Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Of Patience and the Lack Thereof

-"Aaaaalright peeps, if you remember, your are in the ice maze, you are in a room in is forty wide it is thirty north south there is an exit to the north there is a door to the south, you came from the north, there is a statue, you got attacked earlier by an ice lamprey (eeew) there is a pool, in the pool is bluish water and some viking skeleton people, you were chased here by monkeys, what are we doing?"

I have a cup of coffee, because it is cold, and I have a cup of Dr Pepper because I am hopelessly dependent on it. I am alternating. I am also playing Schoenberg's Farben for its Ice Labyrinthy and rising mix of cinematic sublimity and teeth-putting-on-edge tinkiness.

My players are looking at each other. The veterans and the tenderfeet. Very quietly. What do we do?

Who is the leader?

Not the most intelligent, not the most experienced, not the one who remembers what's going on best, not even the most charismatic. Not the most anything.

The least patient.

-Local example:

If I (Lord Impatient Imperial Entirely) am DMing and not playing, then the impatience goes like this:

If Mandy has a plan, we're doing Mandy's plan.

If Mandy is absent or feeling too sick to have a plan, Connie does something impulsive from which the party is about to have to rescue her.*

If Connie is absent, Kimberly says "Well fine!" and then hits something. Or throws a switch. Or
solves the puzzle. She's is often a lot like "Ok, well if none of you people are going to step up then so I'm going to do something--as like punishment--and I'm sure it's the wrong thing to do and you'll all be sorry" and then she does it and it's the right thing. Is there a compound German word for that?

If none of them are around, it all becomes very strange. Unless like McCormick is around.

-If the patience equations aren't clear (and they become unclear around the mid-2os each month) you get exchanges like this:

"We go forward!"
"Forward is, regrettably, not a map direction"
"What? I gotta look at the map?...ok...." (shuffle grumble)
"It is indeed a terrible burden, I know"
(shuffle shuffle) "...ok, fine, we go East!"

-I have noticed when I play in G+ games I am real fucking impatient.

-I wonder what goes on in the mind of the patient player when nothing is going on: is it "Whatever, man, it's allllllll gooood" or "Fuck I'm bored but I'm too shy to say anything" or "Fuck I'm bored but I'm not confident enough to say anything and don't want to be the one responsible for killing us all" or "Man it's fun watching Mr Impatient over here tie himself in knots figuring which statue to kick..."

*I recall saying Connie never died last week. I remember now I was wrong, she died in a pit trap I'm remembering now. I think it was a gnome.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It Came From White Dwarf!

Random notes from lying in bed reading the World's Once Greatest Hobby Magazine...

-First, here's a half-finished dungeon using only pictures from White Dwarf 1-9 or pictures of (disturbing) minis that I tracked down from them being advertised in 1-9...
(Click to enlarge.)
(Note walktopus.)

-Magazines. Your blog--wait, statistically speaking, if you're reading this you don't have a blog. anyway, blogs--are magazines. Like this here you're reading is the opening editorial. Then over on the right there we have my departments. The only difference is: lots of things you can probably figure out without my help. Point is you can see all the brains that will be making the next generation of RPGs here in the magazine's bylines. Steve Jackson, Ian Livingstone, John Blanche...

-Quote I just got in the mail from A Certain Game Development Professional Who Reads D&DWPS:

Just read your follow-up to the pay thing. You are 100% right.

You could argue that the entire business history of D&D has been an ongoing, losing fight between a company trying to treat D&D like a publishing business and a fan base that wants to treat it like a hobby.


-Speaking of White Dwarfs, has anyone seen the new Ricky Gervais show with Warwick Davis? Is it any good?


-Judging from the reviews and ads, the number of kinda wargame/kinda boardgames (like Divine Right) from this era is staggering. I wonder if the current resurgence of this kind of game (Small World, Carcassone, etc.) coincides with the re-interest in old school D&D? I mean, I wonder enough to post on the internet about it, not enough to actually, y'know, do the research.

-White Dwarf #13 contains an Houri character class all about creepy what-lonely-'70s-GM-dreamed-this-up sex magic. In a game it would just go to terrible and tedious places, but it's actually a decent character idea for a story. Or a tentacle porn. Brian Asbury you were working in the wrong medium.

You could also profitably pull a spell like Kiss of Disfigurement off the houri list on a scroll to add optional hilariousness to an intrigue-heavy setting.

-Holy fuck! How much of the '70s does this explain:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Time To D.I.Y.

So what was that question all about?

It was about this...

Everybody who has vague dreams of making an RPG thing: it is time to publish your book.

No, not because it's National Game Design Month. (Though it is.)

Because I heard from the people you saw in the comments from yesterday and I heard, via email from a few more RPG professionals (including a couple heavies) and they all gave me basically the same numbers.

And here's the bottom line on those numbers...

Let's say, just hypothetically, my publisher--James Edward Raggi--decided to take all the money he still owes me plus all the projected future profits from the rest of the print run from my book, Vornheim, and go off to Tahiti to sit on the beach and spend his ill-gotten loot sipping mudslides and forcing homeless dwarfs to dance to Formulas Fatal To The Flesh for pennies and none of us ever heard from him again.

Even if he did that and I had only the money I already got for Vornheim, I would still have made more off of it than had I written a thing of equal length for any big publisher you care to mention. When the first printing sells out, Vornheim will have made as much money for me as a top-tier freelancer would've gotten for a gangbusters-selling book of equal length from WOTC or the Wolf at its height--and that's after splitting it with James.

You know how many copies Vornheim sold--in the scheme of things, compared to the regular not-RPG books I've been involved in? Compared to how WOTC books sell? Fuck all is how many. You know how many copies Geoffrey McKinney sold of the original--pictureless--Carcosa? Even less than fuck all. And he still is doing wayyyy better than if he'd freelanced on a wildly popular splatbook.

So the moral of the story is: find a little game company willing to split the profits with you--or just self-publish. Make some insane crayoned-together folk-art niche product that only a handful of people could possibly want--but do it your way and do it without editors and make something totally fucked up.

As of late November 2011 this community will, apparently, support you in your desire to make any dumb thing, so long as it is weird enough.

So let the squareglasses sit around and worry about growing the hobby and meeting the market halfway and having sex with their own grandmothers--you can do better for us and for you by making something really different that won't get made without your own special little snowflake brain than you can helping the machine pump out one more generation of hobbits.

In the long run, are "nobody-bought-one-but-everybody-who-did-started-a-band" albums better for the health of the overall business than spending hours filing rough edges off your thing so it can achieve Crossover Profitability at or equal to the calculated Gaga Maximum? No idea. But I know which one is more fun.

And if you do have dreams of one day working on something big for Games Workshop or the 'Bro: "did this, which is awesome" on your resume is at least as good as "one of the 900 people involved in that".

So, please: you can do whatever else it is you do for eleven other months out of the year, but take one (not necessarily continuous) month's worth off work you would've put into a freelance gig and write your nutjob project. You've probably done the R&D just running your home campaign. It will be more worth it than working for the bigs. The price of publishing is cheap enough, PDFs are popular enough, the audience is still spending money and--at least right now--you have our attention.

Do it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

RPG Professionals: Rude Question, Luckily This Is A Blog So You Don't Have To Answer

So, full-time RPG professionals...

How much do you make? A month? Per project?

