Tuesday, January 29, 2019

XXR Micro Edition

Dwarf Pioneer
Thief/Specialist Scout
Halfling Hunter

You can gain the benefits of a laborer (+1 to Strength or Constitution), a scholar (+1 to Intelligence or Wisdom), or a rascal (+1 to Charisma or Dexterity). You can pick a job and gain the social benefits and pay from that job for as long as you show up to it. You retain any knowledge from your previous jobs if you've done them for more than a level. If you are a normal person you can get a good mount and saddle for free, and if you come from within the world you start with an extra 100g or 100s or whatever the standard.

Spells are granted randomly from any level. Everyone can ignore their background bonus (above) and begin knowing 1 spell. Everyone can share spells. When you level up you can choose to gain normal benefits or gain a "free spell" and learn a new spell. Otherwise casting a spell costs half your HP or a sacrifice with HD equal to or greater than your character level. Spells may be discovered as reward.

Guns include single-barrel shotguns, revolvers, and single shot rifles, by order of effective range. They all do 1d8 damage, shotguns do damage in a cone, and revolvers are easier to conceal. Rolling a 1 means your gun jams and it takes a Medium Save to unjam it. Failing that save means it needs repair.

Saves are Easy 13, Medium 15, Hard 17. Pioneers and Hunters get +2 to saves, everyone gets their Charisma bonus to all saves. There's no AC, someone need only meet or exceed your Constitution. Initiative is resolved in order of Dexterity but remember everything happens in a round simultaneously. HD are serial rather than cumulative; whenever you're reduced to 0HP you must make a Medium Save or bleed out, and if you succeed you can roll one of your accumulated HD to get your wind again. Failure means bleeding away your Strength to 0, at which point you die: Strength is lost at 1pt/round, regained at 1pt/day.

Every time you eat human flesh you gain +1 to melee damage and -1 to saves. Whenever you cast a spell, eat human flesh, or roll a saving throw against a spell (whatever the outcome) you roll a save immediately after any penalties have been applied. On a failed save your sanity slips and it lets something in, into your mind or the world.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Green Room Random Pregens

Related image

Randomly generated using the previous post alone, these are relatively accomplished characters but hardly on par with Marvel Super-Heroes, you know? That doesn't mean they can't get up to some stuff. I just charged 10pts for every Talent, if that ever ends up breaking a game I'll let you know.


...an accomplished hand to hand specialist with no superhuman abilities or connections to speak of.

F EX20
A GD10
S GD10
E GD10
R GD10
I RM30
P GD10

HP 50 KP 50
PP: 0 RP: 0

Martial Arts ABCDE (this is all of them in the book, worth 50pts total)

Lt. Reynard

...an Interpol alum with special weapons training and access to unique resources

F GD10
A GD10
R GD10

HP: 30 KP: 20
PP: 0 RP: EX20

Body Armor 50


Doctor Archangel Ferrum

....a genius for robotics and weaponsmithing, public face of AI relations

R UN100
P GD10

HP: 8 KP: 112
PP: 30 RP: 0


...a student of human nature whose trancendental meditations open a channel to psychic powers

E GD10
R GD10
I GD10
P RM30

HP: 28 KP: 52
PP: 0 RP: 0

Telepathy RM30

First Aid

Beast King

...basically the sasquatch from Darkstalkers if he was Namor, swaddled in sub-zero

F GD10
A GD10
S RM40
E RM40
I GD10

HP: 100 KP: 20
PP: 0 RP: 0
Energy Sheathe- Cold EX20


Simon(e) Says

..."STOP." Get tagged and you're frozen in place while this mutant's HP just increases

F EX20
A GD10
S GD10
E GD10
I EX20
P GD10

HP: 50 KP: 40

Energy Vampire- Kinetic AM5



...a mystically-bound force for good whom shadows don't touch, most dangerous in sunlight

I GD10
P GD10

HP: 24 KP: 26
PP: 0 RP: 0

Luck GD10
Energy Absorption- Light GD10
Enchantment RM30


...a bio-luminous crustacean with a hunger for human culture

F GD10
A RM30
S GD10
E EX20
I GD10

HP: 70 KP: 20
PP: 0 RP: 0

Body Adaptation- Amphibious PO4
Energy Emission- Electric TY6


...test pilot of an experimental slip suit just out of community college, with nothing to look back for

F GD10
A GD10
R GD10

HP: 32 KP: 28
PP: 0 RP: 0

Body Armor EX20
Super Senses- Xray Only GD10+1CS
Phasing GD10


....a theatrically charged mentor whose powers only work in darkness

P EX20

HP: 22 KP: 32

Body Adaptation- Blackout PO4
Confusion TY6
Telekinesis TY6


Creepy Crawly

...whose skin is lots of purple rubber tendrils holding together real tight, unethically transformed and making the best of it


