Wednesday, April 02, 2014

an outer space thing

So here’s an idea I woke up with this morning.  Writing this thing at the same time as my Cultural Theory homework was really weird.

The Peace of Vann
The Peace of Vann is one of the oddest known interstellar polities.  At the last galactic census it numbered 55 worlds scattered across 6 sectors of the galaxy.  These worlds are not connected by any known FTL routes.  None of the planets in the Peace of Vann can be designated its capital world, a subject of extreme curiosity even on member-worlds of the polity itself.  

The procedure for a world to join the Peace has been the same for the entirety of the present cycle of interstellar civilization: occasionally a seemingly random assortment of worlds will simultaneously receive brief radio transmissions that application for membership may be made at a certain location.  The last such application period, 176 years ago, involved at least 32 planets scattered across four different sectors all receiving the message “The Peace of Vann is now accepting applications for new member worlds.  Please send a delegate to Susarik-4 to apply.”  

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Crypt of Kings, session #1

Care for a drink, dearie?
Hi, all! Remember me? I gots a new game going. Two of the players are self-taught 4e enthusiasts, two have never played any sort of D&D, only one has any real idea what he might have gotten himself into.

Following a bit of mucking about generating characters, we open in a side street of Wintoncester, the August City. Six newly-arrived adventurers are bucking up their courage with the foul brew at the Wretched Crone Alehouse:
  • The mighty warrior Simon of Sodor (Josh)
  • Guy the Cleric and his sidekick, a halfling named Albert (Thaddeus)
  • Istrazanne Fay, a cleric (Kelsey)
  • Rogan Rumrunner, a halfling (Zak, but not the one you’re thinking of)
  • Cornelia Trumbleway of Puddleglum, a surprisingly muscular halfing (Katy)
After a sufficient number of drinks to make going down into a dungeon seem sensible, the party
stumbles its way to a bustling courtyard between Shieldmaker Street and Tanner Street. In the center of this back-alley plaza is the Dolorous Well, known for the eerie moans that occasionally emanate from its depths.

After some debate, a clear course of action arises: send the NPC down first. Albert the Halfling climbs into the bucket and is lowered down to have a look-see. He reports to side passages in the wall of the well: a small one a fellow his size can crawl into and a large one that a human could stand in. After some urging he crawls into the smaller tunnel. There’s some screaming bloody murder and splashing sounds and eventually the bucket is pulled back up, but this time it contains both Albert and a giant rat locked in an earnest wrestling match! Guy the Cleric administers a sound drubbing to the rat, knocking it out of the bucket and back down into the water. Splash!

Getting down the other tunnel ends up being a logistical pain in the ass, involving figuring out who goes down next, who stays and turns the crank, who fends off the rest of the giant rats, and a side order of “oh who brought the torches? no one?” Albert volunteers to stay up top to “guard the well”.

But finally, our heroes can get Down to Business, negotiating series of chambers, tunnels and many, many staircases. The first room they find with anything of note is some sort of evil shrine. On one side of the room is an altar with a crude wooden statue of what I describe as a toad-like demon-Buddha. Opposite of it is a tapestry depicting the capture, butchering, cooking and serving of a unicorn, while high overhead a globe hangs pendant from the ceiling, flickering with an eerie green light that malevolent illuminates the chamber. Guy, like many others in the party, is disturbed by the scenes depicted on the tapestry. He opts to set it ablaze with one of the torches Istrazanne borrowed from a shieldsmith.

As the flaming tapestry falls to the floor, a rank of eight skeletons in bronze armor are revealed behind it. They spring to unlife and advance with ancient spears, but clerical turning puts the kibosh on their attack. Before they can be turned Simon of Sodor begins his session-long cold dice streak. IIRC he doesn’t land a single strike all night, much to everyone’s amusement.

Meanwhile, Rogan Rumrunner’s curiosity has gotten the best of him. He lobs his grappling hook up at the spooking glowing orb. He doesn’t catch his hook on the globe or the chain it hangs from, but he does crack the globe. A phosphorescent green gas seeps out and drifts down to the floor, into the vague outline of a humanoid form, with black holes of hate where his eyes should be. Rogan has released the dreaded Highly Visible Stalker from its prison.

