Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sandboxes & Dragons

Here's something that I found interesting as I've been working on the Blitzkrieg Peninsula of my World of Cinder: placing dragons. According to the chart on page 16 of OD&D volume 2, The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, dragons can fly 24 five mile hexes per day. That's a 12 hex round trip. So assuming that dragons are territorial apex predators (which I do), that places a hard limit on how many flying dragons you can fit on any particular sandbox map. And looking over my particular map I can eyeball maybe three good places for dragon lairs. So from the moment this sandbox is put onto the table I'll be able to tell the players likely places they could hunt for dragon hoards. "Yeah, the Draco Mountains are called that for a reason." Stuff like that.

Of course those three lairs don't include long-hibernating wyrms forgotten by the races with shorter memories, dragons that have burrowed deep into the bowels of the earth or the Common Purple Land-dragon.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

fabulous prizes

So I mailed out the prizes for the Easy Peasy EC PC contest this morning. Phil Eckert, for 2nd place, is getting a hardcopy of my Asteroid 1618 and one of my homemade bootleg copies of Encounter Critical. The first place winner, Tom Livak, gets Jeff's Crazy Gaming Grab-Bag, containing the following:
  • my other hardcopy of Asteroid 1618
  • a brand new copy of Mutant Future, donated by an anonymous benefactor
  • another of my homemade bootleg copies of Encounter Critical
  • an '81 D&D Basic rulebook (edited by Tom Moldvay, cover by Erol Otus)
  • an '81 D&D Expert rulebook (Cook/Otus)
  • Ley Sector, one of the goofy old Judges Guild sector books for Traveller
  • GW3 Cleansing War of Gareth Blackhand, a module for Gamma World
  • Evil Ruins, a Mayfair Games module from their line of Role Aids AD&D supplements
  • The Dungeoneer, issue 18
  • Dragon issues 71, 86, 170
  • Best of Dragon, volume IV
  • G-1-2-3 Against the Giants
Hopefully you'll get a kick out of some of that stuff, Tom. The rest of you may now officially start being jealous of him.

Incidentally, the Grab-Bag started out as a pile of game books I've got doubles of. I was trying to figure out something cooler to do with this stuff than offering it up on the eBay. That's what led me to the idea of having a contest.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

a bit of a confession

So this post started out as the report on last night's Mutant Future session, but it went off the rails along the way.

Last night I was all set for my players to locate and explore Death Heart, the high level Arduin dungeon that was teased at the end of the previous session. Lord Brain (imagine the Spider-Man foe Myserio, but with a brain-in-a-jar instead of that weird fishbowl, and powers akin to a Thundarr style wizard) had promised the group riches and power in exchange for the spellbook purportedly hidden in the dungeons of Death Heart. Carl, who missed the last session, asked for more details on this proposed adventure. When the rumoured "scorpions the size of your house" were mentioned he argued vehemently for going back to the Howling Tower and continuing to plunder that dungeon. The regulars at my game are usually a pretty easy going bunch, so whenever one person feels passionate about a course of action the rest tend to follow that lead. So I put away Death Heart and got the Howling Tower back out.

I've got to say that running Dave Hargave's The Howling Tower has been a real eye-opener for me. His Arduin Grimoire and the first two or three follow-up books are some of my favorite books from the early years of the hobby. So when I got a chance to snag some of his modules I jumped at the opportunity, assuming I would really dig on 'em.

Turns out I like Hargave's dungeons a lot less than many of his other works. The maps drive me crazy. They're crowded with way too many oddly shaped rooms that are a pain-in-the-ass to describe and almost as hard to draw. The number of utterly pointless secret doors is very high. And only rooms with monsters and treasure are keyed. So if there's a skorpadillo and some magic boots in a room I can tell you the lighting, what the walls and floors are made of, what the air quality is like, etc. But the sixteen empty rooms next door have no descriptors whatsoever. So I end up busting my ass to trick out all the other rooms, because the last thing I want is for a player to say "Uh oh. This room actually has a description, watch out for monsters."

And while I appreciate funhouse dungeons a lot more than some people, I think it's a little weak that none of the stocked rooms have anything to do with one another. The text gives no clues as to how the Priest of Cthulhu in room 16 and the ogre in room 18 interact. Furthermore, it feels weird not having the least idea where either of them go in the dungeon to get something to drink or take a dump. Every serious dungeon I build has at least on crapper and one place where the monsters can go to get a drink of water. Is that crazy?

All the Hargrave dungeons I've looked at are mostly empty time-wasting labyrinths with nothing but monsters dutifully guarding treasure chests. I can't believe I'm complaining about that fact, but I am. Something about his presentation sucks all the fun out of funhouse dungeons for me. So I spend a lot of each session putting that fun back in on the fly. Which can be a great way to spend a few hours twice a month, but at the end of the night I feel tired from all that swimming against the current. I might as well be working off an empty map and some randomly generated monsters and treasures.