HP: 22 KP: 12
PP: 0 RP: 0

Armor Skin GD10
Elasticity TY6
Natural Weaponry- Tentacles GD10


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Green Room Powers Table

Remember you start with 50 pts. to fill out your FASERIP but you can backfill that with whatever First, determine whence your powers are borne. You can also put power points into your Body Armor or the strength of your Enchantment if you get those results. Roll 1d10:
  1. Body Armor - like Iron Man or even Hawkgirl a little*
  2. Power Focus - like a Green Lantern ring or the Nega-Bands
  3. Implant - often cybernetic but a brain transplant or mutant organ would work too
  4. Catalyst - such as Bruce Banner getting angry or Night Girl from LOSH
  5. Symbiosis - another person or entity grants you your powers through some contact or psychic connection; includes Gestalt entities like Firestorm, as well as Venom
  6. Enchantment - Billy Batson or Jane Foster are big examples*
  7. Innate - like Skrull shapeshifting or Wonder Woman's godly strength
  8. Innate Mutation - like most every X-person
  9. Augmentation - whether it was radiation, the Terrigen mists, or being rewritten by the power cosmic, this is most superheroes
  10. Power Source - like Superman with the yellow sun, or Cloak with the darkforce dimension
If none of these apply to you then you just spend extra points on your FASERIP scores or use your points to buy Talents, or use your 100pts to charge up your Popularity or Resources instead as a unique bonus. Go be Shang Chi and Batwoman somewhere else for the rest of this table. For the rest of you, roll 1d10/2 rounded down + 1d10 for each power you're allowed to have. Your 1d10/2 roll corresponds to the category your powers come from while your 1d10 roll gives you a value.

1. Energy Powers
  1. Energy Detection
  2. Energy Absorption
  3. Energy Vampire
  4. Energy Control
  5. Energy Conversion
  6. Energy Sheathe
  7. Energy Investment
  8. Energy Emission
  9. Energy Body
  10. Energy Creation
2. Body Powers
  1. Super Senses
  2. Extra Senses
  3. Body Adaptation
  4. Extra Parts
  5. Armor Skin
  6. Physical Resistance
  7. Elasticity
  8. Size Change
  9. Shapeshift
  10. Regeneration
3. Psychic Powers
  1. Communicate With _____ (plants/animals/dead/tech/other)
  2. Psychic Detection
  3. Clairvoyance
  4. Telepathy
  5. Mind Probe
  6. Telekinesis
  7. Confusion
  8. Mind Blast
  9. Precognition
  10. Mind Control
4.  Movement Powers
  1. Stealth
  2. Speed
  3. Leaping
  4. Wall Walk
  5. Levitate
  6. Phasing
  7. Flight
  8. Teleportation
  9. Gateway
  10. Dimensional Shift
5. Combat Powers
  1. Resolve
  2. Martial Supremacy
  3. 360 Sense
  4. Berserker
  5. Natural Weaponry
  6. Danger Sense
  7. Weapon/Missile Creation
  8. Luck
  9. Photographic Reflexes
  10. Weakness Detection

I Have 1 Power, which I can spend up to 100 pts. on: You can select any power equal to or less than the value you rolled for a given category.
I Have 2 Powers, which I can spend up to a total of 50 pts. on between them: Your 1d10 value indicates what exact power you ended up with for a given category for each of your powers
I Have 3 Powers, which I can spend a total of 30 pts. on between them: All your powers are pretty weak, so you can choose one power from anywhere on the list.

Powers are paid for at the value given for a rank on the universal table. Remember whatever power points you don't spend can be funneled back into FASERIP or into Talents at 10 pts each. You can also always dump points into Karma. If you want to play multiple characters over time we can negotiate for powers that aren't on this list like invisibility and human duplication and stuff. This list isn't meant to be comprehensive and the pregenerated characters might be weirder but it's a good short answer for "how do I make my guy" with a good mix of the base powers lists and the Ultimate Powers entries, without getting too nuts.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

REVIEW: Optogram, by Ramona Romano


In my own experiments with the multi-phasic multi-table adventure I come inexorably back to the definitive Jade series cam-pak release and the definitive release for this particular genre, Optogram by Ramona Romano. Ramona's constipated oils and Hidetora flourishes lend an overtly oppressive air to what is a quintessential table-top experience shared by thousands of middle schoolers, the kind of things that Adder Entertainment's forebears and antecedents fair specialized in at a certain point: monster bad, go kill monster, killing good, drink wenches fortress proficiency 10 charges per day belt of ham insert coin to continue. I know that I've said before that all gods are monsters but it can't be stressed enough, especially when some gods are In The Bowl and some gods are books that make you too crazy for meat and some gods are just some assholes with ambition and a glass eye. Many monsters, then, are gods, and can be gods, and it's difficult to tell which denizen of some forgotten still-consecrated crypt have a spark of worship still to fire. The mummy's curse isn't in a door or an inscription or a box, it's in Too Near Mummy. Scooby-Doo knew this. Even D&D knew this

Were it not for the atmospheric oxygen-high art decco thule that Ramona posits the tale of the earthquake which exposed the final resting place of a dread black mass replete with horned snail feet ululating exaltation to nightmare schemas would be almost rote. Mind the cave ins, dodge the traps, beware the temple guardians something something Shrine of the Silver Monkey, big Mega Man empty boss room, magic weapon, outrun explosion, hero's welcome. Optagram begins and ends conventionally, albeit with a few twists along the way such as the grasshopper's ghosts, the faces you must break, reliefs screaming for exactly that, and Masaf's Crime. From there, it's a waiting game.

