Sunday, February 21, 2016

Let's Talk About My 2015

So they didn't just remake that movie. They also made a sequel, which I knew, and last year made another sequel, which I did not know. At this point I would just chop off everything below my navel and weld my torso to a desk like Michael Korvac.
....I'm going to try to be good to myself. There's not a lot to be proud of from last year but maybe some of this is it. I'ma look back at everything I wrote here and see if I can find something to get inspiration again. This was written in several bursts when I just wanted to write SOMETHING and as such I'll probably repeat myself a little. It is not properly hyperlinked because I am a lazy kid.

DUNGEON MIX: Doomsday Bride in Gargoyle City- "You wake up in a dungeon with no idea how you got there and everything you do will likely kill you" is a good enough way to start a campaign, this is just slightly recast. Some of the trappings here are good but if the players aren't inclined to try to figure out their predicament they'll only be ground up by what seems like randomly folding catastrophe. This is really a holdover from 2014.
Everything Has Teeth- Part of a sort of universal field theory of monsters and dnd cosmology I have running in the background, my default assumptions that inform my campaigns but never really something that impacts play noticeably unless they dig for it. Bit....pointless really.
Cannibal Cowboys- So 2015 was the year I rewrote a ton of stuff I'd written for this fantasy cowboy game in 2014 and started putting it on the site. The year of Doublecrossroads. I actually did not run OR play as much as I'd have liked last year for various reasons and maybe only ran like 12 XXR sessions. Menda played a cannibal in one of these but she never ate human flesh so fucking pointless here. Their abilities also need revisiting I see.
Common Folk- More XXR stuff. They're not great at anything but they level quick and they have a diverse set of shitty abilities, this is that one asshole from One Piece with the slingshot. I used a LOTFP fighter as a baseline in making design choices and eventually turned that into my Soldier, and these guys are meant to be about 1/2 of a Soldier type.
RPG ABCs- I'd had the idea to do this for a while and I thought about making a big article series for it but nah. I think it's a good idea to do if only so people have an idea where my head is before they play at my table maybe? But "I think this about this" is something the rpg hobby is fucking drowned with, best to get it all out and then try to write something that either I can use or someone else can use.
Roll For Majesty- Hahaha I was going to get this book published by now, so much for that idea. Even if I had the money for art I absolutely do not have a finished manuscript or any testing done. Just a lot of notes. I'm divided as to whether to push forward and finish something that (I think) no one really wants or needs out of sheer PRINCIPLE....or to scrap the whole damn thing. Probably the only reason I haven't scrapped it yet is because of how many other game things I've scrapped the last two years, and the fact that I scrapped my Dracula book.
Career Tables for Doublecrossroads- I....really need to redo these tables, now that everything has been more fleshed out with the XXR stuff.
REVIEW: In Mansions For Flowers- I like writing these in general but the Bloom Rose series was just super taxing to me.
Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Barbarians- Ha oh right the year of XXR, the year of Moon Slave. I will never know why I decided to revisit Moon Slave much less make him a whole thing. Every one of these things I do for 5e are incredibly unbalanced, less by design than by not really caring so long as it sounds cool to me at the time.
Holy Man- Now....I actually like these guys a lot, if only because basing your religiosos around appeasing their crazy bosses instead of around melting zombies is, to me, more interesting.
Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Background- I should do more of these for Moon Slave maybe?
Turning D&D Monsters Into Dinosaurs- When you refuse to go to bed until you've written SOMETHING sometimes you get this. The article itself isn't maybe much but is serves as signpost that those reskinning opportunities are always there. No reason to reinvent the wheel when you can just make it a dinosaur.
The Gardeners- More birds. It can be hard to get into the heads of these birds and then figure out how they'd talk, and then keep them all distinct. I don't know that I've ever pulled it off apart from the Sistren.
Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Let's Talk About Moon Slave- Oh my god shut up shut up...here's an article where I clearly got so tired during the overlong preamble that I got sleepy by the time I'd found my point. Classic.
VDND Druid Path- Green Knight- What the fuck D&D why why why are you obsessed with your druids being able to turn into wolves, have wolf friends, and summon wolves, to the exclusion of the rest of nature? It'd be one thing if you didn't have all this cool plant shit lying around but you do so what?
