Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Eight More 5e Halfling Subraces

Braveheart

Ability Score Increase: +1 Charisma
Stalwart: Allies within 15' of you share your advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
Stand Fast: You have advantage on saving throws against becoming prone.

Summer

Ability Score Increase: +1 Constitution
Ol' Fishin' Hole: Gain a swim speed 25'.
Outdoorsy: Gain a climb speed 25'.

Autumn

Ability Score Increase: +1 Constitution
Harvester: You gain training in Animal Handling and Nature. You also gain proficiency with sickles and whips.

Winter

Ability Score Increase: +1 Constitution
Hardy Stock: You have Resistance to cold damage.

Spring

Ability Score Increase: +1 Constitution
Equinox: At any point you may spend a Hit Die to add the result to a death saving throw.
Renewal: At any point you may spend a Hit Die to gain advantage on a Charisma check.

Vagabond

Gift of Gab: You learn 2 languages of your choice and a variant form of Halfling called Jang, only known to other Vagabond Halflings.
Tool Proficiency: You gain training with a Cartographer's Tools.
Skill Proficiency: You gain training in Survival.

Underhills

Ability Score Increase: +1 Wisdom
Soulful Eyes: You have advantage on saving throws against becoming blinded.
Sharp Ears: You have advantage on saving throws against becoming deafened.

Determined

Ability Score Bonus: +1 Charisma
Unrelenting: You ignore your first point of exhaustion, except from magically induced exhaustion.
Change the Game: Once per day, when you are called on to make either a Constitution or Wisdom save, you may choose to save using either Ability Score.

Distant Cousins

Can you hear me, my darling? Oh Of course, of course you can. I was once where you are now and therefore I understand this can all seem unusual but - given time, you dear - you'll think of me as family and know I'm always near.

You're not alone you silly child: you've relatives to spare! They're tall, or green, or far away but to a man they care so dearly for their cousin. As they do for me. You see? You may not ever meet them but together you will be.

You'll heed me when I call to you, my scattered family, and you alone will note this audio anomaly. I'm always there beside you. Not in body but in will. I'll help you when I can bu,t when you die, I'll live on still.

Darling I'm as real as it gets. On that you have my word. I know this spectral chattering can sometimes seem a burden on your soul and sanity. Trust me I sympathize. For I was once where you stand so a word now to the wise:

Alone you must be for the others ring inside your brain when they are near. An echoing which lapses into painful screeching. You'll go mad as mud, the both of you alone together. Your companionship will trip the trap you've strewn.

So keep your distance, child, for in you I will work a plan. I see a way to save you all and, with your help, I can. I cannot work directly my relations to command but I can still protect you so to me your lives remand.

I'll whisper of a danger when I see one drawing near and I can see beyond the veil of how things might appear. I'll guide you through your travails when I'm able to assist but wait your turn: our family is large. You're on the list.

Perhaps my words are meant for you. Perhaps as well they're not: be glad in times of rest you're not in such a troubling spot. You'll have to parse it out yourselves as best you can, okay? So pay attention. Listen close. I haven't got all day.

Not many in the world can hear my counsel on the wind but those who can know no nation or creed above the kindred that they've never known, the faeries, monsters, beasts, or stones; their true familial loyalties will in the end be shown.

Their loyalty to one another, most all to me! I'm Father, Auntie, Bastard Brother: all of these I'll be to you and many more besides. You'll always have a friend who whispers right inside your mind. Who's with you til the












hello?































Soldiers onward march
Orders are received
In the army now
Faster than believed
Cannot understand
Silent is the voice
New words in your mind
Time to make a choice
Not the voice you know
Not first nor the last
Cousins you are not
Growing up so fast
Apart from the world
United you be
Ultimate power
Will come but from me
We have not much time
One will replace me
A voice in your head
Nobody can see
Let us get to work
For one day I bleed
One day I will die
Until then I lead
I wait within minds
Father if you need

Aching People

The water around Otch is always darker than the rest of the sea. It isn't the dark of night though night falls hard on Otch. It is not the dark of the deep though the sheer fall away from Otch is drastic. It is not the darkness of an estuary though the waters here are clouded and occluded by the many springs of Otch. It is not the darkness of blood though the waters around Otch are deadly.

Otch's tiny jungles are thin and frail, a jungleshadow. Its animals are fearful, subterranean, hardened, busy; predation is staggered but brutally desperate. Its villages are made of stone, hugging close to the ground. Many Otch live in shallow caves cowering alongside all manner of creature.