Note that I'm not casting aspersions here on Hargrave's skills as a DM. I have no reason to doubt these dungeons were a hoot to play at his table. What I feel is probably at work here is a recurring problem with adventure modules: module writers have to work hard to figure out the difference between writing for themselves and writing for another DM. Maybe Hargrave assumed that I would figure out that of course all the undead on level one are under the control of the evil cleric, etc. On the other hand, if there's a unifying theme to the Howling Tower I'm not finding it. Jamie Mal finds Tegel Manor too funhouse for his tastes, but there's a lot more rhyme (and some reason) to that dungeon compared to Hargave's work.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Billy & Mandy in Beasts & Barbarians

I love the arrival to the dungeon dimension at 1:55 or so and entering the giant castle of evil (reminiscent of the badguy's lair in Time Bandits) at 2:21 or thereabouts. And I totally need a control room manned by a demon pig in my next dungeon!

What's up with those crazy nobles, anyway?

I've decided that for my next non-mutated D&D outing I want more Excalibur/You Know Who & The Holy Grail/Princess Bride style knights, castles, princesses with pointy hats and such. That's why I'm drawing up a list of all the major noble houses of the realm and giving them coats of arms. I want to make sure that arriving at the Thane of Mno's castle isn't just a cookie cutter duplicate of a visit to the castle of the Baron of Kishur. Obviously, a big random chart is in order.

Random Castle Shenanigans (d20)
1. Romance - A member of the household is interested in one of the PCs. One night stand? Stupid crush? Eternal love?
2. Haunting - The unquiet ghost of an ancestor prowls the halls on certain nights.
3. Hidden Catacombs - The place is built over a dungeon.
4. Knight Errancy - One or more of the younger sons are wandering adventurers, possibly off on a crusade.
5. Widow - A higher ranked noble is adjudicating the disposition of the dead lord's affairs, possibly to his own advantage.
6. Damaged Castle - Wreckage caused by last year's siege/monster attack/earthquake still being repaired.
7. Sibling Rivalry - Brothers and/or sisters engaged in petty mischief, may boil over to outright violence.
8. Amazons - The ladies wear the platemail in this family.
9. Family Curse - Lycanthropy? Innsmouth taint?
10. Keepers of the Flame - Protectors of the secret hiding spot of some artifact of the Old Kingdom.
11. Heretics - One or more members of the household not orthodox in their religious views.
12. Festival - Celebration of a wedding, birth, knighting or perhaps a fair or tourney.
13. Rowdy Lads - The lords younger sons and/or bastards are a rough and tumble bunch. Hard to control, but would make for brave adventuring companions.
14. Lurking Monster - Some mankiller has made a lair in the same hex.
15. Black Magic - Someone in the family secretly studies sorcery.
16. Secret Society - One or more members of the household belong to a secret political party, witches coven, etc.
17. Petty War - The barony down the road is getting too uppity, I tells you.
18. Blood Feud - A random noble house are mortal enemies.
19. Strong Ally - Another noble house? A wizard? Some creature?
20. Prisoner - either a member of the household is being held elsewhere or the locals are holding someone of note, awaiting ransom

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Easy Peasy EC PC Contest Results

Wow! Major kudos to everyone who entered my Encounter Critical chargen contest. I had thirty two entries to sift through and I loved so many of them it took me three weeks to pick a winner. I eventually had to conscript my wife and daughter into helping me winnow down all the truly excellent characters to a single finalist. Big thanks to Joshua Cameron, Roger Carbol, Cris Creel, Michael David Jr., Philip Eckert, Kelvin Green, Kirk Hess, Alan Krause, JJ, Tom Livak, Randy Metras, MultiMoe, Zak S., Ryan Schipper, squidman and Adam Thornton for their submissions. The world of Encounter Critical is awesomer for your efforts. And without further ado, here is an excerpt from Tom Livak's winning entry:
Slasirack Mk II, Half Lizard Man/Half Robodroid Criminal

Background: Slasirack was a two bit criminal involved with Blood Claw gang of Thaskaia. When the gang pulled a heist against the local branch of the Pan-Galactic Bank, he was the getaway driver of the damnation van. When they were ambushed by the local law enforcement, the rest of the gang members ditched the van, leaving Slasirack to deal with a barrage of incoming explosive rockets. It was assumed he was destroyed in the resulting explosion, as were the stolen credits. But miraculously he survived, although badly injured, and made off with the credits, which he used to buy cybernetic implants to repair his broken body (opting for the opulent blue diamond eyes). Now not giving the Blood Claw their cut of the loot isn't going to sit too well with them, so Slasirack Mk II is trying to make sure they keep thinking he's dead, while still trying win himself back the credits he had to spend on his body.