You don't have to answer, (obviously, since I don't even know which of you are reading) and if you want to email it zakzsmith at hawt mayle dawt calm then go ahead. Your anonymity will be preserved.

But I've been looking at old Dragons and White Dwarfs and wondering about the economics of how it all fits together.

Data provided may or may not contribute to forthcoming useful insights.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What's That? Sleigh Bells? No! It's Secret Santicore!

Come sit on my lap--and watch out for the tail spikes, they do d6 each. HO HO HO..

Have you been nice? Just kidding, I'm sure you've been nice, no-one naughty reads Playing Dungeons and Dragons With Porn Stars.

So, what do you want for Christmas?

20 Rumors About Murderonymous Castle?

20 Reasons The Goblins Are Carrying So Much Gold?

20 Side Effects of Being Healed By A Cleric of The Wrong Alignment?

20 Hacks for H3--Hall of The Mountain Grill

20 Stupid Doppleganger Combat Tricks?

6 Geese A Laying?

5 Gollllllldennnnnnn Rinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngs?????

Sorry. Anyway...

Click this link to meet a little elf named Jez and tell him you want to participate in Secret Santicore and have your holiday wishes come true!
HO HO HO!!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Royal Fist Monkeys Are Trying To Kill You

This is a Player Service Announcement.

Dear My Players:

Royal Fist Monkeys are trying to kill you.

They are small and white.

They have large stone-and-metal gloves on their right hands, encrusted with precious gems.

They are trying to kill you.

They hate you.

You broke into their ice house looking for fun and profit, they have decided you will never leave.

You have observed these things:

They are fearsome.

They are organized.

They are horrible.

They do not die fast.

They know how to use both fire and flaming oil.

They killed Roger's guy.

Their Royal Fists are capable of delivering one punch doing d8+8 damage. After the punch they bite for d4+4.

You know because you have seen this happen 24 times.

There are many other dangers and wonders in the Ice Labyrinth of Hakleth besides Royal Fist Monkeys.

But you will never see them if you fight Royal Fist Monkeys all day.


-When you're in a big echoey room with a bottomless pit, and Kimberly Kane is like "Hey what's over there?" and I go "Are you yelling that across the room?" and Kimberly is like "Uh, yeah, sure" then be all "NO, NO KIMBERLY DON'T DO THAT! THE ROYAL FIST MONKEYS WILL HEAR US AND CHASE US AND THEN WE WILL BE FIGHTING ROYAL FIST MONKEYS FOREVER AND ALL DIE IN THIS HORRIBLE ICY MONKEY DUNGEON"

-Actually, that's the main tip. I can't think of any others right now.


To Any Other Readers Of This Blog Who Play Google + Games Or Are Thinking About It:

If any of you have characters hanging out back at the FLAILSNAILS Cantina, you have heard the bartenders of Earth-Amalagmated-FLAILSNAILS have started a betting pool on the success of this expedition.

Here's how it works:

You chip in 100 gp.

You say who you think will survive, who will die, how successful you think it will be that week, you make any other crackpot prediction you see fit.

There are no penalties for extra incorrect predictions beyond the first, so go ahead and make as many as you like.

Whichever player is the most right gets all the gold (and associated xp). If there's a tie, you split it.

Here's the deal so far:

They are in this maze looking for an ice medusa name Moroschka--trying to capture her and bring her back alive.

The Royal Fist Monkeys make traps. They are alerted to the PCs presence. They have 6HD. The last time there was a fracas there was 17 of them.

Other hazards have included an ice lamprey and some kind of emerald ooze. One each. Neither was too much trouble so far.

The core contestants on any given day may include, but are not necessarily limited to...

Kimberly Kane as Miss Mold Pig--5th level Bloodthirsty ADD half-elf barbarian. Accompanied by her (relatively lucky) dog, Sueno #6.

Mandy Morbid as Tizane Ildiko--5th level Curious Fancy tiefling cleric of Vorn and 1st level Barbarian. Accompanied by her wolf, Ursula. She has recently been reduced to 12 wisdom and has begun hallucinating after looking at a rug.

Caroline Pierce as Smacky the Fighter--5th level Laid Back human fighter. A very experienced and careful RPGer.

Darren, who plays a 4th or 5th level Sneaky Laid Back dwarf and tends to show up an hour late, save everyone and then leave.


Connie as Gypsillia--4th or 5th level Sneaky ADD Greedy half-elf thief. Like Kimberly, she is impulsive yet has never died.

There are several other players in the mix potentially, but since all of them either have erratic schedules right now or you can't really find out much about them on this blog by clicking the 'players' tag (or watching old Axe episodes) then I don't think it'd be fair to make you guess what'll happen to them. These four have been taking point lately in most of the recent games.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Metamorphosis Amber

The vessel contained complete Terran environments...Life became a struggle merely to survive for those humans that were left. In this struggle, all knowledge of the ships mission or even, in fact, that the humans were on a ship, was lost. Ship's systems were maintained in a minimum operative state by the vessel's main computer and the robots that were operating at the time of the cloud's entrance into the starship. Later generations of humans lost all sense of identity with the ship regressing into a state of savagery.
--Metamorphosis Alpha

The Ambers live magically lengthened lives, but they have seen too much and are bored. They seek anything to relieve this boredom. On top of their other traits, the Ambers possess a bizarre sense of humor. It amuses them to watch adventurers battle obstacles which the Amber family members place in their way. The Ambers are equally amused whether the adventurers succeed or fail. A good spectacle is more important to them than defeating the adventurers.

--Castle Amber


So, basically, there was:

-a prophecy of a great flood that the inhabitants of this fortress have been waiting for for a verrrry long time, or
-an actual great flood which they don't know is over yet, or
-some primordial lich or sorcerer-patriarch decided the outside world was in a Miasmatic Phase that his family and the lands they protect would have to wait out, so as to be able to begin a literal Renaissance spawned from uncorrupted lifeforms once it was all over

Anyway, point is now there's this palace--colossally imposed on the landscape like a dead stone god, hermetically--in every sense of the word--sealed, containing all the flora and all the fauna and all the items of culture and technology, because it's an ark.

Needless to say: this didn't work at all. After a few thousand years, most species were outDarwined or eaten, others simply dried up from lack of sunlight or welcoming weather. Everything that thrived was a dangerous mutant, everything that could think went insane.

It is laughably easy to get in. The locals will tell jokes about the inbred idiots that haven't seen the sun in centuries, and then they will tell you that no-one ever comes out alive.