I thought this encounter was going to be a Total Party Kill, which is always a pretty good way to start off a new campaign. The players did their best to make the fight entertaining. Rogan very nearly died, but Guy successfully revived him. Cornelia and Istrazanne entangled the creature in a rope in a very good attempt to make it easier to hit, but Simon couldn’t land a single blow nonetheless. Only a natural 20 from a torch-wielding Guy and blessed St. Hargrave’s critical chart save the day, as the Stalker burst aflame/apart with some Michael Bay level special effects.

Once goblins move into the
neighborhood property values
go down the drain, you know?

The other big encounters included NOT activating the additional skeletons behind a second tapestry depicting the Queen of Babylon and her Seven Headed Dragon wrecking up some saints, a brief fight with a badass skeleton guarding a staircase, and Thaddeus befriending Edbert the Recently Divorced Bugbear. The party even went back to Edbert’s lair for wine and some bowls of rat stew, which afforded Rogan the opportunity to nick some enruned arrows. After the visit with Eddy the Bugbear, they head up some more stairs to find what the bugbear described as “goblins working on something for the goblin king.” We ran out of time at this point, so rather than subject six new players to the Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom (which I forgot to bring anyway), I opted to end the session in room 3 of the dungeon.

As we broke for the night it seemed like everyone had a pretty good time. The 4e players noted that it was a very different experience than they expected, but didn’t seem put off by the lack of a tactical display. So we’ll try this again in two weeks for more fun and frolic. Thanks to everyone who gave the game a go and thanks to Katy for hosting.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Brawl at the Tanglebones Tavern: Turn 3

Mister Mister is still holding KISS gal and drunkenly serenading her as Silver-haired Fonzie springs into action, taking a wild swing at Mister that glances off his forearm.  It's not over for Mr. Mister, though, as the KISS fan pulls him in closer and then introduces her knee to Mister's lower vitals.  He goes down to his knees for a little breather.

Nearby Cadfael has figured out that the Bronze Skulls are not the smartest guys you'll ever meet and goes for a distraction.  "Catch!" he shouts as he tosses his pewter tankard to the guy in the filthy smock, who catches it and looks down at the mug in confusion.  All eyes turn towards smock guy, giving the holy man a perfect opening for a flying drop kick!  Smock guy is down for the count and Father Cadfael sticks the landing with a badass Batman/Spiderman style crouch!  The Father's moment of pure badassery is fleeting, as the woman with the filed teeth delivers a Shatnerian double axe handle to the top of his head!  But what is this?  The holy roller shrugs it off and stands up, a look of righteous fury in his eyes!  The Bronze Skuller covered with snake-themed tattoos isn't impressed, though, and comes at Cadfael with a left cross, who leans away from it with Ali grace.  Bumphrey the Moleman had his eye on this tattoo dude and makes his move at this moment, catching him with a solid left.  Darf the Dwarf slips past the general tangle near table 17 and ends up at the hallway between the two halves of the tavern, where he finds the two barmaids chatting in trollish and calmly waiting for the brawl to blow over.

Meanwhile jester hat guy is speaking soothing words to the woman waving the dagger around and it looks like she's maybe going to not cut him to ribbons when out of the corner of his eye he spots the stomping party on the Ugly Wizard, who has suddenly stopped swearing.  "Holy balls!  Boss!" he shouts.  With his attention turned Fritz the Cleric catches him with a Stooge Fu double eye-poke.  To add injury to insult the dagger woman strikes, expertly backstabbing him right below the ribcage and quickly yanking the blade out.  Jester hat piteously wails "Game over, man!" as blood is positively gushing out a wound that he can't quite reach to staunch.  Shit just got real.