Aside 1: I have been a part of a gaming rota before. I never got my turn to run because I wanted to go last, and things petered out by then. That's how you know it was a real gaming group. I think I turned in a few nice turns in other people's games, though. I have at this point forgotten all the characters I've played but I can still recall most of them, many of them fondly. Though I feel like my Xanadu is some weirdly old school shape, a promontory made for bodies to throw themselves upon from the lofty heights of ambition, I have too much theatre dork and film school prick in me not to have a good time with the more performative (read: "disruptive") role-playing styles. This is why I'm an easy mark for new school fantasy games and idealistic story gaming even though I've only ever gotten blue balls from these.

Ramona Romano: Freelance, AE's own genius haranguer Boomer Kuwanger on the payroll to monster after a whole Lampoon's worth of Gamma Personalities, didn't get her start in game design. Bounty hunter to the rich and famous and drug czar to all your favorite cartoons, Ramona sponsored 2/3 of AE's staff over her tenure as they turned from one vice or another. Often to one vice or another. She was a smoke visualist and ambush bodypainter when Bloom Rose met her at a My Choice demonstration. It's been said in the intervening decades that there was never actually much evidence for people having burned bras as a major movement. Ramona Romano was, oh

an outlier.

In any experiment controls either succeed or fail. It depends how far they are pushed.

It is six months later. A year later. Maybe the same people are here, maybe only some are. Maybe it's a whole new group new town new decade. There are three to six pawn records but they did not come in the pak. They were generated by other hands in another time. You start to play. There is an earthquake, there is a sucking dark movement, there is Masaf's Crime. This is not the same tunnel. This is not the same quest. You are not the same persons. This is an echo off the walls of a deep, bottomless crypt made of oozing flesh. The gods experience time differently. Your pawns are the last thing the Decacus glimpsed before its death. Now you are fated to play out the moments leading up to its death forever. Not repeatedly, just forever. A conveyor belt of contrivances draws you inexorably toward either eternal suffering or eternal murdering. This is no longer about winning or getting it right. This is about escape. You've trained for this day your whole life: complete this adventure by breaking the railroad and jumping track to some trivial bullshit that will allow you to escape. The bars of your prison were forged in the blood of the players who came before you and set the incidents. Defy them and go into the empty spaces where the Vindicator must quickly draw the tygers before they run out of mappe. That's your only salvation.

Aside 2: I think when you are first getting into rpgs there is a resistance against pre-generated characters that is a little childish. It's that i-don't-need-training-wheels-i'm-a-big-kid instinct I guess? But pregens were never about saving you work. They were about saving you time. I've taught a lot of people to play games and if I took the time to teach every one of them everything they needed to know to build a character and then all the ins and outs of that process before we could jump in the line rock your body on time then I'd still be hand holding through the Caves of Chaos like an asshole and nobody would have been able to escape the star crashing ape face or raced against the invisible creeper or slipped barely through the whispery fingers of a grassy horror. You learn the game by playing the game, you can build your Hellboy knockoff with +97 Perception or whatever another time, it's your turn to whomp the bullfrog Dillon.

There's always a ticking clock. There'd better always be a ticking clock. It's a cute stunt, one I've obviously borrowed from before, but as a play experience it can get a little too gonzo too fast. The aesthetics are 40K but the gameplay runs Itchy and Scratchy. Once the players know they can do anything and should do anything the center stops holding. This has ruined many a night even when not specifically begged by the material, so getting permission to run wild kind of takes all the fun out of it. The perfect dead baby joke may (MAY) have merit but the perfect dead baby joke in Cards Against Humanity means fuck and all.

There's a line toward the end of The Hobbit that says something like "And so Bilbo and Gandalf traveled with Beorn back to the shire, fighting off the forces of the Necromancer along the way" or something like that. That one sentence contains promise cooler than almost anything else Tolkein ever wrote and cooler than most RPG module setups. There's a line toward the end of Optogram that says, "You are freed now with the spoils of your strange journey. You are the ghosts of women and men who still live. You are a god's epitaph writ thirty feet high. There is not room in the world for anything less than you. There is not room in the world for anything more than you." Kill your double. Become the monster. You're gods now, start acting like it. To me that means the only true victory over this cam-pak is to bring Masaf's Crime to the wider world of the campaign, return to your friends at the table, and lay waste to whatever progress they've achieved in the mean time. Wreck the whole damn campaign world and eat the normal progression of events like Cronos.

Apart from all the cues I've taken from Ramona's ouevre it seems like the rest of the folk at Adder Entertainment were big fans, even if the book's success is now largely synonymous with its ignominy. Both the Hall of the Deads and Lightning Rainbow Song contained allusions to this book, with Decacus appearing in the latter and "Optograms" (no formatting) appeared in the former. That entry in particular wasn't super useful, amounting to "here are some ways to think about numbers but maybe just go spend $9.31.73 on a different book." It became a tradition in the Second Age to dare the blood mirror of Bask in Hell in order to unleash one's own "Optogram" for the group to defeat, a kind of "my distended self image can beat up your dad" kind of schoolyard jockeying. The back half of the cam-pak was highly rewritten by Hark Gibraltar and re-released during the Second Age as part of the Jade Scriptures. It's a popular mod for Entombed! and allegedly the inspiration for a Residents album.