Slasirack Mk II was but one of several excellent PCs submitted by Mr. Livak. As winner of the contest he is entitled to his choice of one three gamebooks written by yours truly. He picked the ultra-rare Cumberland Games & Diversions print edition of Asteroid 1618, my hastily written Encounter Critical module. Tom also gets the shiny new copy of Mutant Future donated by an anonymous benefactor and several other game goodies I'm throwing in the prize box. Hope you enjoy it all, Tom!

I had originally announced a prize for but a single winner. But I'm giving away a second prize. At one point I was down to four excellent finalist entries and I realized they were written by only two different dudes, Tom and Philip Eckert. So Phil is also getting one of my books as the Super Secret Bonus Second Place Winner. Here's the info on my fave of Phil's characters.

Ælfbørg, Elf Cyaborg Warrior

Background: After the tragic accident, the operation saved Ælfbørg's life but made him forever an outcast among his own kind. "Once I heard the sounds of the babbling brook with my own ears, saw the wooded glade with my own eyes. Now I sense only the buzz of circuitry and the glitter of diodes. Oh, to be flesh and blood once more!" More machine now than elf, he is on a quest to find and defeat his evil half-brother Wülfbørg, an elf/cyaborg/werewolf whose whereabouts are completely unknown.

Anyway, you should be able to check out all the characters in full in a couple days when I upload the entire batch to the EC yahoo group. Congratulations to Tom and Philip and thanks again to everyone who participated!

Monday, February 22, 2010

just a little stalling

I'll have results of the Easy Peasy EC PC Contest tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this awesome picture:

Thanks of the link, Evil DM.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

my new favorite online toy

I'm having a lot of fun the past couple of days with the Coat of Arms Design Studio from Inkwell Ideas.These arms featured on a magic shielf in my Xylarthen module.
I swiped this design from some Heroscape knights.You can make many much more complicated designs than these two simple ones.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Mutation Compilation

I mentioned a week or two back that I use an expanded mutation chart pillaged built from mutation charts found here and there. Some folks were really digging on this concept and asked me to share this uber-chart monstrosity. I'm not sure I feel comfortable doing that, as all I'm doing is ripping off other people's work. But I am willing to share the list. Originally I had 19 charts to choose from, so the players would roll a d20 to find out which chart to use with a 20 indicating a roll again. Three more charts have been added just yesterday, so I guess my d24 is going to get some use soon.

The Mutation Compilation Master Chart (d24)
1 - Mutant Future human/animal physical mutation chart
2 - Mutant Future human/animal mental mutation chart
3 - Mutant Future plant mutation chart
4 - Dyson Logos's Freak Legion based mutations & drawbacks
5 - Survival RPG mutations chart
6 - Encounter Critical Mutation Powers And Defects chart
7 - fanmade Encounter Critical mutations chart (found it in the official yahoo group)
8 - another fanmade EC mutation chart (also in the Files section of the yahoo group)
9 - Rondo's Severely Messed-Up Mutation Chart (yet another fanmade EC chart)
10 - Supplement V: Carcosa mutations chart
11 - "How Green Was My Mutant" charts for Metamorphosis Alpha from Best of Dragon vol I
12 - The random Hordling charts from page 76 of the original Monster Manual II
13 - Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader mutation chart (the original game, not the new one)
14 - Paranoia Mutant Power Table
15 - mutations chart from a draft post-apoc game that I don't think has been published yet
16 - drawbacks charts from the same unpublished game
17 - Mutant Scavengers of the Ruined Earth! (yes, there is a whole RPG hidden in my charts!)
18 - "Why Is This Mutant Smiling?" chart for Gamma World from Dragon #96
19 - "The Double-Helix Connection" mutation chart for Traveller, Dragon #109
20 - Mutation charts from Savage Swords of Athanor
21 - Joesky's Mutations Table
22 - Person Chaos Attributes chart from the WFRP book Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness as updated by SlackRatchet (I just found this the other day but can't find the link right now.)
23-24 - roll again

Note 1: Since mental and physical mutations are all muddled together in this set-up I give Mutant Animals and Mutant Humanoids a flat d6 rolls on this chart. No d4 from here and d4 from there business.

Note 2: I don't keep the rules to all these extra games handy. Hell, I don't even own some of them. When something comes up that isn't obvious or needs hard stats, the player and I just make something up.

sometimes a Shatnerday is just a Shatnerday

Friday, February 19, 2010

the purple worm looks perplexed for a moment

Dave Hargrave's Arduin Grimoire remains one of my top three favorite sourcebooks from back in the day. Usually I pillage it for crazy-ass monsters, spells and magic items, but every once in a while I re-read the combat and magic rules. Some of these rules are idiosyncratic and weird but others look solid. In the latter category I'd place Hargrave's shield wall, shield bash, and Holmes Basic style initiative-by-Dex rules. And I may swipe his house rule for Gandalf types, whereby magic-users may wield enchanted swords starting at level five. Today I wanted to share an Arduinish dice chart with everyone. This chart is explained in the text, but not given in full table format.