Over at the pile of timber that used to be table 20, Quartle the Frogman and Harold the Adequate scramble to their feet.  The frogman begins an incredible transformation.  His fabulous clothes burst asunder as he grows in height and bulk.  "Quartle smash puny human!  Quartle strongest there is!"  Harold is undaunted by this development and comes at him, bro, with a wide variety of attacks, but he is unable to do any damage to the froghulk.  Seeing the carnage about to ensue, Ba Chim the Pointy-Eared Landsknecht executes a strategic withdrawal back up the stairs; Sir Grover of Sesame arrives at the foot of the stairs a split second later.  Whatever deviltry he had planned for Ba Chim is foiled for now.  Rhadamantus the Archmage screams "Sayonara, fuzzface" as he leaps through the air for a flying kick attack at Sir Grover.  Unfortunately, he slightly misjudges the height of the muppet, sails clear over his head (knocking Grover's visor down over his eyes in the process) and collides with Harold the Adequate.  They both end up in a pile at the feet of Quartle-Hulk.

Back at the bar Von the Koopa Troopa has climbed out of the mess that was the liquor shelves just as Bobo the Monkey offers him a slug of banana schnapps (after a generous pull of his own).  Von's turtly heart is full of mischief though, and he tries to grab the monkey with both of his little reptile claws.  The monkey was prepared for such an eventuality and smashes the bottle down on Von's cartoony little head.  The Koopa Troopa goes does, his head oozing blood!  Nearby the hairy jerk and the baby troll continue to mix it up with a furious exchange of kicks and punches.  The hairy weirdo catches the baby troll with an nasty uppercut, knocking the baby out.  The troll runt's cigar flies through the air, tracing out an arc of smoke and sparks, landing perilously close to the pool of liquor near area 12.  But no fire yet.

Malice the Albino Elf continues his inexplicable attack on Megasthenes with a stomp attack but the Hoplite rolls out of the way and to his feet.  Megasthenes catches the elf with a mighty double punch, but Malice is still standing.  Almost simultaneously a bottle smashes down on Malice's skull, shattered and drenching him in spirits.  Where the crap did that come from?  The elf is woozy, but still standing.

Over at the west fireplace the Blueboys have inexplicable decided to go after Big Daddy Troll.  The Blueboy with the red braided beard connects with a right cross and the lumpy kid with a left straight.  Their boss, a dude in a fancy blue cloak, follows this up with solid kung fu kick right in the troll's pot belly, but the big lug laughs in their stupid faces as he snatches up the lumpy headed kid and swings him about like a rag down.  The troll eventually releases the poor bastard, who hits a wall and stays down.

CASUALTIES THIS TURN: dirty smock guy, Von the Koopa Troopa (who scores 300xp for his participation), baby troll, lumpy headed kid, ugly wizard

Friday, August 16, 2013

One way to almost do Holmes initiative

Each round the DM rolls an extra d6 in addition to everyone participating rolling one.  Initiative is then grouped like this:

Pseudo-Holmes Initiative Groups per round
Inish Groups
18-17-16, 15-14-13, 12-11-10, 9-8-7, 6-5-4, 3
18-17, 16-15-14, 13-12-11, 10-9-8, 7-6-5, 4-3
18, 17-16-15, 14-13-12, 11-10-9, 8-7-6, 5-4-3

So if you have a Dex 16 initiative some rounds you will automatically lose to anyone with a Dex 17 or 18 while rolling off against Dex 15 or 14.  Other rounds you automatically beat Dex 15 or lower and roll off against higher Dexterity.

I developed this method for the Brawl at the Tanglebones Tavern.

What if you tie on the die roll with people in your peer group?  Hell if I know.

Brawl at the Tanglebones Tavern: Turn 2

Over at the bottom of the staircase Quartle the Dandy Frog continues to brawl with Ba Chim the Landsknect Elf.  The amphibian delivers a powerful right uppercut to the jaw of the elf.  Critical hit!  Ba Chim falls back against the staircase.  He's down but not quite out.   "Some thanks I get for trying to help!" he mutters as he shakes off the blow.

Meanwhile over in the middle of the room the woman with the sharpened nails and filed teeth makes her move against Father Cadfael, ducking inside the arc of his swinging mug and attempts a claw rake but the wily cleric sees her coming and jumps back at the last moment.  The motion brings him closer to the guy with the grimy hands and dirty smock, and the cleric attacks him with his mug but to no avail.  Grey-haired Fonzie and his buddy covered with snake tattoos step up into position to back up the rest of their gang.