All gods are monsters if you do it right. All rules are there for you to dare to break them, even/especially if you never succeed. Ramona's other biggest contribution to the AE lexicon was Hooks, from A Tunnel #16, which has a Senate subcommittee's worth of Werthamic violations. If anyone can help me get a full scan of this one I'll do a review but since almost everyone tore out the "Centerfold Pinup" I'm pretty much satellite of love over here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


D&D Marduk is dumb. He's barely mentioned in anything I've ever seen and if he does show up he's just a lame god of goodness and like rivers flooding the wheat for a good crop. Compare to Marduk's old foe Tiamat who got probably the best result from Gary's synonym syndrome, where he'd just take a word he liked and make that a whole new monster, even if there was already a monster like that, in the process muddling up some nomenclature and giving us gems like that Medusa/Gorgon confusion. Tiamat ends up to be a god and as many dragons as possible and the ultimate evil in fully a quarter of all D&D campaigns and a major force of badness in all the rest. "Of Tiamat" auto-completes when you type "Cult" in D&D. She is rad and gets to have all the best Disney villain personalities at once and looks metalest and beating Tiamat in a big fight is something few may accomplish but everyone can imagine. Dreams of glory. Only an equally awesome power could ever hold her in check, which tracks because her celestial opponent is....

Bahamut. A really big dragon who is one kind of dragon but it's the goodest kind and he's the biggest one and a lot of like knights and clerics revere him for being shiny metal good and strong. Sometimes Marduk is an aspect of Bahamut.


I don't know. This is a novels thing, isn't it? Or if I really dug into some old 2e lore books? Maybe there is some meat that makes Bahamut rad? That kind of thing never held water with me. It's like saying the novelization of the scifi movie explained this plothole so therefore the movie doesn't have a plothole. It's Bahamut DLC. I don't want to have to go get extra stuff to make my new toy work. Maybe instead we should have gotten a better toy. I'm sure this all comes from ignorance. I plead it openly! But I've been doing this long enough now that if I still haven't come across some Cool Bahamut Stuff then it must be truly arcane and then what good is it?

I wouldn't mind a Marduk, if no one's doing anything with him.

Ground Rules

Marduk must look rad and he must look rad fighting a giant five headed dragon

Marduk must scare the other gods as much as Tiamat

Marduk must have as many cults as Tiamat; not temples or churches or monasteries, because Marduk is not Jehovah and we ankle his potential by making him so

Marduk must be in all things

Marduk must have a gestalt nature to match Tiamat's or he'll just seem outnumbered/overpowered

So, in 500 words or less:

"Marduk beat his way into this world from a larger world. Our cosmos is as a speck to Marduk's world and it cannot contain his enormity. His mighty universe punch shattered himself into a billion stars and these became gods and monsters, the same gods and monsters who created everything. There is Marduk in all life and Marduk is a part of all gods, even a part of the shadow of creation: Tiamat. Tiamat threatens to undo this universe that Marduk fisted into existence, so Marduk must marshal his shape and force her down into a smaller world beneath this one, a universe of fire chaos where even entropy will not hold its form.

Marduk is a part of all gods, and so wherever two are gathered in his name he is there also. To give the Marduk within purchase in your soul is to allow him a physical manifestation. He usually appears as a gloriously bearded thunderhead, a burning emerald tiger with diamond teeth, or the towering mantled spectral aspect of something very akin to the Macho Man Randy Savage. Usually he manifests as all three of these simultaneously. Marduk is always on Tiamat's shoulder-like-area, a conscience for something that has no use for such things. Marduk is a being of pure law justice JUDGMENT and there are countless parts of him that must be destroyed to escape his judging punch.

If he is said to have discrete domains they would be strength, fertility, noise, the seas, and implacable steel. Man elf and dwarf must work constantly to keep their inner Marduk in check as they fight their cravenness covetousness and apathy, lest they become forces of unchecked change. Marduk is perfect judgment but his many many vessels have only imperfect judgment. It is this aspect, desirable if unknowable, that pious men might profess to revere in Marduk but this is dangerous honey. The many cults of Marduk believe that Marduk's goal in this universe is to grow strong again enough to punch his way out to yet another plane, collapsing this one behind him in the process. They believe it their holy mission to gather and serve in his name, to deride the weak and crush mighty mountains down beneath the waves in order to facilitate this ascent. These cults have a rigid structure because of a truth they understand: if ever there is a group where no true leader is declared, that leader is surely Marduk and woe be then.

If you play a game with a paladin you can be a paladin of Marduk but it's more likely you'll be something like a Muscle Wizard, Mystic, Wendigo, Golem, or Barbarian. Women are always stronger in Marduk's service because he knows it pisses Tiamat off. Unless you're a completely around the bend cultist, though, the last thing man or god wants is to meet Marduk in any realized aspect. Marduk is judgment. All shall be judged by punching."

I can use this Marduk. He can join the pantheon with Metterokezekias, Edsu Voi, Moon Slave, Thunder King and the others. All the airbrushed-on-a-van gods. The Vantheon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Help Wanted

I'm mostly cleaning up old unposted articles or things I never put up on the site right now. I don't know if I have it in me any more to do any of this. If I'm frank it feels a little pointless and flailing but it's the only thing I know to do to try to jump start my work again. So if you have an idea that could help, a prompt I could work on, one that doesn't require me learning a whole new system or reviewing some book because I can't afford those, I'd love to hear it. Comment here or email me at my address on the right.

