering.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Just Some Pictures

Dennis McGrath is my favorite behind-the-scenes-of-porn photographer. He took this picture of KK on the set of her movie, Morphine. He also took these, for us...

Here I explain that, yes, Satan does have stats in D&D.

Here, Frankie said something about kittens.

Here I'm checking off some dead goblins.

Now I am dunking my donut in Dr. Pepper.

Now a TIE fighter is landing on my back.

And this is our pig, Ping Pong Von Laserstein.