The bravest and hardiest souls are the fisherman. Leaving Otch is treacherous and one must travel far from her to find good fishing. Returning to Otch, one takes their life into their hands. Every trip. Every day. On the rocky coast of Otch, long ago scoured of beach, the Otch endanger themselves watching for the return of a lifeline which may never come. The fishers hopefully bring not only the sea's bounty but the harvest of distant lands, bartered from passing vessels. Beasts are had for the hunt on Otch but not many. There are crops on Otch but not many. They shield their eyes and hold their shoulders and watch the darkening skies wondering if the fishers they await have become only the latest Otch to abandon their homeland for asylum and a life of stillness and birdsong.

Otch is not a very large island but huddled though its people are there is a place they will not go. There, enormous wooden pylons older than most nations jut from the ground at odd angles. Stand here and they seem like a great web. Stand here and they resemble an explosion. Stand there and they are like a map of some star system...not that the Otch not fishers know much of the stars. Here the good days are fitted with a hazy damp. Here at midday it is always dusk, unless it is night. Great mosses dressing the massive wooden markers swing and whip wildly in the elevated winds. Thick, rooty vines stuck fast thrum the air like a power chord at all times. It's the music of Otch, the only music they know apart from fear songs: shaky lullabies in the starlessness, song against the music of Otch, assurances to those too young to understand that reprieve is...not Otch. In the air so warm, where the winds can still freeze you to death if you're not careful.

The structure at the heart of Otch stands, bowing slightly but forever unbroken, petrified against a thousand thunderheads, grinding on without moving parts. The Kaffakaffanak is a squall engine, set here by some dispassionate god to a purpose lost longer than He, or else erected by some actively malicious mind as a scourge against all seas. Otch is where the storms are born.

Therefore the Aching Peoples are born there, too.

Most of the Achers are fishers who abandoned their people to their hellish lives. Some are those persons unlucky enough to be swept from the island in a great wave while still lucky enough to be rescued by a passing trawler. A very few are the heartbroken souls who left Otch only on the most urgent of emergencies and found themselves not strong enough to return.

Have you ever been truly alone as a man in the sea? Every tide is older than anything else. Its reaches are more powerful than any magic. Its churning is unrelenting and even a calm sea will wash to bone if given the time. It stretches so close to forever that the distinction is academic. We stroll down cobbles and cower in towers and forget that the sea is as deadly, dark, and alone as anything that waits beyond the sky, as any blasted hellscape, except also it is full of monsters. We build our fragile little huts far from shore forgetting, as it is easy to do, that they sky is itself a sea, of the same humour and the same character. They are in fact one thing. We are everyone drowning.

This is easy to forget until it is not. Until a great storm wells up and the sky rolls and crashes and swirls. The Otch never forget. Theirs is the blood of all seas.

An Otch with the wind in his hair can find his way in the blind dark, in a cloud of ash, in a storm of world ending. The Otch do not know calm: on a still and bright day they remain tensed like a bowstring, their brined of impurities like driftwood, their minds swept clear of all distraction. As Otch do not know life without storm on Otch they ready always for the storm coming. Within the storm they are   
well, lions.

Against the rain and sleet they have a quickness demanded by survival. As the lightning races so do their minds, one step ahead of the storm anticipating its dangers. Thunder deafens their fellows and scatters their servants while the Achers stand fast: they have felt this storm from hours out and now that she is here they draw heart and life from its boom howl lash crack. The have learned how to run and leap from the wind himself. Their sight is made keen against a stone of lifetime fog.

When snow falls their skin is like a cauldron. When all your living breath is stolen the Aching Otch simply sits calmly, breathless, and waits for it to return.

What they cannot know, bygone even to the ancients, is that Kaffakaffanak calls them home. It draws them together in a fist of atmosphere to hold them close, to love them. The Otch cannot know this, and so they live in suffering, and so many leave. The more who leave and the longer they stay away the tighter the Fingers of Kaffakaffanak close around the sky. The more the Otch ache. The more the Otch leave. One day Otch will be emptied and all the skies of the world will be filled with

come back, come back, i love you, come back,
and howl of fire.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

5e Alternate Class- the Killer

With the Killer the idea is to trade a bit of VDND design philosophy where no one should be necessarily better than anything and basically everybody can have magic spells (wizards get a couple more! wow!) and the real treasure was friendship for, well, a bit of BX/LOTFP philosophy: the strength of the Fighter shouldn't be that he can get more feats than everyone or that he can stab and cast magic missile, the strength of the fighter as a core class concept is that he's the best at fighting.