I'm not doing great. Games are not how I get better. But I'm going to do something by god.

....Also, with so many people leaving this corner of the community, and so many others just leaving gaming altogether, or just breaking contact with each other into smaller groups, the FRACAS page is in disarray. Not that it matters much. But I'll update that the next off day when I have the energy. Not sure when that will be. I'll clean everything out first and then later put in new additions. But feel free to email me anything you want to be sure I see and include.

Monday, January 21, 2019

DISCS - A Discworld RPG

You need 41 cents, a big index card, and a pencil. It can help to use a second index card to make a "board" to move your coins to as they Flip in order to keep track of things as you learn. Destiny's name should be Fate but I cannot be bothered with that particular Abbott and Costello shit at a public table.

Coin Heads means... Tails means...
Dime Magic: Cast a spell or benefit from your fantastic biology Weird: Flip for a surprise, or to force a Toss from Destiny
Penny Fighting: Flip to attack, or to defend from an attack Death: Toss to escape Death, Flip to deal a killing blow to a Broke target
Nickel Clever: Flip to apply your knowledge or work experience Luck: Flip for a clue or a fortunate break, Toss to force a coincidence
Quarter Action: Flip to do anything non-trivial 
or to assist another player on their turn
Reaction: Flip to double for any coin except Death on another player's turn

For when turn order matters, play always begins rotating to the left of Destiny. Coins represent things the players can do on their turn and ways to mitigate threat on others' turns. This is done by Flipping the coin over. Flipping a coin changes what the coin represents. A smaller coin can always be Flipped in the place of an already Flipped or Spent coin during a player's turn, while a larger coin can always be Flipped in place of another coin on another player's turn (or Destiny's). If a character would reasonably take damage they must Toss one of their coins, with a result of Tails meaning the coin is Spent and reverts to Destiny's control. Coins can also be Spent in a scene in order to acquire some special resource, at Destiny's discretion. Characters who have no coin which can reasonably be flipped in a situation, or characters that have Spent all their coins, are considered Broke. Broke characters are helpless before the powers of Destiny and may be killed. Coins are returned to a player if Destiny Spends them in order to add challenge to a player's Flip, causing them to Flip an additional coin but receive no additional benefit; Destiny's coins re-enter play – face up – after the double-flip is made.

On a player's turn they may perform each of the following they choose, once:
MUSE- Investigate or consider the world around you, or communicate with another character
SHIFT IT- Move across an unobstructed space about the size of a living room
FLIP- Use a coin to effect change in the world or apply your abilities
TRIVIA- Anything you wouldn't ordinarily be expected to fail, like drinking a beer

Using the Magic coin does not always denote the casting of a spell or use of an artifact, but whenever true Magic is in play it abides by its own rules. First, casting a spell always reverses the order of play. Second, Magic may be used to restore a Spent coin mid-scene. Third, a player may immediately apply the Weird coin and Flip it whenever a spell is cast, in order to recover their Magic coin right away. Finally, characters who are not Witches or Wizards casting a spell always involves Spending your Magic coin instead. Witches are particularly keen on subtle magic that affects themselves or somehow involves them directly, while Wizards prefer ritualized and dangerous magic that ideally affects everyone else. [[There is no list of spells. You can do a thing or you can do a thing magically, and usually they're equally difficult or time consuming...unless done recklessly or dangerously, in which case Destiny may Spend against you, as they will for more powerful effects. This will be signposted in order that players make informed choices.]]

Jobs broadly fit into eight categories: Tradesperson, Hero, Guild Member, Peasant, Noble, Guard, Witch, and Wizard. Witches and Wizards can cast spells, Heroes and Guards can Flip their Fighting coin to ply social influence, Nobles and Guild Members can usually reasonably acquire any mundane resource without Spending a coin, while Peasants and Tradespersons can always Flip their Luck in order to establish an existing contact. [[The distinction between Tradesperson and Guild Member is largely social class, or the difference in a thief or a master thief, or apply to specialized esoteric social groups like Assassins.]]

Players must choose from humans, dwarfs, and trolls, initially, although other types of being may become playable over the course of a game. Humans can Toss any coin when escaping Death. Dwarfs spend coins for harm at half the rate. Trolls can Flip twice a turn when in a fight. [[Your choice of shape can act just like your Job, providing a knowledge base and contacts you can employ...it can also, in certain circumstances, work against you. These social aspects are not mechanized because they will vary from region to region, person to person; because players are more adept at applying these ideas than bonuses or negatives would achieve; and because it is considered rude.]]

On the index card record your character's Name, Job, Shape, two things you suck at and one thing you're good at. Every session you can add justify something you succeeded in that night as a new talent, or vice versa for failure, but you always balance one new trait with the other. These are used by Destiny to determine whether something is Trivial or needs to be Flipped for, e.g. climbing a building, baking a pie, or memorizing a handshake. Also use it to record any other items you have on your person at one time. You can never have more possessions about your person than can fit on one side of the index card. [[Common sense is the rule here, and overloading and trying to game the system can be punished by Destiny's coins.]]