Fast cut to the other half of the building, where Malice Aforethought the Albino Elf decides to make his move, coming at Megasthenes the Hoplite with a flying dropkick!  BAM!  A solid hit but they both go down to the floor.  Fritz was obviously about to go after either Malice or Megasthenes and seems momentarily at a loss.

At the next table over the dork in the jester hat continues to stomp the guy with the eye-patch, who writhes on the ground crying for his momma.  Dang!  Another critical hit!  The eye-patch guy is bruised and bloodied all over his arms and upper torso, reduced to a whimpering shell of a man.  Eye-patch is officially the first dude out of the running for the title of Baddest Brawler.

So far the Bronze Skull gang has shown a lot of unity and esprit de corps, acting as a group.  The Blueboy gang seems to be going with an alternative approach, as the lumpy headed kid arrives at the Blueboys' table, the redbearded dude goes at him but lumpy manages to ward off most of the force of the blow with a timely block.  The kid manages to connect with a sloppy counter-punch.  The third Blueboy present, who seems to be the leader of the group, grabs both of their heads and conks them together Three Stooges style.

The barkeep does not like all these monstrous weirdos coming at his supply of hard liquor and goes after Von the Koopa Troopa.  As he turns Bobo the Flying Monkey snatches the bottle of Auntie Grodd's Banana Schnapps sitting on the counter.  The barkeep grabs the turtlish duder but doesn't take account his grip on a high shelf and brings the whole shelving unit crashing down on both of them! Dozens of bottles of high end hooch are shattered, their contents never to be drunk by man nor mutant.  Oh the humanity!  The barkeep is down for the count, but Von crawls to his feet and, with a triumphant grin, proceeds to take a long pull from the bottle in his hand.  Too bad the bottom half of it is gone and nothing comes out.

The really hairy dude is only inches away from the spot where the top shelf crashed into the bar, but he's too busy beating up the cigar-smoking troll-baby to notice.  They mix it up and the kid comes out the better for the exchange, delivering a vicious kick to the hairy guy's shin.  He howls in agony.

Back over on the other side of the joint Bumphrey the Mutant Mole goes all Sonic the Hedgehog for a moment and in a burst of speed throws himself bodily at the Bronze Skuller with the big Mario Mustache.  Rhadamantus  takes a swing at Bumphrey as he goes past, but fails to connect.  The mole hits with a ramming speed headbutt to the groin!  Mario crumples to the floor, wishing he was unconscious.  He looks stupid, but not stupid enough to get back up before the fight is over.  His buddy in the filthy smock sees an opportunity to kick Darf the Dwarf and carpes the crap out of that diem with a solid strike to the dwarf's gut.  The wind is knocked out of him for a moment, but Darf is still looking to fight.

Nearby Sir Grover of Sesame goes all karate high kick on Harold the Adequate, landing his furry blue foot to the back of Harold's head!  It's one of those blows that is shrugged off for the moment, but damn will he feel that tomorrow morning.  Harold meanwhile climbs onto the table, which is probably too rickety for these sorts of shenanigans, but he's not on it long as he leaps off the table and over the banister at Quartle the Frogman.  It's a beautiful aerial maneuver.  Witnesses will tell their grandkids about it some day. The two brawlers end up in a tangled ball of brawl among the shattered timbers where table 20 used to be.

Over at table 10 the Wilt Chamberlain looking dude with the iron hand and the fighting woman with the grey eyes exchange a meaningful glance, cease hostilities, and proceed to double stomp the bejeesus out of Weird Merlin, who is already on the floor.  Dude is tough as leather; he continues to curse like a congressman even under this brutal barrage.

Meanwhile, KISS girl goes after Mr. Mister but he deftly counters, grabbing her and pulling her close.  "I was made for loving you, baby" he sings, but he's so drunk the words comes out slurred beyond recognition and way louder than necessary, not to mention completely off key.

Back at the bar, Daddy Troll has finished off his pitcher of mead.  He sloppily wipes off his mouth with  scabrous arm, wheels about and silently slouches towards the brawlers at tables 6 and 7, casting a long, long shadow across the room.  A fangy grin stretches far too widely across his hideous face.  As all eyes are turned on this development Man Rider tentacles up into the rafters, out of sight.