The hobbies of the Antediluvian inhabitants include, but are not limited to:

-Breeding sharks in tiled pools.
-Alchemically modifying their own digestive juices so as to be able to chew and metabolize rock.
-Throwing babies.
-Pretending to be dead for decades at a time.
-Playing elaborate combinatoric wargames in an attempt to model what they suspect is going on in the outside world.
-Asking intruders questions and not believing the answers and then becoming very upset.
-Hiding from blasphemous deformed freak descendants of their own pets.
-Devising new and unusual ethanol-based beverages.
-Trying to renovate the architecture so as to ensure a decent and continuous supply of ice.
-Casting Speak With Dead and/or passing out behind the glass case in the All Maps Yet Devised room and waking up thinking they'd just cast Speak With Dead.
-Looking for new and exotic lifeforms to evolve so they can sacrifice them to their cruel gods.
-Puppet shows!!!!
-Making elaborate and very focused traps to protect themselves from creatures that may or may not have become extinct millennia earlier.
-Trying to murder each other through proxies. (Their complex dogma suggests outsiders are irredeemably fallen and so if they can get them to bump off their despised relatives without directly suggesting it they'll remain pure until the flood or miasma ends.)
-Polishing things in the Flatware Of All Known Nations Room.
-Composing works of taxonomy.
-Placing mystic seals across doorways after unfortunate mishaps.
-Insipid brunches that last 60 years where no-one really wants to talk to anyone else but does anyway.
-Losing maps they made of this sector that they could swear they left just over here on top that thing.
-Praying the new genus of octomantis will taste better than the previous three.
-Researching ways to build portals to dimensions that aren't more dangerous than where they already live.
-Waiting for creatures to become smart enough to hire or enslave.
-Experimenting with time compression.
-Furniture design.
-Trying to create jesters via eugenics and controlled exposure to confidence-eroding phenomena.
-Trying to remember who got polymorphed into what and why, when, and whether this gecko might be them.
-Dress rehearsals and dry runs for internecine intrigues.
-Fox-hunting. Though what they call a "fox" and what you call a "fox" may not be exactly the same thing.
-Admiring the way the words "Invoked Devastation" just trip off the tongue.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blue But Vicious Rose

"In the high fantasy quests of authors like J. R. R. Tolkien, or the larger than life swords and sorcery of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and others, heroic loners or small groups of rebels, outcasts, or eccentrics perform great deeds and go on quests to obtain power and glory or to protect the world from some threat.

"In the mid-1980s, a generation of new fantasy authors - Diane Duane, Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce, and many others - wrote fantasy novels different from any that had come before. The main characters in their novels occasionally start out as loners and outcasts, but find a place in society, generally as members of some prominent group or official organization that goes on exciting adventures to protect ordinary people from danger.

"Developing a sense of belonging and finding comrades are central features of these novels.
Most of these novels are in series, and by the end of the first book, the main character has usually found a community where he or she belongs. Many of the character’s adventures involve either becoming a more fully integrated member of this group or protecting the group from all romantic fantasy worlds, nature is a positive magical force, and anyone who protects it is on the side of good."

--Blue Rose (Introduction)

"Slaai communicate in enigmas and koans through their crystal balls (with ESP and clairaudience as standard), and can easily overwhelm your tiny monkey brain with mind blasting telepathic insights into their ancient cosmic frog perspective (save vs. death, fail = dead, pass = terror for 1d6 turns)."

--Small But Vicious Dog (Menagerie)


So if you don't know, Blue Rose is a d20-derived hippie version of F.A.T.A.L.--that is, another example of the distasteful and disastrous things that happen when the "fantasy" in "Fantasy RPG" is interpreted as meaning "wish-fulfillment" rather than "invention".

(It is also just all-around baffling. Here's a suggested adventure seed--the whole thing, verbatim: "51. A daring thief steals from the wealthiest people in the city". Um...Good? How is that an adventure seed? Why are there rich people in a progressive utopia?)

Small But Vicious Dog is a hack designed to make Basic/Expert D&D emulate Warhammer Fantasy Role Play which is nowhere near as boring as it sounds. Which, well, how could it be? Hacking a third-generation D&D-derivative to match the slightly different rules of a second-generation version of D&D may not sound like a terribly ambitious way to spend a weekend but Chris Hogan rips into his task with terrifying verve.

SBVD is a rules hack, sure, but more than that it's a creepily well-written running essay on all the differences between D&D and its transatlantic counterpart (in micro) and the grimdarkbrutalLOLweird take on fantasy vs. TSR's more catholic let's-just-make-this-game-about-anything-less-boring-than-the-midwest take on the middle ages RP.


Anyway the point is--obviouslyDuh--Blue Rose and Small But Vicious Dog need to be one setting.

For sure.

The DIY D&D Google Plus Brain Trust has been consulted:
(names obliterated to protect the abominationists involved)

"Thought for the day: Blue But Vicious Rose."

"Romantic fantasy with chaos attributes or Mercedes Lackey for cuckolding fetishists: You Can Have Both."

"We accept all philosophies in The Magical Kingdom of Chaoldea (*..sparkle sparkle..*)"

"Elsewhere, my zebra skin and long nose were shunned but now I finally fit in (weeping, hugs pegasus with oozing wounds)"


"Now I'm picturing the magic deer walking upright on scaly ostrich legs, dispensing wisdom from a tiny, parasitic faun that lives in its chest like the little guy in Total Recall."


Tell me that would not be awesome: not just your typical "something's not quite right in Stepford Camelot" set-up, but one where just every citizen is oblivious to the fact that all the symbols are always pointing in the wrong direction.

There's like an eight-gulleted Negaboar vomiting on children in the streets and ripping their ears off and wearing them like legwarmers and everyones' just like "He's just expressing himself!" The kingdom's main export is tediously optimistic NPCs found in random oubliettes. "Oh I'm so glad you found me! I've always believed the human spirit was powerful enough to triumph over any adversity!"

Do the Chaoldeans have secret plans to spread their utter lack of prejudice and imagination across the entire continent or is it just a very disturbing place to go buy a unicorn-hoof talisman? Hey, you're the DM, it's up to you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


So Jeff was like ok Zak you have your thief and your talking dog that can talk because he sat in the chair that maybe raises your ability scores or maybe makes you goo and it raised his intelligence and which is named Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter because of how he was named after a guy on the internet who..(ok well that's a long story, anyway)...ok point is anyway you are going down into the Caves of Myrddin with a few newbies who have never been.

So we did and didn't really find anything because we mostly spent time looking for vampires but found dead minotaurs instead but then so one of us decided to take a dead giant playtpus beak and use it as a fulcrum to steal the talking-dog chair and slide it away on dead snakeman bodies which didn't work and we got like no experience points that day.

However the upshot was when we went back to where the one guy left his donkey it had been all sucked by vampires. Aha!

A clue!

So I'm like:

Before returning to the Caves, Blixa would like to consult a sage:

Oh sage, how long must one give a donkey nothing to drink but holy water
before the donkey's blood is saturated with it?

And Jeff is all:

Sages are hard to come by without considerable travel and expense. However, you can consult the Abbot of the monastery, who will talk to the elder brothers about the issue. They suggest that for best results start the process after taking the donkey to mass on a Friday, then have him drink a vial every day at breakfast for three days, then on that Sunday have the donkey attend mass. He should be good to go for the rest of the weak, providing he doesn't commit any serious sins.
You should donate at least 100gp for the advice, one of the brothers explains to you rather shamelessly. Getting a donkey in to mass will require at least another 50gp in donation/bribery.

So I shelled out and the ass saw the angel and all that and then it's like the next day in real life and I am working and I see this thing pop on the Google + :

Need 2 FLAILSNAILS players with PC ready to go for Caves of Myrddin pick-up game right now!

Because Jeff was supposed to be going to this Nightwick Abbey dungeon but that didn't work out so then he started this game at whatever I'm tired in the morning and I was like ok Abe so then I get there and look at this 2 more newbies.

And I say: Gentlemen. I have a plan. Sit with me and watch a donkey and wait for vampires, first level guys.

And they were like yeah. Because of there's a reward.

So then we did it and then there's not just two vampires that I expected but four whole other different vampires including a Gilligan one and a Tattoo from Fantasy Island one (who bit the donkey) and I was like man a lot of vampires and then rolled a four so missed and Jeremy rolled something low but then our level one wizard caught three vampires in his holy-water-soaked net and then he threw a bucket of holy water on them and then I disintegrated one (long story) and so there was just a Gilligan hat and treasure map left but two of them escaped because they were fog.