Destiny will have a number of other index cards on the table at a given time, representing the issues in need of resolution, and can introduce new ones at any time. Other players can also introduce new plot points through the exploitation of a contact or resource. Players move their tokens around this "map" as they choose to tackle any individual issue, and a party can and often will be divided across multiple fronts. A single note card may represent a wider issue involving multiple persons or locations but any card represents only one (1) location at a time and everyone addressing a particular thread is considered to be at that location. A game will naturally spread out like spilled milk and Destiny will draw those different elements together over time. Whenever that happens it necessitates a scene change.

A player may switch characters at any point during a session and may be asked to fill other roles temporarily by Destiny. Only the character you end play with may gain new traits. Destiny controls basically everyone else at any given time, characters which may be more complicated or less complicated than a player's characters.

So that's the game. Please play it and share it but if you do share it on social media or whatever please also include a link to https://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/support-us/donate/ or https://orangutan.org/donate/ or https://www.mydeath-mydecision.org.uk/donation/ or some other charity Terry Pratchett would approve of, with my thanks.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

You Know Why I Can't Wait For BREAK!!?

Because it represents a beautiful world that doesn't care about you.

We are all saturated with cold cruel worlds enormous beyond space old beyond time indifferent to mortal concerns and scornful of immortal conceits. Hell that might be close to my ideal genre of play.  But you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a wall of space marines, rot-infected henchmen with 10'poles scared of the fucking curtains, human unkindness, eldritch shapes from without our understanding. and even a modern superhero genre devoted mostly to evidencing there are no heroes and super powers are bad too. We get it. By all means keep it coming as long as you don't shit yourself but we get it.

And as a panacea to this we are offered games and worlds where we all have a shared history, we're all resolving each others' traumas and conflicts, we can dictate huge swaths of the world and even about other characters, we got books full of rules to mechanize our cool backstory we wrote in study hall, showy fart goof podcasts, traditional fantasy narratives with nontraditional gender roles, games where we even get a huge say over who lives and who dies with no randomization, strategy, or play element beyond regurgitating half-remembered Robert McKee. AND BY ALL MEANS more of that, too, or at least more of most of that. Everything can be rosy and wonderful if we work together and to a figurative, literal, mechanical degree the world ultimately does revolve around us.

and here's G/Rey

and maybe they aren't trying to make any grand statement about anything or trying to subvert your genre expectations. Maybe they go to sleep on a pillow stuffed with printouts from TV Tropes and all their years years y e a r s of effort has been to produce a run of the mill shelf-filler. Maybe that's the case, but I feel like it's not.

Because I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth or press their game FOR them or insert myself into their success any more than I've already tried. I just want the game to succeed. Because many players in the world are brilliant people and many DMs are creative juggernauts and everyone I've met at a table contains multitudes. BUT.

A lot of gamers are fairly ah....well, if not literal, then uncomplicated. They don't want to work and build and create, necessarily. This doesn't represent most gamers but it represents a lot of them: they want the book to do the work. Whether we're talking an adventure or a whole system they are counting on the buy-in being provided. Less driven by discovery, they crave a thing known. I was very nearly something like this once so I don't judge, I just don't relate. I get the instinct to do most of your creating and building and exploring in-game at-the-table but the idea of the game text as operating system and player characters as executables... That doesn't feel alive to me.

BREAK!! feels alive to me in a way that will defy scholars since it's been incubating since Moses struck the stone. The FIRST time.

And that's good because what BREAK!! represents to me is an opportunity to hand the people of the world for whom campaign planning and house rules are fairly alien one big ass book and go "Here: no hacking or modding, no third party content, no cooperation required, just a big aesthetic playground sown with old Capcom games, card battle anime, Shonen Knife, TSR, Kamen Rider, and that cartoon all star VHS where George C Scott was drugs."

But because this isn't an anime, because this isn't a video game, because this isn't a MIDI playlist, there is no central arc. There are no nine assholes the world revolves around, unless you set out to become those assholes. And if you choose to do that you're choosing to do so in a gorgeous and well realized world that is ALSO not here for you to be comfortable in. It will be cold and bad things will continue happening in most of the world no matter what you do. There won't be a bliss event. It's....

I don't think of rock and roll as a genre, I think of it as a vanishing point. It's an achievement. You know when something is rock and roll, even if it's only in part. That's why when people talk about rock and roll the amount of material that covers is a sprawling mess and it seems to encompass a lot of things that are, well, other things. Johnny Cash is undeniably rock and roll and provably not rock and roll. I think of D&D the same way. There are people who are allowed to put the word Dragons on a book cover after the word Dungeons but that's a fucking fragment of what D&D is and so much of what D&D is is so strange in so many different directions that it's hard to keep track. Now it would be a disservice to a lot of G/Rey's work to imply that in the end it's just D&D but it's D&D *too* because it's that good.

A lot of beautiful games are not D&D. They never get to be D&D, I mean. And a lot of D&D is never bright and beautiful, promising welcome. BREAK!! is an inviting world of rolling pastorals and Ghibli alphabet soup and feudal towers and the power of our dreams and emotions that will still break your shit in the way the best D&D can. Please excuse me for calling every video game I see a Nintendo but that's just how it is.

And so I'm excited for BREAK!!