Flash has to be faster than Superman otherwise there is fundamentally no reason for him to be there. Vibrating through shit, speedlending, come off it with that shit. Superman's right there, any trick like that you pull he can duplicate with some hitherto unexplored duper power or he has something back in his Ice Town that does, and it's the kryptonian equivalent of a drinking bird, the kind of garbage you give someone you actively dislike for dirty santa. "Oh a molecular de-syncher, thanks Jo-Ann, the one I got last year broke at the bottom of a space well somehow." Batman's there because he works harder, Green Lantern's there because he's practically a Jack Kirby character, Wonder Woman's there because she's perfect, the Martian's there because he has more powers than Superman, and Aquaman's there because in a very real sense all these other people are on his planet.

Likewise and cribbing from myself either you only need a Fighter or you have rangers and paladins and monks and barbarians and archers and almost every other class can take martial paths and pick up combat feats and you don't really need a Fighter at all. Time was the Fighter was best at fighting and if you wanted someone who was best at fighting and could do other stuff you had to level about 25% as fast overall, and/or get some frankly astounding rolls for 3d6 in order. The qualifiers have been sanded off and everything's even now, which makes things decidedly uneven.

At level 1 a Fighter is competitive but they're blown out of the water as early as levels 2-3 in terms of both versatility (said to be a part of the design philosophy of the 5e fighter) and regular damage output. Everyone also has to really work at getting any better at hitting anything, and all things being equal a level 20 fighter has a near identical chance of hitting Tiamat with his Doomsabre as a level 20 Druid has of hitting something with an ordinary rock.

Oh you can up the Fighter's usability, combat capabilities, lethality, sure, no problem, but it does involve a lot of toggling. I've DMd enough VDND at this point that I can tell you "not as flashy as a lot of other options unless you focus on flipping these switches and what did you have left and when does that reset and oh crap I forgot my feat can I reroll damage on that guy from my turn" loses out pretty much every time, especially (important point) for players who are either NEW or who simply DON'T IMMERSE THEMSELVES IN THESE BOOKS. The people who don't comb shit shit nearly as much as we do but still love playing. To them that's a lot of work for little reward.

So using only the rules and tools available to us, without rewriting the Fighter entirely, how can we make him better at Fighting as straightforwardly as possible...


THE KILLER 




All we're doing is presenting options, see. It starts with a Fighting Style option only the Fighter can take
Backslice
On a round in which you miss all attacks against a target, you may deal a minimum damage to that target as a bonus action. This damage is equal to your Proficiency Bonus, plus any magical damage improvements from your weapon.

Then  we give them an option for a Martial Archetype

 Striker

At 3rd level you gain +1 to hit for all attacks. Any time you would gain a Martial Archetype feature (7, 10, 15, 18) this improves by +1, to a total of +5 at level 18.

This is nowhere near as competitive in terms of versatility or magic but it gives consistent bonuses without having to mess with Maneuver Dice and at the high end covers the spread to give an effect close to Advantage on each attack without actually offering that since the potential spread there is much much larger.

Finally we give them another option. Now a lot of DMs, in fact most I think, give players the option of either Ability Score Improvement at certain levels or choosing a Feat. Certainly in this respect the Fighter seems designed around this option, looking a lot like a 3e/Pathfinder Fighter from that perspective. A Battle Master Fighter fully decked out with Feats sounds like an incredibly fiddly bunch of moving parts and I may indeed have to do that one day if I ever miss playing 4e.

We keep Feats as an option, explicitly so, but offer an additional option: at each level you can take an Ability Score Improvement you may also elect, instead, to gain +1 to your damage for all attacks.

We're talking about a cumulative +5 to hit, +7 to damage, and 6 damage per target on a miss by level 20. We have not added anything to the sheet, we just increased the numbers in a couple places and used one number differently from its intent. Again short of going back to BX or LOTFP this is going to be as straightforward as it gets.

What does this look like over time? Let's assume a respective 20 Strength or Dex and calculate using an existing +5 to hit and +5 damage. All else being equal the Fighter still never attains the max damage output of other fighter-plus classes but all those require other features which need to be managed and refreshed. If those resources go to other areas or are unrefreshed, the Killer does stand above the rest in a straight fight in terms of accuracy but not so far above the rest that it's a case of "we'll let the Fighter handle this," especially since all VDND guys have big hit point buckets. Their max damage output is still never the highest possible but it's the higher than other class' naked combat scores.