Then we followed the map and got a magic sword.

Then we went to town and were like Drinks on us! And rolled on that and got in a fight and lost three hit points but man you should've seen the other guys because one was married and one was inveigled in love and one was a pig.

Then the guy who was all supposed to be running a dungeon got his internet working and so we went but then Boner the vampire-killing-helping thief was a pig but I was like come on with us anyway pig since you have a map and we fought zombies.

Also it was hard because it was made of geomorphs so the rooms were all where are we.

But anyway the moral of the story is that even in Lamentations of the James Raggi Wants Your Character Dead Fantasy Role Dying if you're fighting zombie on stairs then a talking dog and a smart pig are actually more useful than they might first appear because guess what are zombies coordinated? No they are not and they trip a lot.

So then after all that I had to go because I had to GM and my players were like hey and I was really tired because I had been up all night in dungeons-of-opportunity and then the girls were going into The Ice Labyrinth!!!!!

So first they chased down a white leopard man who was following them from last adventure and they were like he's our hogtied trap tester now and sure enough there's a trap and they shove him in and yep there's a pit with mastodon bones and a Royal Fist Monkey trap.

So then they fight the white monkeys that climb and hit with jeweled monkey fists. Then they went more into the dungeon and were like oh there's an alarm idiot tied up and the idiot starting howling and calling the monkeys so Mandy shot him and then all the monkeys were clambering forward.

So trouble happens and I roll d20 monkeys are coming...17. 6 HD each. With Royal Punching Fists.

Adam showed up at some point and he only had a Type IV character so I was like "whatever, we'll do a quicky conversion" but his crazy animunchkin sleep spell still only caught 3 then Kimberly Kane hucked a lantern at them.

Now I know some of y'all have some modernist notions about lanterns not making particularly effective firebombs but I figure: ten foot corridor, 17 monkeys, 3 asleep. That is a lot of fur in one place is what I figure. So now many of the monkeys are alight.

Mandy summons some monsters. Frogs. Then summons again and gets...roll...fucking fire elemental. So there is a lot of monkeys on angry fire hopping fighting frogs and 11 are on fire but our heroes remain surrounded with only a cul-de-sac and I had to sleep which reminds me I should calculate their xp.

But so anyway I wake up the next day in Glorantha because Runequest and I was like Barry Can I Just Use My Stormbringer Guy and he was like No You Are A Primitive Tribesman! And I was like fuck I better learn this magic system because jesus look at this strength and dex.

So then the other two primitive tribesmen were pretty much catching deers a lot and rabbits and getting bronze stuff from dwarves while I was just like Man, please spirits of the mountain guide my arrows which I didn't even shoot all day. And my guy's Size was 6--did I mention my guy's size was 6? SIZ 6 means you're a Runequest midget.

Anyway so then we went around and met lizard guys on birds and they were just like Hi and then we told people and then we got captured by the Bald Boar tribe and they sold us to someone else who tried to read our mind and then this chick tried to poison Arcadayn and I was in the stables with the horses and I was like WHAT DO YOU EVEN DO IN RUNEQUEST BECAUSE THIS PLACE IS CRAZY AND I'M PRIMITIVE and then we tried to escape and I bit a guy on the leg while Arcadayn rolled a 100 (which is bad) for like the fourth time and fell off a wall and they just decided we were crazy and sent us to some other lady who gave us porridge. I hope I get my stuff back.

So yeah.

Oh, and Bone Hill tomorrow.

Constantcon is fun.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Since Nobody Asked Me...Here's My Type V

Before I give you these totally useless design specs, here's something actually helpful: autogenerator for NPCs with stats done as 3d6 in order.

Now, on with the main event...

How I'd do Type V D&D if I was WOTC. It combines, flexibility, customizability and simplicity in one completely untested, probably fatally flawed package.

Design principles:

1. I tried to alter the systems involved as little as possible across all editions while keeping the other principles in mind.

2. Just having every class slowly getter better at to-hit and saves--regardless of class--over time doesn't really make them better since the monsters also have to get better to keep up. This leads to a situation where a big slow, dumb monster like a giant has to have a +6 or whatever reflex save just to keep up with its alleged difficulty level, which makes building new monsters a little harder than it should be and adds unnecessary book-keeping and number-crunching all around. Plus it means like a little 0-level old lady couldn't throw a bucket of water at a giant and probably splash it, which is bullshit. So nobody gets better at anything unless it's part of their class. Thieves (for example) who want to get better at punching people can just take a level in fighter. (James Raggi's LOTFP:WFRP made me realize this.)

3. On the other hand, it is nice to have all PCs genuinely way more confident at fighting at high levels than low levels so the game changes scale over time, and so you can have a basic "one day you'll be badass enough to kill Demogorgon" idea in everybody's head. So everybody does get more hit points as they level up no matter what.

4. PC options should be available for customization, but you shouldn't be at a disadvantage if you're the kind of player who doesn't want to sit around and fiddle with them all day. In other words: they should make your PC more customized, not more powerful. It also means WOTC can still sell splatbooks if they really have to.

5. Likewise, if you're inventing a monster off the top of your head, there should be a straightforward way to make it equivalent to a fighter of a given level without sifting through an OED of powers or feats. If a bear is a ninth level monster (i.e. equal to a ninth level fighter) you can assume it has 9 hit dice +con modifiers and +9 to hit +9 to damage +strength modifiers and needs no feats or powers to make it a competitive monster.

6. This is just a sketch. Considering the way +1 to hit is, in the long run, better than +1 to damage, there's probably some unevenness here if you have players who are hardcore optimizers but the problem can probably be fiddled away by moving some numbers around or putting maximums on things so I haven't bothered.

7. Making new classes, monsters and even powers under this system should be as easy as, if not easier than, pie.


System: everything's pretty much resolved on the D20 system. D20 + modifier to get a target DC.

Bonuses are as d20. i.e. 12-13 =+1, 14-15=+2 etc.

Classes gain hp as d20.

No matter what class you are...

Strength modifier applies to:
melee to hit
melee/thrown damage

Dex modifies:
reflex save
finesse/missile to hit
finesse weapon damage

Con modifies:
fort save
hp per level

Wis modifies:
will save
averaging wisdom and int bonus gives you your Notice (passive) and Search (active) check

Int modifies:
know stuff (lore, basic knowledge, etc.)
averaging wisdom and int bonus gives you your Notice (passive) and Search (active) check

Cha modifies:
dupe save (this is a new save, kinda like "sense motive" which is whether you have enough
social intelligence to tell whether someone's full of shit)

You can use your xp to take a level in anything.

Levelling up is on a "pick your prize" basis, with each "prize" usually only takeable once per level unless otherwise noted. Bonuses are cumulative.