Because a ton of people who wouldn't quite "get it" under other circumstances will "get it" from break, and then they'll get it. The book, they'll get BREAK!!

And run it

And then I'LL get to fucking play it.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Visit Beautiful Befly (Content Warning[s])

My other Santicore prompt was for a hex so horrible no one would ever want to go there or talk about it again. O.....KAY.....
Image result for flower clock

Befly was a small village with fewer than 100 souls calling her home, all of them at most second cousins from one another. They lived good, pious lives and denied themselves all vices. Not too long ago a particular plague was brought to town by a stranger named Russtle. It moved with such swiftness that no attempt at sending for aid could be successful in time – messengers died on the roads and their horses trotted off with them still in their saddles. This inconsequential little hamlet could have passed out of all history without their tragedy every having been known. Instead, everyone got back up in a week or so.

They have thoughts like themselves and they go through normal courses. Their behavior is far from mundane. They consume but do not need to eat and do not eat correctly. They mill in the church and scream with tearing, wet, sucking-sound throats full of rending cords in place of psalms. They collect hens' eggs, crushing each in their grip and never stopping to wipe them off. They face each other and make polite small talk but their eyes are clouded over or rolled back in their heads or missing altogether.

These are the Yeast Zombies, animated by an airborne venereal infection which can be cleared up with a simple Cure Wounds spell. Absent of such magic it infects to the point of making its host nonviable upon exposure, though the body's individual systems take some time to become septic and shut down. After about five days the infection itself is advanced enough to take over your simple motor functions and hammer old chemical pathways, enough to make a simulacrum of your old self that could pass for You-but-with-a-serious-head-wound at a distance. Perhaps the idea is that this will help it spread itself but the small lives of the people of Befly did not leave much room for journeys or ambition. They would probably simply circulate through the square night and day until the microbes had completely stripped bone and flesh of anything useful and collapsed into a mushy mass. Perhaps that is how the players come upon them but, more likely, they will have to deal with Russtle.

Russtle is an apprentice necromancer and a huge pervert, immune to the necromantic arts himself but with little gift for applying them. As such he made a terrific carrier for this zombie yeast, picked up from (why start with euphemisms now?) corpse fucking. Befly was his first stop on the way to a new life after his master cast him out of study for the breach of protocol of fucking the corpse before his master could do so first. Instead, as villagers died around him, he found a gift from some fucked up gods and stayed on as the ghost town's pope of pleasure. He wasn't going to let a little thing like the corpses reanimating stop him from enjoying himself.

Key Features

The Disused Mission- Forgotten here is a small well whose waters allow you to remember something you'd forgotten up to a year ago. The more you drink the further back you recall. This secret was kept by a miserly and haunted preacher before he fell off his horse ten years back. The Mission will be in disrepair, all other valuables long ago looted.

Russtle- Lv. 1 Necromancer. Immune to poison, disease, necromancy. Knows the spells Comprehend Languages, Cause Light Wounds, and Create/Destroy Stench (make a Poison save vs. the Stench where failure leaves you unable to take actions or cast spells for 1 round, must be made each round with a bonus equal to your previous successes, until you have either failed thrice or succeeded thrice) but may have some stolen office supply scrolls (20%). If found in his lair (the pub) he will likely be asleep with exhaustion, gently reposing in the nude while sucking lovingly on long matted hair. If encountered on the street he will likely (90%) be busily pleasuring himself with the Yeast Zombies, wearing clothes stuffed with soiled matted hair (-1 from any damage dealt to Russtle). Russtle has an oral fixation. Speaking of which, Russtle casts his spells by pulling his own rancid teeth from his maw with rusty pliers. If he is able to put one of these teeth inside you somehow then you do not get a save from that spell's effects. Cause Wounds spells heal Russtle and re-grow his teeth, which makes an ear splitting fingers on chalkboard noise. Russtle is constantly moist and gains +3 AC unless his attacker specifies that their target is moist by slowly stage-whispering it. Russtle has 9 nipples like a dog, and they all bleed when he experiences sensual pleasures. Stimulating Russtle through nipples or other means causes him to take 1 point of Exhaustion penalties per round until he passes out from ecstasy. This means that when you encounter Russtle pleasuring himself with the Yeast Zombies you could just wait until he pleasures himself into unconsciousness. Russtle never does anything as untoward as just fucking these walking corpses, usually; instead he likes to open ragged, gaping, pus-oozing wounds and insert different body parts into these new orifices, often to cries of “Oooohhhhhh, Mmmmmmommyyyyy...” Simply being in his presence, however, puts you in danger of catching this disease.

The Floral Clock- This is set to some timekeeping scheme with 26 hours in a day and populated with strange breeds of roses. These are nor magical but are remarkable: Befly was home to some secret botanical genius unseen by the wider world before it fell ill. Sustaining these plants until you can get them to someone who knows their value would be like selling a spell book. Flower people are crazy.