The Shootist- I go back and forth on the Shootist because they're not as flashy as some of the other weird XXR classes but I maintain that using every firearm and basically doubling the action economy for firearms is a good enough advantage.
Kinds of Crocodiles (d50)- When you refuse to go to bed until you've written SOMETHING sometimes you get this. Actually this was written when I was reading a lot about people with crocodile disease.
Initiative Should Kill You- I like simple initiative but I don't know I make my point well here.
REVIEW: My Judgment Day Clothes- In terms of time put into them vs audience response the Adder Entertainment stuff has one of the consistently lowest ratios. It always feels good to have one done and I enjoy them kinda so I still do them. I guess if the whole thing wasn't such well-trodden territory, if everyone hadn't already posted THEIR retrospectives years ago, it'd seem a bit more novel.
Soldiers- Oh right I have got to redo/add some more Veteran Edges. So Soldiers have oodles of stuff on them, they're really part of a lot of the baseline assumptions in XXR.
Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Sorcerer- I have no memory of this place.
Kind Songs- OK if there's one thing from the bird experiment I'll be sad to see go it's the magic, I like the magic.
Hit Points Are Kung Fu- Luck or Fortune is basically a redundant thing in most games unless it's very central to design. I mean I have Luck in XXR but it's a system you can engage with optionally and is really just there because I like the old "shields shall be splintered" house rule but my players keep forgetting to use it. Same with like...VDND Inspiration, but *I* keep forgetting to use it. Otherwise that abstraction can be roundly covered by DISCIPLINE.
Weaponizing the Non-Weapons From Page B12- Sort of going with the above, adventurers in a dungeon making do with supplies they have on hand is a staple of dungeons but it's usually in a Cast Away or MacGyver kind of way. In D&D you always have the option to be Jackie Chan.
Sketches From When I Couldn't Sleep- So for a long time I'd only update this site with "real updates" that was mostly stuff for mutual reference from me and my players. Whenever I was up late for various reasons I wouldn't put up an article I'd just channel my energy or frustration into a quick little thing and post that to G+. This is pretty much all of that stuff until like Arnold and Scrap united to go "Uh you know this is postable content" and I said "It is? Fuck." I never went back and pulled much from those old posts, so here is all that shit at once.
You Can Dwarf If You Want To- Default assumptions for demihumans. It's possible you bring a dwarf or elf from another game into one of mine that doesn't fit that mold. That hasn't happened yet though because I don't usually advertise games as open FLAILSNAILS games. Maybe I should do more of those this year?
The Hate People- Part of my initiative to make more races that aren't based on elements, animals, or ethnic stereotypes. I don't stat these up as full race options for any system because the idea of them should be enough, and it only takes minor tweaks to realize them in whatever system you have. I also find that makes people less likely to use them as random encounters, where they can be accomplished even more easily.
Picking Random Book Off Shelf At Work- Sometimes I was at work all night for an event but still wanted to get something done. That's all.
The Melt- Another funky race. I feel like one or two of these new types in addition to traditional humans would make an interesting game but I can't decide if throwing all of them in there would be awesome or nonsense.
Bookshelf Dungeon 2- More of that stuff, less interesting.
Secret Santicore Bonus Material- I am proud of my last couple Santicore entries in ways I simply could not be of my very first Santicore entry, a DCC spell request I was patently unable to meet. I wonder in both cases how useful they would be to the requestors. Or to anyone really. How useful is anything I do? Does anybody use any of it?
The Lawman- No one has played one of these yet.
Walking It Off- I do like this idea a lot but I've yet to implement it.
Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Feats- People worry a lot about feat balance but I think if you're opening the door for feats you don't care as much about balance really.
My Players Captured One Of These And Named It Jeffrey- Well there was a lot of work that went nowhere when that campaign fizzled.
Whipping Elemental Evil Players' Compantion Races Into Shape pt 1- This was one of the first big releases after the initial books and adventures and it was a disheartening glimpse at the road ahead, WOTC doing a lot of the same old stuff not because it would be interesting and cool but because it had been done before, people liked it then, and we don't want them to feel left out. I never got around to genasi for this series but man I hate genasi so it's okay. I frankly resented how sucky and bland the aaracockra were, or however you spell that. Were and to my eye had always been. "Someone wrote a novel much later where one of them had an important role or was actually given personality" doesn't do much to sell what starts as a bland concept.