Pick two to start, two per level:

+1 melee to hit
+1 melee/thrown damage
+1 missile to hit (may be chosen twice in one level)
+1 missile/finesse damage (may be chosen twice in one level)
+1 to know stuff about foe (ac, hp, damage/attack, etc.)
+1 to combat non-direct damage maneuvers (trip, disarm, etc,)
-you spent some time outside this level: add +1 to both climb, jump, other athletics and acrobatics, etc. and to woodland lore/outdoor survival and to find/notice checks outside
-At seventh level they can start choosing off the fighter list

Pick two to start and two per level:

-new spells of current available spell level according to whatever progression
-an extra healing spell
-an extra spell related to their particular god's domain
+1 melee to hit
+1 melee/thrown damage
+1 persuade, +2 to those of the same faith

Pick 3 of these to start plus 3 per level thereafter (thief abilities are pretty situation-dependent):

+1 backstab--points count toward damage and 'to hit'. The initial bonus for a backstab is the same as for a finesse attack.
+1 to climb, jump, and all other athletics and acrobatics, etc.
+1 lockpicking and other delicate tasks (disarming traps, etc.)
+1 find/notice (passive and active)
+1 stealth
+1 persuade
+1 dupe save
+1 reflex save
+1 to combat non-direct damage maneuvers (trip, disarm, etc,)

Pick 3 (or whatever, really, depending on how powerful spells are in the new system) spells to start, plus pick two of the following per level thereafter:

A number of new spells (according to whatever spell-progression table)
+1 find/notice
+1 know stuff
+1 new spell of spell level 1 above currently castable level that only works on a successful int check. If this is a high level spell and the check fails, there'll probably be an entertaining disaster.

Pick two of the following to start plus two more per level thereafter:

+1 missile to hit
+1 melee to hit (may be chosen twice at same level)
+1 melee/thrown damage
+1 to know stuff about foe (ac, hp, damage/attack, etc.)
-pick from a list of "If/Then powers" that are situational but, when they occur, very effective, like "Wrestle: + 4 to immobilize a same size opponent that is already knocked over or quadrupedal"
-at tenth level, can start choosing off the Warlord list below

This is where you start in with your splatbook stuff. (However, a DM just trying to build a high level fighter can ignore it and put all the level up points into to hit or damage or whatever)

Pick two to start, two per level:

+1 melee to hit
+1 melee/thrown damage
+1 know stuff about foe (ac, hp, damage/attack, etc.)
+1 heal points of damage equal to the number banked here. once/day.
+1 holy smite: this number plus charisma modifier
+1 to deal with horses and hit and damage in mounted combat
-at seventh level they start being able to choose off the fighter list or the cleric list

Pick two to start and two per level:

+1 melee to hit
+1 melee/thrown damage (may be chosen twice at single level)
+2 more hit points
+1 to know stuff about foe (ac, hp, damage/attack, etc.)
+1 to hit and damage for your once a day rage freak out.
-you spent some time outside this level: add +1 to both climb, jump, other athletics and acrobatics, etc. and to woodland lore/outdoor survival
-at seventh level they can start choosing off the fighter list

Pick three to start and two per level:

+1 backstab--points count toward damage and 'to hit'. (starts as a finesse attack)
+1 climb, jump, other athletics and acrobatics, etc.
+1 delicate tasks and stealth
+1 dupe save
+1 missile/finesse to hit
+1 missile/finesse damage
+1 know stuff about foe (ac, hp, damage/attack, etc.)
+1 handle poison

Pick two to start, two per level:

-new spells of current available spell level (may be chosen twice)
-you spent some time outside this level: add +1 to both climb, jump, other athletics and acrobatics, etc. and to woodland lore/outdoor survival and to find/notice checks outside
+1 charisma roll to persuade animals to do things
-annoying animal companion (maximum 1). If your old one dies you can use this option to get a new one.

Pick two to start, two per level:

+1 melee to hit
+1 melee/thrown damage
+1 know stuff about foe (ac, hp, damage/attack, etc.) (may be chosen twice per level)
+1 to combat non-direct damage maneuvers (trip, disarm, etc,)
+1 to persuade
-pick from a list of "If/Then powers" that are situational but, when they occur, very effective, like "Wrestle: + 4 to immobilize a same size opponent that is already knocked over or quadrupedal"


Bards suck.


Multi-classing: you can take a level in whatever as long as it isn't in the subgroup you're already in, these subgroups are:

Fighter, Ranger, Paladin, Barbarian, Warlord
Wizard, Warlock
Thief/Rogue, Assassin


Possible other hacks:

Instead of invisibility, improved invisibility, mass invisibility the spells will be named inivisibility-mass, invisibility--improved (etc.) so that when they're in the book and you look up one and it says "this spell functions just like some other spell (qv)" you don't have to turn the damn page.

Monsters have static xp values. Why not murder thousands of random henchmen at high levels just to level up? Because you're not that boring. Or, if you are and there's really no one else to play with, DMs can institute no-xp-for-challenges-more-than-x-levels-beneath-you rules.

XP can follow three patterns, the PCs choose which:

Old School: XP is given for monsters and treasure. Treasure usually nets about 4 times as much xp as monsters required to get to said treasure.

XP is given for monsters plus each PC picks what kind of thing they want to get xp for based on their PCs' individual motives. Like: "My wizard wants knowledge,""My paladin wants to help the weak" etc. The GM can award these as s/he sees fit but the total can still be divided equally if the PCs roll that way--so if everybody helps one PC achieve a goal, they all benefit

Tactical: XP for monsters at x5 normal.


I put some more thought into this once 5e was announced--these became "classic""heroic" and "tournament" more detail on how I'd do it here and here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Battle Oracle Mechanic + Easy NPC Wizard Spells

Battle Oracle Mechanic

PC wants to know how s/he'll do in the upcoming fight. Consults wizened and raisin-like oracle. Wizened oracle says something cryptic while fondling armor and PC's primary weapon. Then the PC openly rolls ten D20s and whatever die s/he uses for damage with his/her primary weapon of choice. DM does the same. The results are noted, in order.

The DM looks at these rolls, treated as the actual rolls that will come up, and says some goofy thing summing it all up like "The tide of battle will rush toward you, but break upon you like waves upon the shell of Inevitable Tortioise--but your sword's first strike will be a mere glancing blow..."

In the next battle, the PC's strikes--and those of his/her foe--will be treated as if s/he had just rolled exactly those numbers. In the order already written down for each side.


-the PC is told this

-this "number-matching" doesn't apply to the PC's allies

-nothing prevents the PC or his/her foe from using tactics that do not require an ordinary "to hit" roll or which cause a different kind of damage than the "primary weapon" die rolled

-the more the PC studies his/her foe, the more useful this oracle is

-DMs sensitive to non-immersive mechanics won't like this spell

the PC doesn't necessarily already know his/her target number (the target's AC) in the fight

-the nice utility-but-vagueness of this oracle is based on that ignorance-of-the-target-number, so using the same mechanic for tasks that require no input from the other side is less interesting. If you want to adapt it for persuading, climbing, or other noncombat tasks make sure the tasks use a GM-designed target-number system rather than a roll-under or otherwise static-target system.

Which Spells Does The Randomly Encountered Evil Wizard Have Left Today?

The wizard has one spell left for each letter in his slash her evil name, conveniently enough.

Consult the table below for Ye Olde Specifics. Same letter twice? They have it memorized twice. If the spell is over-level for the wizard, just make it a wimpy version with a save or something Hey--you're the god-damned DM, right?

A -Animate object
B -Blink
C -Command
D -Disintegrate
E -Evard's Black Tentacles
F -Fireball
G-Globe of Invulnerability
H-Hold Person
J-Joke causing Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter
K-Kiss of Dismemberment
L - Lightning Bolt
M-Monster Summoning
N-New And Disturbing Limb
O-Otto's Irresistible Dance
S -Sleep
T-Transmute Rock to Mud
U-Undo Last Round
X-X-Ray Vision (good for seeing your magic items)
Y-Yoink! (one object transferred from target to caster)
Z-Zone of Silence

Thus "Vorgon the Cruel" has...Volley, Otto's Irresistible Dance (twice), Reduce. Globe of Invulnerability, and New and Disturbing Limb.