Yeast Zombies- 10% chance of being armed but will not attack you; these are weapons Russtle might use, though. While it goes without saying that their genital zones would be a thing of nightmares to look at right now every orifice is crusted with some horrible goopy collection, trapping dirt and gnats. Sores from before they died had crusted over and now their scabs are like a creme brulee. New wounds which they have suffered in their brainless meanderings go unnoticed and untended and sprout new goop from these infectious lava vents. The mayor and his wife were so gored by their prize bull before it ran off that their torsos have great gaping chasms now leaking a small trail. The mayor's is only held together with rusty gut-covered fish hooks, a bit of ingenuity on Russtle's part that allows him to strip down and slide his torso in and out of the mayor's torso hole to achieve maximum stimulation. They are not really alive but will act like it, up to and including facing you with dead eyes and making unending pleasant small talk all while Russtle ruts away oblivious of the wider world or any sort of virtue or cleanness. The creatures inside of them create a lot of waste heat and so these hosts constantly sweat buckets. Any you see will be dripping as from a bath, reeking of both decay and active body odor. Their homes have been untouched so there is a 100% chance to loot basic stores, provisions, tools, nails, animal feed, other such supplies, but remember these are simple people: outside of a few coins or deeds they only have 1% chance to have anything extraordinary. You will not find any children in the village of Befly, and so no children who have become Yeast Zombies.

Tiny Hurried Makeshift Cemetery
- 5% chance to find something of value here, as all manner of strange trinkets and heirlooms have been left as offerings for the departed young of Befly. Only eleven markers stand here in this special burial mound far from the other, older plots. It was believed to be a kind of fever....It is not obvious unless you are looking for signs of Befly's children around town. As I finish this sentence I cannot in good conscience state that Russtle the pervert necromancer is aware that it even exists and ask only that if you make a command decision about disregarding his ignorance you simply never tell me about it.

Corpse of Santicore, pt. 1

I participated in what I guess was the 2017 Santicore and got two prompts out of it. I don't know that they ever went up in any capacity but statute of limitations should have run out by now. The first one was for something like an elemental theory of the world, like how everything is made of earth air fire heart, but without using any of those. Okay.

Image result for weaving

Philosophers refer to the Honeycomb, chymists call it the Star, the holy speak of a
Gate, and the masses call it the Weave. First proposed by Horax Baldersheef in
Year Unicorn and refined by the Mosphebe cloister in Year Candle, the Weave is a
way of understanding the larger world without getting bogged down in arcana.
Even peasants know the stars do not affect the omens of their birth but even
scholars admit to being lost in the enormity of everything. To seek an answer you
must ask a question but to frame a question at all you need a language. The Weave
is a responsible lexicon to begin inspection from and serves as the only true
common tongue between the civilized kingdoms, the Wracked Legions of Fleisch
Peak, and the Middlers with their strange eyes, short lives, and ancient catacombs.

The Twins: Light and Blood

We know that light was here when nothing was, for we know that darkness comes
when things get in the way of light. Logically once all was light, and we see daily
the aspect of light in all things and creatures. The eyes of those around us, the way
gems and strange fishes shine even deep beyond light's reach, the flash that the
storm cloud uses to frighten the rain into fainting and falling... But we know that
constant effort puts a strain on everything in the world whether it's the plow or
sinew or a dam. The light was wounded in the agony of its own eternity, and so
became two things: blood, which gives all things color and dries in strange shapes
and textures, and the shine itself which bleeds. All things at their most elemental
contain light and blood. This only makes sense since we can see and touch
everything in the world. It's easy to see why the primitives back in the Crystal
Epoch believed this to be the limits of science.

The Movers: Worms, Trees, and Noise

Mosphebe translators correctly theorized that while light and blood make up all
life and matter there was no part of either alone which accounted for the
locomotion of beasts, swiftly racing winds, or the changing of stars and season.
We know that big things are very loud when they move so that's obviously part of
it. We have seen the corpses of the dead dissolve into different kinds of worms
over time so we know that worms are in every creature, probably responsible for
carrying breath and blood and bile. It was difficult to determine what caused the
wind until they realized that clouds drove the winds around and smoke looked like
small clouds...and we ALL know that smoke comes from Trees. Everything falls
into place once these motivating agents are realized. After all, the very ground we
walk on is filled with worms, creates trees, and due to its size sometimes creates
rumbling noise so powerful that everything violently shakes. Volcanoes are places
where we can see light-filled blood bursting out and making smoke at the same
time, which means mountains are rich in Trees make. Countless examples can be
drawn connecting these examples, from the towering clouds that are themselves
noisy to the almost-invisible worms that are found in thin, dying smoke.

The Balance: Cold

A controversial modern concept is the presence of Cold as a binding, limiting,
completing factor. We see this in the way it makes water (a mix of blood and
noise) into a solid thing, so this would logically hold true for blood as well. We
know that when things become colder the light doesn't last as long, bound into a
smaller space filled by cold. And we have seen the way the cold keeps trees from
growing too much at once. Most telling is how snakes and lizards are often cold,
as if they might fall apart into worms and blood and trees if not for cold. This is
probably why light seems to stun them into lying around, while during colder
times they move too fast to see (though we constantly hear their hissing as they
move about the ground, scattering leaves, chasing after their prey the wind). While
generally accepted it has yet to be introduced to any scholarly texts because of the
perceived diminishing power of cold, since most academics agree that you don't
see winters like you used to when they were younger, suggesting cold is an
exhaustible resource we are running out of rather than a fundamental force.

Monday, January 14, 2019

I'm alive I just got empty. Hit me up if you need anything.