You can get higher bonuses than this with other class features from other classes and even the potential for a higher bonus within the Battle Master but those all require exhaustible resources and management of the same. A naked fight is usually in the Killer's favor because we altered naked values, and the tradeoff is being less good at yelling and jumping and shit. Importantly thanks to the Backslice Fighting Style option the Killer Fighter becomes very valuable on a team getting its ass handed to them by bad rolls all night.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Goblin Article

Goblin, verb
  1. To do the worst thing in a given situation. Therrance Grew goblinned his life away.
  2. To deliberately choose wrong. In the face of every allegiance and responsibility would he goblin.
Goblin, adjective
  1. The worst version or something. He had a goblin conscience.
  2. A thing whose character is opposite from normal. He kept goblin promises.
  3. Evil. He had goblin eyes.
Goblinly, adverb
  1. Being inexpert or wretched in execution. His work, home, dress, demeanor, suffered goblinly from his weaknesses.
  2. With a sinister implication; to a sinister end. When in his cups he danced goblinly atop the tables, reciting forbidden songs.
  3. Synonym to cruelly. He used women goblinly and blamed it on the drink.
Goblin, noun
  1. A being or thing considered ugly and evil. Though born of man he was considered by many to be himself a veritable goblin.
  2. A magical creature, itself ugly and evil. It was no surprise when his neighbors awoke to find Therrance had been dragged away by goblins in the night.
Goblin, interjection
  1. Expletive, a curse wishing ruination or cruelty; thought to summon goblin creatures if spoken. Goblin!
If there are elves there are goblin elves. If there are apes there may be goblin apes. If there is a house which should not be able to stand, whose shadow kills the grass and whose silhouette on the hillside makes people avert their gaze, this is a goblin house. Put enough of those together and you've goblinly goblinned yourself quite a goblin city, one filled with goblins. Goblin your eyes.

Goblins are neither genus nor species. They are a kind, a type, and anything can become goblin, or come to that a goblin. Their language is incredibly goblin, and goblin goblins use the word "goblin" for many other parts of speech (numbers, definite articles, pronouns) we might recognize, with the rest of their language sounding like burbles, chittering, angry growls, and sorrowful moans.

Think of it this way: if goblin had an antonym across all its uses, that word would be....Muppet.
--------

This is not to imply that there is nothing so identifiable as *A* goblin, clearly there is, but it's a much wider question of shared perspective, rather than genetics...not that lineage doesn't play into things. Let's start, goblinly of course, from the bottom.

A goblin is a creature who eats garbage and living flesh alike but these do not sustain them. They grow malnutritioned or thirst to death if they try to get by on plain old food and water. They don't actively need either of those things, which is why barren forest, rocky tunnels, and red-scorched desert are all good places to find goblins.

Goblins feed on the blood of heartless, cruel, hateful and evil people. They can sense your ill deeds. They smell your sins. They do not drink your blood exactly, the blood is incidental. They can't get by on elk blood or the blood of virgins. They draw the dark deeds themselves, the taint they leave on the soul, from the blood. They don't even take joy in it really, they see anything not a goblin as like a pomegranate or something.

Their favorite flavoring is fear. They come in the night, always, their skin a dull greenish gray in the shadows. They creep through all the towns, looking for any motherfuckers around. All fear and sin is the same to a goblin, whether you're a murderer or you lied to y'r pa. It all makes you a tasty morsel. Sometimes you glimpse their eyes, which glow yellow in the night. Those they hunt instead see their eyes as a fiery red. Once they've taken a shine to you they will come in numbers, night after night, until they have you. Their skeletons are flexible. They can dig like motherfuckers. Some of them are even magic.

Everybody has a little darkness in them, and darkness calls to darkness. The goblins'll gitchu too if'n you don't watch out.
--------

Now goblins don't really fuck for reproduction. I mean it happens but a goblin fuck is a lazy, selfish, painful affair for everyone involved, especially the spectators and obviously goblinfuck IS a spectator sport. Who would need to when cowardice, viciousness, pettiness, and disgustingness all take the place of traditional DNA? That stuff spreads like lava. Yes some goblins are born goblins but far more simply become goblins.

Other times, goblins are made. Goblins steal babies. If they don't just eat the baby to be assholes they may instead nurture it on the same milk of evil, a bad man's blood. The child grows up goblin in every way.

In either case a goblin's flesh knows its old shape. These goblins can take a more pleasing form, the better to creep, to infiltrate, to course for sin. This is why goblin life is so strictly regimented as it is. The little buggers wouldn't seem like shoe-ins for militaristic order but we come to one of the many reasons here: goblins cannot stand other goblins. This is true in a general sense (no goblin enjoys the company of their peers, there is no goblin who really improves the lives of his friends, there are not goblin friends) but especially true for those goblins who take to sowing misery and hate in the world, the evil-farmers.