If I wanted to be a real bastard I could also give him Transmute Rock To Mud, Hold Person, Evard's Black Tentacles (twice), Command, Reduce, Undo Last Round, and Lightning Bolt.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quick Dungeon NPCs

What's The NPC Want?

1. To get out of this fucking dungeon.

2. Revenge on a major monster in the dungeon. Random location. Roll a d12--whichever is furthest away near that o'clock

3. A fantastic treasure hoard they believe to be located...If your rooms aren't numbered so as to be rollable on a dsomething, roll a d100 and a d100 --it's somewhere around that location, treating the map as a cartesian grid.

4. The PC with the highest Cha.

5. A magic item they believe to be in the dungeon. This can either be one you already put in there or--if there aren't any--a regular item that you have in the dungeon that this loser thinks is magical.

6, To desecrate one of the altars in the dungeon.

7. To stir up dissent within one of the occupying factions (the goblins, the cultists, whatever) in the dungeon

8. To locate the rest of his her party.

9. To invent preposterous but plausible objectives to keep the PCs busy while s/he bumps them off one by one.

10. To slay and replace one of the heads of one of the factions in the dungeon.

Why Should The PCs Care?

1. NPC's an (average PC level + d4) wizard and if they don't help s/he'll kill them all.

2. NPC secretly or overtly controls a powerful faction in the dungeon.

3. NPC demonstrates extensive knowledge of much that is hidden--and will reveal more in exchange for aid.

4. NPC has a posse, a bad temper, and a map of the dungeon.

5. NPC is really hot.

6. NPC is on good terms with powerful creature in the dungeon and can get the PCs past it.

7. NPC has oracular powers or is a cleric with a few cure moderate woundses up his/her embroidered sleeves.

8. NPC is Sacred Fool of cleric's religion and cannot be harmed. Actual aiding is optional, but is recommended for ambitious holymen.

9. NPC is in a position to offer the PCs a sizable monetary reward once they are safely out of the dungeon.

10. NPC is like part faerie or leprechaun or something else enchanting and annoying so if the PCs don't help things may get a bit "whimsical".

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rhetoric 101 v. Nerdrage

Trying to play music off John's laptop...

Me: What the fuck is up with all this Le Tigre? You're not secretly some American Apparel hipster who never heard of X-Ray Specs are you?

John: Do you like to dance?

No I do not.

J: I like to dance--I like Le Tigre. If you don't like to dance, there's no reason to listen to Le Tigre.

(I briefly imagine John dancing before an appreciative crowd of deluded-but-perhaps-attractive American Apparel hipster girls who honestly have not heard of Poly Styrene and X-Ray Specs. Or are afraid of Poly Styrene and X-Ray specs.)

Me: Gotcha.


What we just did there is we had a conversation about taste that ended.

It did not end in mystification, mutual suspicion, anger, or simply out of exhaustion. It ended with each party knowing just a little bit more than they did before.

We're really good at this--at having conversations that end--possibly because of the excruciating amount of time we spent in art school.


People who have never been to art school often have the quaint idea that you learn how to make paintings or photos or sculptures or (even, maybe) video installations there (while drunk and deciding whether to get a nipple ring).

Not at all: what happens is you try to figure out how to paint, sculpt, draw or dress like a chicken or whatever all alone in a little room with no help at all and then drag the results across the street for a never-ending 4-6 year master class in how to have a conversation about the drawing, painting, sculpture or chicken costume that actually ends (while drunk and deciding whether to get a nipple ring).

Now: this is a narrow and mostly useless skillset--but it is the only one we all have. So we are proud of it.

You may not be able to draw, weld, stitch, take a picture, or hold down a job, but if you went to art school and can't have a conversation with an ending, you didn't do it right.

(Which, admittedly, many graduates did not since they were drunk and busy thinking about nipple piercings. But I digress...)



The eternalness (and non-enlightenment-producing-ness) of eternal nerd-culture debates along the lines of Mac vs. PC, 4e vs. (whatever isn't 4e), alleged realism vs. alleged playability, Old School art vs. whatever the other thing is, Star Trek vs. Star Wars, Kirk vs. Picard, Hot chick art vs. Not Hot chick art, are largely a result of the kinds of people who have them lacking one specific and vital piece of information about how conversations that don't begin with "Hello, this is Tech Support, can you please give me your computer's serial number?" actually work.



"I would still be playing (some kind of game) if (some other kind of game) was not better. I am sure to keep the cry babies at bay I must put here the obligatory "better for me"."

--some actual guy on some actual forum


The basic problem isn't the "crybabies" thing. Even The Internet already knows that isn't helping anybody get smarter.

The real problem here...

(And this is a common problem. This isn't just something trolls and 12 -year -olds do, it's something grown-ups do and then act all surprised when the predictable happens. It's as naive as going "What? This email isn't from an actual Nigerian prince?".

Common forms include when people seriously say:

"Gee, it's just my opinion! I'm allowed to have an opinion aren't I?"

--This one's from people trying to be all conciliatory--"Well I just add 'to me' onto the end of everything I see on the internet, saves a lot of trouble"

"I do it this way and if you don't you're a moron"

"I like this and if you don't you're having less fun than you could"

"I hate this and if you don't you're just a sheep"

"I used to like that thing, then I grew up", etc.) that whoever wrote that--and all these other things--doesn't understand that it's not just that "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts", they also don't understand that this:

I would still be playing (some kind of game) if (some other kind of game) was not better, and

I would still be playing (some kind of game) if (some other kind of game) was not better, for me

...are parts of two different, unconnected conversations. As different as: "It's raining here in Charleston" and "Please fetch me the blowtorch, Melissa".


" me" is not about courtesy. At all. Or even about nit-picky logic or grammar or what-all.

Assuming--and this is an assumption whose naivete and generosity I am aware of--you're typing for some other reason than to see words appear on the glowwy screen after you hit the wordycubes, these two statements have totally different purposes.

When talking only to people who already agree with you:

A statement-as-fact and a statement-as-opinion come across as virtually identical, but the only point in saying them is to go ahead and say and do other things based on the idea that that's true.

Like saying...

Bards rule!


I like bards pretty much the same if you already agree with the bard lover. But the only point in saying it would be to move on to some other thing, like: let's make a bard class for Encounter Critical!

It gets more interesting when people don't agree with you.

From the point of view of someone who does not already agree with you:

Announcing you believe a fact to be true is a way of starting a conversation about that thing.

Announcing your personal taste is a way of ending a conversation about that thing.

To people who don't agree with you:

When I go "I hate bards" (statement of personal preference) I am saying "If you like bards, keep them away from me, there's no point in trying to argue me out of it--it's fucking taste"

When I go "Bards suck" (statement of alleged objective fact) or even "I hate bards because...(and then give reasons based on alleged objective facts)" I am saying, in effect, "Tell me all the reasons you don't think bards suck."

Even if the post is kind of a joke to begin with.


If I go"Bards suck" and you say anything at all about why you like them. And I then go "Jesus, you guys, don't get your panties in a wad, it's just my opinion, they're like assholes, everyone should have one" that'd be like me turning on the tap and talking smack on the water when it comes out.