TURN 2 casualties: barkeep, eye-patch guy, mario dude

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Brawl at the Tanglebones Tavern: Turn 1 Results

TURN 1 results
The Barkeep
No one is quite sure what put the Tanglebones Tavern into such a brawling move.  Part of the blame must lie with the barkeep, an old greybearded grouch who’s been drinking as much as anyone in the place.  And the more drinks, the grouchier he seems to get.  He seems to be in a grouch-off with the exceedingly hairy man at the bar, who is obviously a regular.  Some of the blame also has to lie with the folks in the eastern half of the establishment.  The dudes at tables 19 and 20 have been giving each other the stink eye all night.  And at one point a Vietnamese elf in a poofy landsknecht jacket moves from one table to the other, apparently in a huff.  Meanwhile, the cheap thugs at table 14 are paranoid enough to think that all the meaningful glances are actually about them, like tables 19 and 20 are conspiring against their gang somehow.

Whatever the source of tension, everyone on the western half of the bar knows exactly who started the ruckus: Bobo the Flying Monkey.  He’s been bugging the barkeep for a while about getting another banana daiquiri, but dude is too busy talking to his hairy chum.  Bobo snaps, leaping up onto the bar and taking a wild swing at the barkeep, who barely ducks out of the way.

The whole establishment explodes into a maelstrom of fisticuffs and swearing.   The Bronze Skulls at table fourteen rush towards the back of the room, in the lead is a woman with nails and teeth, both of which have been filed to nasty points.

Over on the other side of the Tavern, Malice the Albino Elf broods and warily sips his drink as the fight breaks out.  There’s one in every crowd.

Meanwhile, Ba Chim the Vietnamese elvish landsknecht is stumbling down the stairs, trying to clear his head, arriving back in the room just in time to catch a right uppercut from Quartle the Dandy Frogman square in the jaw!  Ba Chim rolls back on the balls of his heels for a moment, but he’s still standing.

The oldest of the Bronze Skulls, a fellow with silver hair and an equally silver scar across his face, doesn’t seem to be in a rush.  He pulls out a comb and adjust his hair Arthur Fonzarelli style as he saunters towards the south end of the room.

Father Cadfael grabs his pewter tankard and rushes forward to meet the Bronze Skulls, swinging it left and right in wide arcs to fend off a Bronze Skull zerg rush.  This stops the advance in the middle of the room.  ʺHarold, watch my back. Darf, keep an eye on that muppet!!ʺ shouts the cleric.  Are either Harold or Darf sober enough to understand what he’s saying?  No one knows.
Meanwhile the lumpy-headed kid in the Blueboy gang (seriously, something is wrong with the shape of that dude’s head) rushes over to table 9 to join his comrades.

Over at table 7 the guy in the jester hat is the first one up and kicks the eyepatch mofo at his table, knocking him to the floor!

Von the Koopa Troopa scrambles onto the bar and over the large barrel of mead behind the west end and leaps across to the shelves where the high end booze is stored.   The shelves begin to lurch forward...

The woman at table 7 yanks her dagger out of the table and begins waiving it menacing at the dude in the jester hat, “I’ll cut you, punk.  I will!  And the DM has crit charts!”

Meanwhile in the other side of the building Bumphrey the Moleman attacks Sir Grover of Sesame!  Grover tries to fend him off but Bumphrey tags him with a right cross.

The barkeep jumps back to avoid both Von and Bobo and is cursing like a sailor just back from graduating with honors from Fuck You Naval Academy.

On the other side of the join the young mage Rhadamantus gets up from his seat at table 20 and gives Bumphrey an evil look.  "I've got better things to do than hang out with losers who look like extras from The Wind in the Willows."  He turns to stride away haughtily, only to find Father Cadfael partly blocking his way. "Forgive me, father, for what I am about to do," intones Rhadamantus as he deftly steps inside the the wild arc of Cadfael’s mug-swing and nails him with a powerful uppercut!  Cadfael’s caught off guard for a moment, but now he looks angry.

Another member of the Bronze Skulls moves up to join the sharp lady in menacing Father Cadfael.  This chap has a shaved head and earring look, but he’s not exactly Mr. Clean.  His hands are covered in dried clay, as is the smock he’s wearing.  He doesn’t attack, yet.