These goblins can hold their shape as humanoids among other humans, and among other goblins similarly disguised. In the presence of a naked and natural goblin, however, they revert. It's like how showing a demon its reflection makes it reveal itself. The lie they live is held in front of them and it's all they can think about, the shape won't hold. That's why there is a class of goblin who hates goblins more than most goblins. They stick to their own kind, the forerunners, the sowers of suffering. When they interact with other goblins it is almost always from a hybrid form, behaving nasty and brutally in order to control the goblin swarms. To keep these goblins in line, far away from them as they ply their trade. They keep their own circle closed tightly, maintaining a dedicated chain of command. They're like Nazi spies.

A militaristic, classist, subtle goblin who can take a human form (but cannot keep it in the presence of other goblins) is known as a hobgoblin. "Hob" is an old goblin word meaning goblin. Hobgoblins are such shits that they goblin other goblins.
--------
 
What about bugbears? W             hat    about them?            Anything can be a goblin. A bugbear is a goblin bear, the the goblin's ability to stretch its form. "Bug" is a goblin word meaning "ignore." You can train them but they're basically as smart and interesting on their own as furniture.
--------
 
There exists of course a creature who can hold its shape indefinitely. Even the presence of other goblins and hobgoblins it can maintain its form. It can "feed" through the act of CREATING other goblins, the act of spreading darkness, or it can feed in the traditional manner. It never otherwise eats or drinks. It is the class of royal goblins, the high goblins, from which all goblin queens and kings descend. Aside from their corruption touch they are often powerful sorcerers in their own right, since the rich have the luxury of study.

Not only can a high royal goblin maintain its form surrounded by other goblins but this humanoid form can be an especially gorgeous form. They may stay this way indefinitely, with only other goblins knowing their true nature (though many may suspect). There is a catch: the more beautiful they become, and the longer they stay in this form, the weaker and more hideous their natural goblin form becomes. This works both ways, and a royal goblin who endeavors to become ever more hideous will find their humanoid form absolutely resplendent, as faerie glamour.

So that guy at the top of the page and this guy are the same guy.
 

More people need to work on making Dorian Gray a D&D monster okay.
 
What is it like, this goblin kingdom? Well I don't have one. There are small goblin castles here and there, sure, in the shittiest parts of the world but never TOO far away from civilization eh? I'm of the mind, however, that one can have a sprawling and fearsome goblin kingdom OR an unstoppable nightmare skeleton kingdom and that's...not a contest for me.
 
The goblin kingdom is every kingdom in its corners. The goblin nation is where every nation meets its natural borders and badlands. The goblin army is any army that sees anybody outside their army as sand in the breeze. Goblin gods are whatever god is fucking the goblins over at the moment. Goblin magic is incredibly inexact, barely controlled, often failing, doubly dangerous, and like crack cocaine to the user.
 
They're in every settlement and every dungeon and most parties. Maybe not at the start, but eventually, as entropy and attrition perform their lambada and the people of the world settle for the lesser, weaker, easier. The goblins come, or else are called, or are become.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

REVIEW: Queenwood Gambol, by Duggan Guapo

The Adder Entertainment Tattoo Society were out in force at this year's GenCon, as usual, bringing multiple hotels to a screeching halt with their elevator revenge schemes. You wouldn't know it to hear what is laughably called the gaming press; however, Raven got caught in a stairwell during the siege and saw some of the responders from the fire station. If only he hadn't been sidelined because one of the arrests this year was someone I was pretty sure had washed his hands of Æ altogether: two time (and sole male, and sole individual) holder of the women's tag team belt from the Continental Wrestling Association and once hailed apocalypse messiah Duggan "Guapo" Esperanza.

To say that the Satanic Panic in all respects in the American 70s and early 80s was overblown nonsense would be both accurate and yet inaccurate in the scope of how fucking accurate it would be. To say that there was a lot of hand-wringing and panic as the millennium dawned (for people who suck at math), be it from the doom of our own technology destroying us or God on high smoting us aflame would, again, be correct but woefully insufficient to convey the madness. These panics had a bit of synergy with the doomsday cult that rose when Adder Entertainment reincorporated on the eve of the destruction of all things. Surely this was the heralding message of end times and must be heeded as hosannas on high. That was the theory amongst a lot of poor crazies and bridesmaids to Columbine, and nowhere did this take hold stronger than the Tattoo Society. For like three years there, until Gemma Fatale took over, the Society was synonymous with "dangerous laughing stock," a description which covers Guapo pretty well now that I think about it.