I mostly wrote this so I could link back to it whenever it comes up. Maybe it will help us get smarter faster.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One of those lazy link days

If you are on blogspot and happen to check your trackbacks right when the clock ticks over to the next day you'll catch the first few searches people used to find your site that morning:...mister or misses #5 there somehow just almost broke my heart nestled in among the bad spelling and venality.

Anyway, if you're out there, get in touch, DIY D&D will find you some players somehow. Your pathos is too poignant to ignore.

Guy #1 you disturb me.

And guy #4?--I wonder. I really do.

Some links I have been enjoying having the little Stephen Hawking who lives in my Mac* read to me while I work:

Geoffrey Mckinney's got ahold of John (Excalibur) Boorman's acid-rock-damaged screenplay treatment of Lord of the Rings and is pulling out the highlights...

Gandalf takes each member of the Fellowship, puts him in the liquid water, and rotates his fingers over his eyeballs. All the while Aragorn keeps the Wargs at bay. Then Gandalf pours fistfulls of salts and powders on the fire, which makes the fire blaze forth and makes the wargs retreat. This allows Aragorn and finally Gandalf to take swigs and get their eyeballs rotated.

The Fellowship is helplessly giggling as they fall unconscious. The water flows over their faces, then freezes. The wargs can't get at them through the ice, so they give it up as a bad job. The next day chunks of ice (containing the Fellowship) break-off and fall into a swift stream. The ice gradually melts, freeing the Company. stuff. Depending on the way you look at it, Boorman either pulled Tolkien forward to fit '70s pulp sensibility, or (Mandy's take) pushed Tolkien back in time to match the sensuality and alien nastiness of the mythplasm from whence it sprang. Anyway, not boring.

This "Let's read every issue of Dragon all the way through" thread is kind of hypnotic if you read enough in a row. I think it's best if you play it simultaneously with Neurosis: Live in Lyon.

More apocrypha: Waaaaay early George Lucas Star Wars scripts and treatments. Before R2-D2 and C-3p0 were robots, when there was no Han, Chewie, or Ben Kenobi and back when the script was a more straightforward rip on Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress. Courtesy of this guy.

*Highlight, Edit: Copy, Open: Preview, Edit: Paste, Edit: Speech > Start Speaking

100 Random Weird Historical Events

The Marquis De Carabas, one of the winners of the Hack Vornheim contest asked for a d100 table: The topic I would like to see is: weird historical events. A table where I could roll a number of times on to construct the history of a kingdom, empire or city.

Well "to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward" and who am I to argue with Proverbs 11:18?

Weird Historical Events

(I have included some less weird options in case you're rolling multiple times and want some sanity in your kingdom)