The belly dancer jumps up on the stage and backs into the corner, watching the action.

For no apparent reason the really hairy guy at the bar goes after Man Rider the mutant paladin with a Shatnerian double axehandle attack, but the tentacular weirdo easily schlorps out of the way.

One of the Bronze Skull gang, a dude with cool ass snake tattoos on each arm, has been losing all his coins at cards.  At the first sign of trouble he ‘accidentally’ flips the table as he rushes to aid his comrades, sending copper and silver coins flying across the room.

A Blueboy, a fellow with a ridiculously braided red beard, doesn’t get up yet.; he’s busy finishing his drink.

In all the confusion one of trollish barmaids spills an entire tray of drinks all over the floor near table 7.  All brawlers pause for a moment to mourn the fallen, those wearing hats doff their chapeau momentarily as a sign of respect.  The brawl resume.

Darf, who is quite probably the ugliest dwarf you’ve ever seen, moves up to left of where Father Cadfael is holding the line.

Over at table 6 as everyone stands Fritz (the Von Helsing lookalike) deftly grabs Megasthenes the Hoplite and twirls him about in a beautiful waltz, as Fritz dips the Hoplite you think he’s going to lean in for the kiss, but at the last moment he lets go, dropping Megasthenes flat to the floor.  Ah, romance.

All night Sir Grover of Sesame has been drinking Alligator’s Milk, which he assumed was some sort
of local cocktail.  Just before the brawl breaks out he complains about how weak they are.  Harold the Adequate explains that no, that’s actually the milk from a lactating alligator (no explanation available).  Sir Grover proceeds to spew a mouth full of the stuff right into Harold’s face.

Harold wipes the Alligator Milk out of his eyes and replies in kind with a mouthful of mead.  For a moment the muppet thinks this is a straightforward tit-for-tat, until Harold swings his tankard at his felty head.  The wily Sir Grover drops under the table before Harold can connect.

The three weirdos at table 10 start to mix it up with each other.  The woman with the vicious grey eyes kicks Ugly Gandalf; dude stumbles for a moment, dropping his sweet ass pipe, but remains standing.

Another member of the Bronze Skulls moves up to Father Cadfael’s position, this one a woman who appears to be going to a KISS concert later tonight, based upon her black garb and  Gene Simmons make-up.  

It’s starting to look like Father Cadfael and Darf the Dwarf will be facing the entire Bronze Skull gang next turn when Mister Mister (the manly man in a black sweater and blue jeans sitting at table 20) knocks back the last of his mead and says to no one in particular “Excuse fine gents...I have to see...a man about a horse...”  He leaps to his feet and rushes over to the vicinity of table 17, which he flings out of the way, clearing a space for him to assist the cleric and the dwarf.

Megasthenes the Hoplite scrambles to his feet, unsure of the turn his life has just taken.

The trollish barmaid that had been serving the Bronze Skulls quickly gathers the coins they kindly left for her as payment and tip, then hussles out of the room.

Back at table 10 the big man (6’8”) with the iron right hand takes a swing at the woman with the
menacing grey eyes.  Note that he swings with his left (non-metallic) hand, catching her with a mean left cross.  The woman laughs like she’s having the time of her life.

Over at the bar, the bigger troll guzzles another pitcher of mead, as if oblivious to the chaos erupting around him.  Meanwhile back at the bottom of the staircase that little love tap from Quartle the Frogman seems to be enough to help knock Ba Chim the Elf out of his mead-induced haze.  "Aw, there's a bar fight going on? Where the hell is Taurus Hell's-Heart when you need him?"

The pile of tentacles known as Man Rider oozes over the bar and up the shelf in the back, grabbing a bottle of Old Panther from the top shelf and ascending to the rafters via tentacle.

The last of the Bronze Skulls, a fellow with a huge Mario-style handlebar moustache, moves into position to brawl with Darf, Cadfael and Mr. Mister next turn.
The baby troll turns his head and casually blows a big cloud of cigar smoke into the hairy guy’s face. Dude is not amused.

Finally, Ugly Gandalf has fallen and he can’t get up.  He can swear using a variety of sexual acts that are mostly impossible in three dimensional space, though.