Nac Mac Feegle- I'm not sure these guys work but I've seen other kludged races in the mean time that have enough in common here to make me think they're not all bad.
So Terry Pratchett God Damned Died- I've got a lot of books of his I still haven't read since this. The air has gone out a little. Maybe I'm hoarding them against the absence of future entries. Maybe I've been just stressing myself out lately and unable to really enjoy them.
Patrick You Talk Movies Good- I don't think there's much to add.
Them Men Who Are Drugs- I redid this one twice because it was too close to two separate Arnold K. articles. Pretty happy with the end results I guess, another weird race.
Invincible Colour- So this is an old superhero idea I had turned into a D&D race and one of the better received weird races. I'm absolutely going to have to run a game soon that is just bouncing between these different kingdoms for like the first 20 sessions so by the time the party sees its first orc they go "oh thank baby jesus."
Witch- This started out as a very modified version of my fuck-druid but I've gone back and tweaked it since then. Now they're similar. All magic is alive and I actually went through a lot of different magic in XXR, all of it more alive than the last. Maybe I'll bring some of that back but I doubt it.
Farmers' Market Gnomes- Mechanically svirfneblin or whatever they're called aren't a real problem but there's not anything to them. They're another race that exists mostly because they HAVE EXISTED for a long time, not because they bring anything to the table. If I was making up gnomes and shit whole cloth I would just make these a whole different thing.
Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Rangers- There needs to be more chasing in D&D in general and rangers are a good fit for some high speed and some parkour.
Wretched Bells- OK so this wasn't so much a story like an EC comic as it was something out of Tales to Astonish which was trying to be a venomless EC comic. I like some of the turns in this language and I would still probably include this spot on a map.
Fire on the Velvet Horizon Ends Prejudice With Birds Drunks and Children, Film at 11- So I liked this book very much. I've yet to use it straight but it is one of the supremely limited RPG products I have ever read more than once and indeed continue to go back and reread passages of. I don't think I've used a monster straight but every time I do it gives me four ideas.
Signs of Societies- Man I wrote this a long time ago and it's the kind of RPG thing that exists to solve a problem no one has. I think there could be a use for it though, I might combine it with all my desert peoples from Santicore...
Four Thorks Because I'm Drinking- These aren't necessarily more interesting or useful than the existing thorks, I just have more space and use fewer game terms.
Buckbeak More Like Suckbeak- Four Hippogriffs- Same.
One Page Dungeon 2015- WARSTONE GORGOTHRA- I was slightly disappointed with how this performed but I shouldn't be. I approach these things as weird collages and expect the finished products to be printed basically at OfficeMax, fuck your printable space Hewlett Packard. I can't guess they're that useful.
The Buffoon- I need to go back and rejigger this. Also I really need to do more of these.
The For Artemis- The least useful article from last year that I still liked a lot at the time. I think it's a strange piece now.
I Want My Players To Die Just So I Can Use Arnold K's One Page Dungeon- I liked this a lot more than most of the winners and even used this in the intervening year. Serious question that sounds like sour grapes: does anybody use the top level OPDs from the last couple years or do they all go "yep that's gorgeous" and live their life?
The Chameleon- A better type than the buffoon but still needs work.
Skinwalker- This is a white person article. I'll say here what I've said elsewhere that I tried to make Doublecrossroads by taking all your typical fantasy shit and converting it to wild west analogues, not the other way around, because (as an example) people treating first nations peoples like magical elves super annoys me. To my mind these peoples are just another race of persons in the West as likely to be mayor as hermit, master as servant, Soldier, Witch, or just plain Common Folk. There shouldn't be a discreet "Indian class." That's where I fucked up because in deciding I wanted a shapeshifter class (with lots of stuff I half-remembered 3 years later from gloomtrain's Beast Child that hopefully came out different enough) and put it in that setting I just....could not think of a better name. Failure of imagination, it ties the class to far more specific and concrete connotations than I'd prefer and accidentally backdoors a Magic Indian class. Fuck.