1. Linguistic chaos due to incursion of foreigners or Babel Plague
2. Influx of immigrants from (roll or pick) nearby land, distant land, beneath the surface of the planet, another planet, an alternate plane
3. Servitor or pet species (cats, donkeys, etc.) suddenly develops sentience or--less weird--a sudden and successful slave revolt or civil war resulting in emancipation
4. Nation becomes known far and wide for gastronomic delicacy dependent on ingredients ungrowable in other latitudes and longitudes
5. Children revolt, establish neocracy
6. Partial incursion of new religion (roll or pick) monotheistic, polytheistic, maltheistic/misotheistic, satanic/evil, baffling & seemingly arbitrary, hilariously primitive
7. Gears + steam = technological revolution. 50% chance of resulting disaster and reversion to local tech norms
8. Permanent flood turns buildings into islands
9. Ruler revealed to be demon. As a result all laws established during his reign (most fairly innocuous) are reversed by subsequent generations.
10. Entire population slaughtered.. (roll or pick) ...with no exceptions, ...except men, ...except women, ...except children, ...except members of an obscure profession (cobblers, etc.), ...except members of a common D&D class (roll or pick)... attackers uninterested in territory (or it was done by a disease) and leave them to build a new civilization.
11. Cities built in corpses of massive creatures
12. Complete change in religion--otherwise as (6) above
13. Roll on Jeff's table here--only results apply to entire area
14. War results in Great Wall of China-esque fortification. (Or is it a Great Trench?)
15. Anti-architectural phase. Citizens wear all-weather gear.
16. Size...(roll or pick) small, medium, species successfully domesticated and bred into various shapes and sizes, like dogs
17. Philosopher-kings
18. Land is cursed by witch-queen. Citizens born there may never leave (simple version) ...and that's that (complicated version)...women travel to the frontier to give birth so the baby comes out just on the other side of the border and is free to do as s/he likes. This only works about 1/4 of the time.
19. Obscure dietary restriction requires eating something fucked up once per day. (eyeballs, a pebble, manticore blood, etc.)
20. Belief in "supported consensus reality" becomes widespread. Nonbelievers in local religion held responsible for anything strange happening--that is: their unbelief creates distortion in reality-curves.
21. Carving and papermaking are tabooed/unknown. All important records & communiques from this era are tattooed on people or animals
22. Religious schism occurs when local god of important thing sells domain (seas, skies, justice, whatever) to rival god and moves on to other portfolio. Split between those who worship the deity by name and those (known as pathfinders) who worship what the god stands for.
23. Vindictive wizard: Populations' minds transferred into bodies of local livestock and vice versa. All animals are equal but the pigs are a little more equal than the others.
24. Nation oppressed by hyperintelligent rivals, universally adopt philosophy of unreason.
25. Obnoxious series of I,Claudius-esque assassinations and machinations results in constant confusion as to identity and policies of current monarch
26. Population wanders 40 years in desert
27. Dessert chefs rule population for 40 years
28. Nation enslaves neighboring nation. Suffers plagues from slave-nations god(s) as retribution. These are: frogs, lice, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, rivers turned to blood, slaying of the firstborn. These plagues continue for hundreds of years. Population becomes sad.
29. Genetic defect results in population having no right hands. Rely a lot on foreign labor.
30. Soil fantastically naturally productive for 200 yrs. All become massively fat. Almost immobile. Wheeled about in chairs or carried in palanquins by idiots.
31. A period of regrettable fascination with an obscure tome containing wisdom from beyond the stars.
32. Wars. Nearby land absorbed then lost again. Frequent border conflicts and nationalistic chaos.
33. Nation descended from- and has inferiority complex concerning- nearby other nation. Looks to them for learning, culture, etc.
34. Prophecy: there will come a Destroyer. An Axe Shall He Wield. A Throne Shall Be His.
35. Aristocratic caste so inbred it looks all freaky. In fact, it's gotten to the point where being deformed is seen as a sign of royal lineage. The weirdest-looking baby around is instantly coronated.
36. Queen obsessed with being fairest of them all incites pogroms resulting in extremely ugly population
37. Moistened bint lobs scimitar at young squire. Golden age ensues. You know the rest.
38. Population alarmed to discover 80% of sculptures in Hall of Statues are actually gorgolith. Begin wondering what the fuck is going on here. Though it does rather explain why recent sculptors seem somewhat crap.
39. Teratocracy (roll or pick) vampire, lich, alien, golem, dragon, doppleganger, naga, other
40. Curse, plague, or magical warfare results in landscape wholly unlike that of neighboring nations
41. Period of unrelenting brutality lasting 2d100 yrs. All is ash, ruin, and rot.
42. Period of rule by winner of "Cute Puppy" contest. Charm/Will save to avoid petting local pups
44. Land built on largely unassimilated ruin of previous culture. 10% chance it was a land of giants. 10% it was nonhumanoid
45. Massive battle leaves corpses of tower golems strewn across the landscape
46. Due to alignment of planets or magical disaster, nation spends a period of its history in the Realm of Faerie, Dreamlands of Unknown Kadath, Carcosa, or some other alternate plane.
47. Entire realm used solely as a necropolis for a period of time.
48. Period of crazy wizardocracy
49. Population dominated by ruling caste's control of mind-altering drugs/organisms/architecture/music
50. Thoroughbred slaves of the pleasure pits revolt: establish pornocracy
51. Custom demands rule by the (roll or pick) shortest, funniest, red-eyed, fattest
52. Infiltrations from the lands of madness and chaos have caused the population to engage in pogroms against all abnormals.
53. Capital of orthodox faith moved to this nation. Pope/patriarch/Sister Superior adopts diet of worms to prevent heretical infection.
54. Monarch involved in torrid love affair with (roll or pick) neighboring monarch, monster, distant ruler, inanimate object
55. Rulers hold a secret grudge against ostensibly allied nation for a perceived slight or betrayal in the distant past.
56. Nation and rival nation engage in Cold Warrish intrigues in hopes of acquiring powerful magical mcguffin.
57. Everyone in nation sold souls to extradimensional entity in exchange for protection from rapacious nearby empire. Are now an island of extremely boring people in a sea of otherwise ordinary kingdoms.
58. Due to geography or presence of vicious species nearby, the nation is--for some period at least--a strategic and commercial chokepoint.
59. Nation is entirely fortified due to centuries of unusually intense warfare.
60. Period of total pacificism and neutrality. Weapons and armor prohibited. How they lasted this long is up to you. Magic is the easy answer.
61. A legacy of moon worship, ongoing warfare, or an economy based on night-blooming plants (or all three) makes the populace primarily nocturnal for a few hundred years. Most crimes occur in daylight,
62. A comet known as The Initiator comes every 5 years and disaster predictably follows.
63. Democracy invented. Kept around for a bit.
64. New rulers must eat previous ones
65. Nation experienced warfare against intelligent mice, rats or insects. Obsessively clean for 100 + d12x100 years after
66. Nation entirely buried, by accident or--a la Petal Throne--by design.
67. Curse on throne: monarchs all die after 5 years. Rulers tend to be very live-fast-die-young.
68. Intoxicants outlawed. Travel to- and trade with- neighboring nations flourishes.
69. Cult of apathy ascendant
70. 700-year war to slay god of rival nation
71. Period where all citizens live in one enormous building
72. Nation overrun by hostile (roll or pick) demons, werewolves, zombies, dwarves, foodies, vampires, goblins, horsemen, elves, dinosaurs, mutants, other
73. Mathematics banned. Practiced in secret by anybody trying to get anything done.
74. King claims he's a pheasant (isn't)
75. Magic banned. Armored warrior cults defend nation
76. Brutal spartanistic throw-them-to-the-wolves-and-see-how-that-works-out culture fluorishes
77. Realm becomes client-state of larger empire. Many sons and daughters of local nobility sent off to be educated at foreign courts. They return (roll or pick) totally assimilated, full of hatred for the foreigners, feigning one the former while secretly being the latter, vice versa
78. Lottery-in-Babylon-style social order inculcated
79. Adventure diary/notebook of one of your players has been inadvertently sent thousands of years back in time and has been discovered and taken for a holy text by the locals
80. Age of (accurate) prophets followed by invasion. Records and transcripts of important prophecies lost and scattered. Much blood and treasure will be expended in ages thereafter to find them.
81. Monarch revealed to be (unknowingly) 1/4 changeling, sparking off confused and bloody succession war as the families of the various grandparents vie for power
82. Common vowel and associated sound declared heretical
83. Slaying of distant medusa turns much of the stone from which local buildings were made into flesh. Or if that's too weird, there was just an earthquake.
84. Inhabitants discover they are not human (or elf or whatever they thought)
85. Inhabitants discover sister nation with precisely identical history, culture, inhabitants, etc. on other side of world
86. Inhabitants discover hypercubic architecture--nation appears to consist of scattered settlements of unusually fine stone buildings on the outside, is in fact a bustling network of Escherian mazes on the inside. At least for a while.
87. Nation was shrunk, placed in a bottle, then an unshrinking ritual was discovered. However, by that time the area it had once occupied had been taken over. So the nation was moved to a new and more remote location, then unshrunk. Or so they say.
88. Religion causes dancing to be outlawed or mandatory
89. Periodic floods cause nation to be coastal for 50 years, then landlocked for 50 years--alternating forever
90. Nation invents medieval minimalist art style--cubic stone plinths with nothing on them and paintings of unbroken umber abound. Nearby cultures sickened. Many die of boredom.
91. Basically this part here in yellow.
92. Nation ruled by sentient paintings of dead rulers. The inhabitants were unaware that all their efforts were secretly directed toward creating vessels through which these souls might once again walk the earth.
93. Extreme neoplatonic phase. Everything that can be made spherical is: homes, weapons, the structures of poems, etc.
94. Extreme historian phase. Populaces divided into two parts: those who act and those who record their every action. Those who act are forbidden to do anything while their historian is asleep or otherwise unavoidably indisposed.
95. Inhabitants create simulatory "games of role-playing" to investigate possible outcomes of all courses of action before committing to them
96. Taxidermy takes the place of burial. Dead citizens, pets, and livestock in dramatic poses decorate the public squares.
97. Nation fears dispersion and disunity--all citizens are attached together by chains--each person is 900 links from the next. It is said some still hold to this practice.
98. Suffering-based legal system: the more wounded you are, the more rights you possess. King is leech-covered invalid.
99. Entire nation is The Prisoner/Truman Show-esque punishment/testing ground/combat arena during this era
100. 50% of population is acutely narcoleptic owing to aftermath of alchemical warfare.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vox Google-y Eye

So I was Googling, right? And the autocomplete was on. I was like "Dungeons and Dragons is" and my computer went ahead and finished my sentence...
...and I was like, huh, wouldja look at that.

(click to enlarge these, naturally)

Well Internet what do you think of...the devil?
It would appear my computer thinks D&D is worse than the devil.

Hmmm. What about, say.......George Lucas...?So, wait a second, internet, the artist responsible for your four favorite movies (Four? Yes. Have you seen THX 1138? I think you'd like it.) is a hack?

What about...dwarves?
Holy fuck! Tell me more, weird machine!Well, that's certainly a...lot...of opinions you have there on D&D. What about other games?Well Internet, you sure like Shadowrun. (Though you're so vain you probably think it's about you.) And it's nice how Vampire got off with "Vampire the Masquerade is a role-playing game". Probably the nicest thing I've ever heard you say about it.

What else is on your mind, Internet?I didn't realize there were so many Canadians. Though I did know alligators were unfriendly. What do you think of crocodiles?O.......K........ Got anything else to say?My bicycle and Hitler? I think you're just saying shit to fuck with me. Is there anything you just have a straightforward opinion about? I mean, besides Shadowrun?To be honest I haven't seen the new one and can't remember the last one too well--I don't like looking at guys' nipples.

Anyway, what I want to know is: how did you get so fucked up?Well....yeah....but, still, that seems a bit uncharitable--I mean, what makes you think you know so much?