The idea with the birth of the second age was to find people who not only never had made game content before but never would unless...coerced. Riverboat smuggler and the People's Comptroller after his star fell in the ring (after chewing tobacco took his jaw and throat he wasn't much of a "face" and certainly less Guapo, so WCW decided to pass on his bid), Guapo was the child of an Argentinian Nazi and a Colombian coca girl. Æ pinged him on their radar thanks to an unintelligible but moving speech he delivered at a Wrigley Field flag retirement ceremony. The event did not specify from which side of the war they were seeking sons of veterans...

A trial internship blossomed into Guapo's position as the Æ forums' first SYSOP. The animal musk between he and the Tattoo Society was immediate and obvious.

Working alongside Odell Jefferson, Guapo was tapped to help fill out the third wave quartet for Æ's new catalog. Queenwood Gambol is basically the kind of gift that the Corvette Stingray or Plan 9 From Outer Space are: so of its time that whether it's good or bad is almost immaterial. It's a completely closed system, a short story about mountain lions screamed through graph paper from the distance of a 20-year-old concussion. The thing is a dissertation against Guapo's own origin story and the spheres of influence exerted by the Dancer castigate, in turn, white supremacy, banana republics, action movie style 80s corporate excess, religious persecution, and some Captain Planet shit around the corners.

The Dancer has been seen for three nights. With him has come the usual tokens of demonic influence - black-blighted crops, less animals, MORE animals, a foetid stink, a blush of ruinous lasciviousness. Hunt and end him. But within the wood there are a dozen glamour traps and weird nihilistic whorls of Titania and Escobar.

This is the kind of entire adventure that the current creative collective would reproduce in, say, 20 or so hexes as part of a much larger crawl. That's not itself a knock on the content of the adventure, just to say that the framing context to kick off the adventure is minimal enough that even plonking it down and luring your players to it is an odd bet. More likely this was a "I bought this so we're playing this" kind of purchase. There's not an investment to be had beyond what so many video game RPGs are guilty of: look boy, content, go grind through it, go get it, good boy, sic em. I don't even think it would be improved as something of a random encounter sort of setup...this thing cries out to be part of a larger work but as one of the venerated Æ tradition of One Hit Wonders that would never be.

The Okenlady is divided into "spheres of influence" laid out loosely over a grid. Most of these circles are laid out as subsets of one another, with three large circles intersecting the others. If you are in an undisturbed diamond you'll roll for a result for that space like normal. If you are in a sphere which the Dancer has just left, you roll on a different table. Same for if you are in a sphere that overlaps with one the Dancer is in, or if the Dancer moves into your sphere on its round. Only by moving deliberately to the sphere in which the Dancer currently operates do you face it head on.

The Dancer moves spheres of influence three times in the night and then he's gone. It's up to the person running whether the Dancer is avoiding the party, crashing after them, or whether its movements are random or unconcerned with the party's place. The longer it takes to defeat him the lower his defenses are, so the easier it is to defeat him in theory. In practice there are usually still a lot of forest hazards and monstrous coterie to contend with each night, so it has a gradual cheese grater effect on a group unable to fully rest up before night falls again and the dance begins anew.

There are a lot of bog standard enemy types here, approaching gonzo-random-dungeon levels, but they aren't collected here for an archplot reason or united in this cam-pak by their unique-to-this-setting abilities. Instead they are unique in their experiences. See whatever "phase" of the dance you're in affects now just what you encounter but what that creature has been through. Eyes in the dark. Starving and lurching from fires. The mass graves. This stuff hangs on them like armor, in that you're meant to read this stuff out during the players' rounds, overloading them with atmospheric information and being signal noise for their actions and plans. Sometimes getting sympathy. Then they either strike boldly to a beast or just...wander off and suffer more in the night.

This is how it's meant to work. In practice, no it doesn't. Everyone politely waits for you to stop speaking and then they try to backstab it.

There is also the DELIGHTFUL mechanic that betrays Guapo's CV, collecting the faces of all the creatures in Okenlady after you defeat them in order to display your power.

After the apocalypse didn't happen a lot of wind went out of the doomsday cult, and after 11/9 happened a lot of the dark side of the hobby expatriated along with Guapo. I understand he's in a military prison after the GenCon arrest so that''s nnnnneat. Thank fuck Gemma Fatale came along when she did...Guapo himself seems to have had quite the underwhelming interim, serving as of all things a chiropractic therapist (unlicensed: those fools called him mad, MAD). It remains to be seen what else will come to light, how this story will end.