Smoke Assassins- After the Lazurus seemed to work I decided to write up an old TSR Marvel Super-Heroes character I never got to play as a new D&D race as well. It did not go as great but still usable.
Unbreakable- There's not much meat on this article idea-wise, just a mechanic that I think a lot of DMs might balk at. I wonder if anybody will ever play one of these.
Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Witchmaker General- The kind of wizard who stays to back ranks and just empowers the shit out of the warriors around them to go kill things better than they could, that was the idea I remember. It's passable.
Jingling, the Abandoned Shadows- I wanted to do another weird race that interacted with encumbrance rules in a bizarre way because no one ever does that much. I made some bone-fleshed hollow people and write an obscure little short about them. Little loved at all and I can't claim it deserved more.
Salvation- Just gibberish.
What else am I supposed to do with Faedorne?- Not an interesting idea, just drawing at straws to get an article out.
Carcharodemetreonites at the Door- I made these guys and then immediately ran an ocean-based game where they can't exist, because I'm super clever.
You Can Literally Just Tell Me To Do Things- Grasping again. Someone prompted me with spells. I guess I should do more. These are blog spells though, nobody ever uses blog spells, you just write whatever you think would be an interesting thing to have magically happen and then everyone lives their lives.
Languages Your Game Already Has- I'd been thinking along these lines for some time and I may pull the trigger on codifying this as official Language rules soon....It's all a bit abstract but all D&D language is a bit abstract, this is just a different way to ask Do You Understand The Troll?
The Unicorn Nemesis- Probably the thing I've done in the most games but not all that inspired.
If I Haven't Scared You Off With The SAT Essays, Let's Play Some D&D- Shut up shut up shut up. Got asked to run a game and overthought things too much. I am such an asshole.
Hunters- At first blush their aiming rules seem to give them an edge over Soldiers or Shootists but both of those classifications are more generally helpful where Hunters are just built to track and ambush.
gambado, Gambado, GAMBADO!!!- This is not as bad as I'd remembered it but it's also not very good.
REVIEW: Sweat of a Sun God- This was perhaps the hardest to write because of what a transitional period it represented historically and for the series.
First Book of Moon Slave- I was filled to the brim with caffeine and had a beer.
Cannon Pits of the Bullet Dwarves- Chaos Request Line fulfillment, I wanted something short and sweet that did some lifting on a few "why run this" ideas but didn't use too many extra parts a DM would have to keep track of from some blog out in BFE.
Timeless Consequences- Same, I think these are...fine.
Downball- Everyone really liked this a lot but I don't know that anybody has messed with it at all, because it seems like misusing it or fumbling should prove dangerous or lethal.
MONSTER TRUCK- Nope. No good.
Second Book of Moon Slave- I had several beers and some caffeine. I decided that these could only be done while drunk, and as soon as I processed that decision I decided not to do any more. Maybe now that I've shaken that notion I'll pick them back up?
VDND Tieflings I Like Better- Ehhh some stuff I half remembered from Zak a million years ago in a very 5e filter, which makes it very 3e, which makes it ok I guess. Still better than regular 5e tieflings who are boring.
VDND Aasimar That Aren't Aasimar- Same here. I don't think these guys should be overly sanctimonious or pious exactly, after all All Gods Are Monsters in my games, not to mention that I like to think of faith like a muscle, and these guys just experienced something that shot it full of steroids, like psionic classes. Hmmm...develop this idea more.
Killing Goliath- I continue my pointless vendetta against the 5e Elemental Evil Players' Guide by not actually improving anything very much again. It all boils down to, sure, everything works fine, but all the ideas behind the original classes are the most boring version of something. Gorilla guys might as well happen as not I suppose.
Koreshan Sphere Wizards- These guys get spell slots to track certain effects but no spells. I feel like giving them spells makes them too holy shit powerful but not having spells means it takes them longer than a normal Magic-User to start really pumping out the power. Maybe if I adjust their advancement and take it away from MU progression?
Trinkets Table for Whiskeyworld- OK this was a good idea and I think everyone needs one of these for their campaign world, 5e or otherwise.
Wild Sorcerer Effects Tables for 5e- ....and I actually think this is a very good idea as well. It makes the choice to be a wild sorcerer matter more consistently and have more impact. It also uses the 3D space of the table which I often enjoy finding ways to do.
Moon Slave VDND World Your- Trophies and Fetishes and Offerings to Moon Slave- These are fine too but look how incredibly obvious it is that I got tired at the end.
VDND Drunken Master Subtype WHILE DRUNK- This seems fine but who cares a hundred people could write this.
The Twinmen- ENTIRELY got away from me in the process of writing it. Was going to be SO weird and instead just became a 4e message board post about space management.
Art Call- Fuck me right? At this point I was optimistic enough about being forced by circumstances to leave the comic shop job for the construction warehouse job that I thought in no time we'll be doing FINE! I'll be able to fast track this little project! What I didn't realize at the time was exactly specifically behind the 8-ball we were financially. We had stayed up on our mortgage and car and stuff but man everything else was just such a long trail of bullcrap.
Ask And Ye Shall Receive (5e Race- Iagur)- So my friend/coworker/boss was going to play in that Whiskeyworld game and then she didn't get to. I made her this kind of guy anyway because it's what she mentioned playing unprompted by me. I actually recently finished working on something cool for her guy in place of a normal Oath, I'll put that up eventually.
Brawler- OK this is the puncher XXR class and I go back and forth on whether I'm happy with it. It's meant to be as much Indiana Jones as it is James Arness or Gordon Liu and I guess it works a little.
River Over the Rise- Hoboy. So a long time ago I had this idea and it Katamarid other ideas along the way and now that idea is Breaka, where the basic idea is that 1) Red Sonja is not actually Girl Conan and there needs to be a Girl Conan, but 2) Regular Conan isn't what most people think of him as so neither should Girl Conan be. Also 3) I cannot do a good REH imitation so best to just stick to my weird campfire style prose poetry I reckon. I wrote a couple short things with her including a small scrap that got posted to G+ a long time ago but this was the longest thing I wrote about her. It is by no means a final form and I will honestly not revisit this and turn it into anything approaching a real draft of this story for a long time, until I've written and polished several other Breaka stories. To me the idea of where she comes from is nowhere near as important as what she does but this was an idea that popped in fully formed, including some of the language, so best to get it out now.
XXR SAVING THROWS- I like this method basically. It also helped prompt the decision to change a few things about classes and to finally ditch armor altogether.
Professionals- LOTFP specialists with a slight bit of fuckery going on. NBD.
A Room A Day- And of course at this point eeeeverything ground to a halt for a long time. Work kicked my ass too much and anything I had left over went to my wife because she comes before nerd shit. I think one day I'll just delete this once I find a home for a couple of these rooms.
MOUNTAIN MEN- The hardiest of XXR fuckers. Not much to eat here apart from nourishing your desire to be the thickest dude in the room.
THE CHOSEN- An optional XXR class that only works if you're spending a lot of time with the Shock system and tracking madness and shit. The fun thing about them though is using them to slowly drive someone in town mad over time.
Some VDND Halfling Subraces- Nobody does as many of these. Seems like if we're going to have hobbits in the game at all then we should have some weird hobbit races, and if they're too specific to support that then fuck em.
Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Death Dealer- Even for Moon Slave stuff this may be a bit much.
Some Stranger Watching- If the last Breaka story was a bridge too far and all over the place and difficult to read then this is just gibberish. Buried in here are a couple of ideas I think should be core to these stories, one of which is that Breaka should constantly be getting just absolutely fucked up. She is not weak for being a woman, she is weak for being mortal, something that Conan certainly had going on and something that Sparrowhawk had going on and even someone like Corwin from Amber and so on.
DUNGEON MIX- Rambling Collection of the Sky Thieves- When this got accidentally deleted because I'd zoned out and not realized my computer took too long loading something and jogged my page down an inch while I was cleaning up my drafts? It disheartened me far, far more than it should have, perhaps. Really it just reminded me of how I fucked up and accidentally deleted all of my poetry and my 3 favorite wedding pictures, made me feel like a bigger fuckup. I spent too many nights trying to undo my mistake before it ever occurred to me, like RIGHT before we moved, to get some help and actually Google my problem and ask others for help. Boom, back like 10 minutes later. I am such an idiot.