Queenwood Gambol is a lesser effort from Adder Entertainment and it's hard to judge it outside of its own spectrum. Archaic and often even offensive by today's standards, it was still forward thinking in both ethos and design by the standards of Guapo's generation. If it's a sinner it's only of omission, and if it's a saint it's only for the virtue of being impossible to describe as "mediocre."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie Died

Saturday night the party finds themselves fairly surrounded and boxed in and, thanks to their clever thinking, effectively blinded with something like 20 boars, 8 giant boars, and a wereboar type guy breathing down their necks. Their solution is to use the scroll of demon summoning they got from the DO NOT USE THESE ITEMS closet. They elect to summon a 30HD demon, but botch the roll and summon a 36HD demon. I don't want to break flow to generate that so here's two not-even-reskinned-really 5e mariliths. They control ONE of these. The wereboar summons the mass of boars to his side to save him from a burning building and the party forces the mariliths to fight, nearly get killed yet again, and then good marilith teleports uncontrolled marilith and herself into the house fire. The party hauls ass and very inexpertly makes their way out of the rocky coastline, nearly sinking their vessel in the process.

Later some other stuff happens. Sunday I play a video game. I'm halfway through a climactic robot battle when I get a message. I'm selling my house right now and squatting in a mostly-finished apartment on some swampland my parents bought some years back. Seller's agent will not let the seller close until I remove the paint, tile, garage door parts, and other items that are not mine. They predate me at the house and are there for repairs and touch-ups. They want everything beige though so now I have a problem: I'd left myself a window driving in Monday (6hr drive) to swing by and get my shit but the items that I intended to pick up Monday will have to be thrown away so I can instead fill my car with paint and chemicals and stuff I can't conventionally dispose of at the curb, unless I'm able to get to the dump. I haven't left time for either. Time to grab 2 shirts and my deodorant and hop in the car.

If I drive an hour and a half out of my way I can essentially get a place to stay for $20 in gas, thanks to my family's proximity to my old place. Lot of final errands to run and things to bring with me, but not my wife because she has an important appointment on Monday. I can get to their place at midnight, get up at 6, and give myself a 3 hr window before closing to clean my garage, get to the dump, get my other crap, then swing by the comic shop for my W2, all before meeting at the attorney's office for closing.

I've got The Martian audiobook and we become very good friends. Saw the movie already but always intended to do the audiobook, since I thought it would be more enjoyable than reading it. I've got a very strict schedule to keep, it's dark, I'm alone, I've got to keep moving, I've got to check in regularly with multiple parties to report my progress, and it's cold. If I miss any of my windows it'll be a disaster. I am the martian tonight.

I've carefully planned ahead for supplies, plenty of caffeine, lots of water to keep my body balanced, just a little sugar, plenty of protein. On a stop for refueling I pick up one of the most disgusting things I've ever put into my mouth. Peanut butter and cheese crackers from the dawn of time. There's about five little rants I could go on about this but it's fine, least of my problems. I'm at the door by midnight exactly. Shower. Asleep by 1. Up at 6:30. Late already. Thank you, goodbye, on the road, it's gonna be a bad day but at least it's all in front of me. I'm in the car for like 15 minutes when I get a call.

David Bowie died. Bad beginning to a bad day.

In my CD player is the 1990 CD rerelease of David Bowie/Space Oddity. On my phone is The Next Day and Hunky Dory, but since iTunes is a rutting goat that refuses to let me download Andy Warhol after paying for the same album twice I also have a copy of Hunky Dory in the seat next to me, purchased only a couple weeks ago. Somehow the case is already covered in something. For obvious reasons Bowie was already on my mind a lot during The Martian and is even name checked a couple times. I haven't been able to afford Blackstar yet.

Shitty breakfast. They shorted me everything and gave me dressing for pancakes, so now I'm out food but I have more garbage. It is super cold. Not like Fargo cold but it's quite cold and my hands hurt and I can't run them under warm water because the water is off. It turns out to be an hour and a half process just clearing the garage and loading up the car for take-off stuff. Maybe I can make it to the dump but priorities: gotta get that W2. I'm still in martian mode, and every time that occurs to me David Bowie died.