AGARTHAURUM- Said it many places before and I'll say it again here, everything I've done with XXR has been working from a fantasy world first and trying to find wild west analogues, rather than the other way around because that way always lies Magic Indians and I hate Magic Indians. That's really just one example, there are a lot of things I don't want at my table that I can get out of by not just making the game take place in Literally America Plus Dwarves-n-shit. For all that work though I do come close with the Aurum here by simple making them semi-indigenous and stealing a vaguely Aztec vibe (only in that their society covers everything in gold). Still one thing it does do is get more American fantastic fiction into a fantastic America rather than the fringes of fantastic Europe, which was also one of the design goals of XXR.
Getting the Shopping Done Early- I'll fucking cop to not getting basically any of this done but in my defense basically nobody here got back to me. I know nobody NEEDS me to think of a cool idea for them but I thought it would be my own private santicore I could use for prompts to help get me writing again after hooooly shit such a long time.
Here's Five Candles- Started working on this fucker in June. This is not six months worth of work I can tell you.
Drifters- Another optional XXR class for if you're actually going to use Reputation all that much. A whole lot of the design of XXR classes just involved taking different aspects of the game and finding a way for one type of person to do that better than any of the others, which I flatter myself to think is how the original classes were designed. They're very powerful surrounded by neutral NPCs, a little helpful in a dungeon with monsters, and basically not helpful when dealing with everything else that comes up during play. I really like the idea of them being Summonable.
REVIEW: Lain to Rest At Last, At Last- The recent rerelease announcement for the Bloom Rose Sequence includes everything that was in the Elephant plus some setting detail from Bloom's personal notes. When that gets released I'll probably do a sort of appendix review.
Moon Slave VDND World Tour: Killscreamer- Bards are a mess in general and I think they've gotten messier and less distinct as time has gone on. I like the idea of Bard as 4e Warlord or like a football coach or living heavy metal soundtrack so here that is.
I Lost and Forgot This Lost Forgotten Dungeon- Chest dungeon with weird chests I ran my players through like five years ago, pretty fun.
Glorious Within- Long unfinished and not that good bird entry.
I Am So God Damn Mad About Pearce Shea's In The Woods Right Now- I am going to run this again soon because I keep wishing there was more of it. I've got my own irons in the fire right now, too many, or else I'd consider just reaching out to Pearce and making my own Monsterparts compatible stuff. Honestly though I haven't been doing ANYTHING lately so who knows when I would get around to finishing even a single project or idea...
The Headless Plague- This one was all right I guess. I had to knead it a lot not to make it just read like Playable Undead #317 and I don't think it does. I think it comes out its own thing, which lets it be another one of my weird races.
Brach's Baffling Box- One old and silly D&D idea I had from back when I was first getting into the game.
Wraiths and the Monster Makers- I actually thought this was a better article than the attention it got.
VDND Bone Man- These guys work okay but come far too close to being my least favorite kind of races.
Kick The Map's Ass- I am going to refine and use this. Very soon.
The Left- Another weird race, this one again is very specific but I don't know if I describe it well enough not to make it just like...a structureless short story about a loose grouping.
Unancients- Wow noooobody liked these guys.
Variant Magic User Armor- I just reread this a couple of days ago actually and some of these ideas are all right. That said I think this works fine for quick and dirty adjustment but I partly want to tinker a couple of these entries into full classes?
Toxic Blood for VDND Sorcerers- Sort of fulfilling one of my own-private-santicore requests, I think this works fine for a specific Captain Planet Villain flavor but isn't that interesting I guess.
VDND God Sorcerers- Ibid, except here I was obviously trying to make a Jack Kirby class. I think it's okay.
Foxcrow- Man my party hated this guy because A) he was a dick and B) everyone else was nervous about him. This made the PCs nervous about him too. He, like Klort, is a good example of keeping big bad guys relatively low level and using the threat of them to do all your high level work.
Where Do You Roam: The Long Road to Paladins- Oh my god shut up oh my god shut up. A whole load of gibberish and then at the end there's a kind of Paladin I want to test out in someone's game, whoever will have me. Not ultimately worth it though.
REVIEW: They're Here Already II- Fuck me these are getting long, I either need to scale back on these future entries or I need to go back and add in some of the extra details I left out for the sake of brevity and clarity in the earlier entries.