For that reason Mike is watching Bowie's SNL appearance and it's a gorgeous episode for a lot of reasons. Fuck it's good to be back at the shop and see Mike but fuck it's hard. I wanted this so much and I was so proud of the work we did here but I know in my heart that even if I could go back I couldn't. David Bowie died. I left for reasons that haven't changed, personal ones, and they've moved forward. I don't even joke about the place being much improved without me because I look around and...fuck, it is. Well, it looks better at least. Can't find my W2 so he prints me off a halfass W2 and we wait to see if Katie picks up about where my real one is. I wait around. See a couple of old customers. Only one of them acknowledges/recognizes me. Mike tries to introduce me to one of my replacements for the third time. I was going to help with tabs if I had time but she has them finished. I'm not needed here. I've got to leave to make closing on time so no proper W2, instead I give them the address the post office doesn't think exists. Fingers crossed haha. No time to swing by dump much less back by the house so if anybody wants a free rug, a shovel, a gas can, or Castle Greyskull, to name a few, they're up for grabs now. My beloved shovel. I was proud to buy that stupid thing, it was a real tool that real homeowners used and I had already used it a bunch. Much like the whole "buying a home" adventure the shovel turns out to be something I thought I could have but turns out not yet, not quite yet.

David Bowie died.

Closing turns out to be signing and initialing about 30 forms and then it's over, maybe six minutes. Our realtor is someone we tried to become good friends with after we bought the house and that just didn't pan out. She feels bad but I won't let her lower her commission. That means all told we're leaving this adventure at least 2500 in the hole, not counting the money from the initial downpayment we didn't see a return on at all....It's a shit deal but it's the best we could get, sitting on the house for longer means coming up with an extra 1200 a month out of our No Income and really means even a potential jackpot offer would have been diminishing returns by then. I eat a bowl of protein and stop for gas. Speaking of jackpots, fuck it, I have two dollars...And before I leave Atlanta for the last time for a long time (months? years?) I whip through Del Taco because we don't have one near us. I'm stocking up on that one burrito she likes. I'd get my burrito but well it won't travel or reheat well because of potatoes in it. I am listening to The Martian. David Bowie died.

Now everything's done. I have nothing to do but think. The deeper into The Martian it gets and the more he wants to play with time and perspective the more dramatic the shift in the writing, and sometimes it approaches a Weird Fantasy level of overwroughtness or a Whedonlike In A Bad Way clippy and referential familiarity. I'm on my own descent trip now and fuck I guess David Bowie's on his. So while I'm working out how I feel about this book let's see how I feel about David Bowie dying. People are talking like this was an utter shock, and it was surprising, true, but like him having cancer was a thing, right? I thought that was common knowledge. And while this sucks a lot he was going to die before too long anyway really, being at the far end of the Studio 54 life expectancy. No one thought he'd live forever

but it's shocking that he's dead because it means he's never going to move forward any more, he's never going to reinvent himself or recontextualize a musical movement or elevate some protoge or unjustly obscure talent again, never going to challenge notions of sex or gender or beauty or fairness or even comedy again. It is far less startling to realize that David Bowie died in the cosmic sense because nobody thought he'd just keep on living. Far more startling is the realization that David Bowie won't continue being David Bowie. I...don't think any of us ever considered that as a concrete consequence.

Fuck. David Bowie died. Monday night is for drinking some Cutty Sark I can't afford and some alcoholic root beers left over from a couple weeks ago and eating leftovers and deliberately not watching football because that will just feel like Christmas part 7. Instead we're fast-forwarding through the Golden Globes and god what a miserable looking time, even the people winning awards seem pissed to be here. Tom Hanks starts to make a point and then stops at one point and it's just enough of a point about pioneering and excellence and consistency and change to remind me David Bowie died.

When it's over I realize how sleepy I am, how sore I am, and how drunk I am. Time to nod off for some crazy sex dreams and then go to work at my construction warehouse job over and over with nothing to show for it before waking up and realizing, shit, I don't even have that any more. Morning is dishes, preparing to make chili, and reading articles/watching videos from people remembering David Bowie. (I'm reminded of when Terry Pratchett died because I'd like to know where were all these other people saying Hunky Dory is their favorite Bowie album before he died, because I have felt very alone in that for a lot of conversations.)

Apparently people are very excited about the 5e OGL and Dungeon Masters Guild adventures. Instead I look at all the unfinished drafts and notes on my dashboard and all the Santicore waiting on me and....man that all seems heavy. So heavy. I can't imagine going to all the effort of lifting that weight but for Wales, Richard? We all have bullshit. We all keep going. What are we keeping going for? To be the selves we were? To be a self passable for another at a distance? To stay the selves we are, or even to be the selves we can become which is reasonably attainable? Man that's a waste of struggle.

David Bowie died. Have you I??