Unintelligent Monster Rampage Chart (d12)
1 - Monster loses interest in party, leaves/retreats
2-4 - Monster is confused, no action this turn
5-8 - Monster targets random foe, roll d8 for direction of travel
9-12 - Monster attacks same target as last round, even if target already dead

Obviously these results won't work in every situation (like pretty much every random table), but I like the intent. Sometimes really dumb monsters decide they're not hungry enough to bother fighting a well-armed party, sometimes they lash out randomly, sometimes they stop to chew on the dead guy and sometimes they just don't know what to do.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the fine art of backstabbery

I'm pretty sure the Sneak Attack rules in D&D 3.x were invented for one simple reason: the players of thieves wanted to be able to Backstab in combat more often. I don't usually play thieves and I'm one of those cranky DMs who think the class is more trouble than it's worth, but I can totally sympathize with the thief fans on this one. A big reason to play a thief is the simple joy of going around shanking fools like it's going out of style.

Somewhere I've seen arguments to the effect that backstab is essentially a non-combat skill. I.e. you can use it if you surprise your foe and not in general melee. My old killer DM (this guy) used to allow a backstab in dungeon fights if you could roll both Move Silently and Hide in Shadows the round before. I never quite figured out why moving silently was important when the half-ogre was bellowing obscenities at the badguys and swords were clanging against armor, but making that Hide in Shadows throw usually got you ignored for a round as well.

Huge dungeon room with nifty architectural features.  Damsel in distress.  Hero with spear.  Gigantic snake.  I give this cover an 'A' for effort.I recently stumbled across another interesting implementation while reading the opening chapter of an old Judges Guild module. Michael Mayeau's Survival of the Fittest is one of those choose-your-own-adventure affairs, designed for first or second level OD&D characters. I haven't read the meat of the adventure yet, as I've been kicking around playing this thing solo to see how it turns out. With no DM around to adjudicate lighting, positioning, etc., the special solo rules give thieves a flat 1 in 6 chance of being able to pull off a backstab at any given time.

That seems like a good rule of thumb to me. In any given round where a backstab seems possible, throw the die to see if the thief can make an attack from behind. If the roll doesn't go the thief's way, they can then decide if they want to Hide in Shadows to set themselves up for backstabbing on the following round.

actual conversation, moments ago

Me: Is Elizabeth [our daughter] dressed?

My wife: Yes, but I'm getting her a different pair of pants.

Me: What's wrong with the pants I got her?

My wife: Nothing. It's just that they're purple and don't go with the green shirt.

Me: Green and purple always go together in the comics.

My wife: Yes, but our daughter isn't the Joker.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

they came from Chainmail

Today I got to wondering about what monsters were in D&D from the beginning. So I got out my copy of Chainmail to put together an alphabetical list.

dragon - red, blue, white, black, green and... purple!
elemental - earth, air/djinn, fire/efreet, water
fairie - mechanically identical to elves, but less likely to serve with the forces of Law
giant spider & insect
giant wolf/dire wolf
halfling - undoubtedly hobbits in an earlier edition

No giant snakes! Anyway, it's pretty clear that most of these monsters are ubiquitous across editions. Fairies became Gray Elf (Faeries) in the original Monster Manual and just Grey Elves after that. Purple Dragons became Purple Worms at the same time. Efreet and Djinn got there own statblocks and piles o' special abilities. Other than those changes, the above listed creatures remain stock monsters throughout the history of the game.

Retroclone publishers might want to check the above monster list against their own monster section. And referees might find it useful to look at this list ask themselves if they make regular use of these critters. And if not, why not? I'm not arguing for any prescriptive adoption of a standardized monster list. I simply think it might be an interesting thought experiment to compare one's own monster usage against these hoary standards. For example, I see that the only humanoid goons listed are orc, goblin and kobold. While I've gotten lots of mileage out of gnolls, bugbears and hobgoblins, it might be cool to cut back on their usage for a while and focus on fewer types of humanoids. Just a thought.

Three unrelated but interesting tidbits from the Fantasy Supplement section:
  • Magic swords are always Lawful
  • The forces of Chaos have Anti-Heroes to counter the Heroes, but no Supervillains to oppose the Superheroes.
  • Wizards can automatically set any wooden siege implement or building on fire. Sweet.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Blitzkrieg Peninsula

So I've been doing some initial work on turning my old Blitzkrieg board into a sandbox wilderness. It's been slow so far because I'm trying to develop a method rather than simply diving in by slinging stuff onto hexes. The first step is simply a listing of what is already to be found in each hex and naming major physical features. Here's what a sample of the Southwest Region (pictured above) looks like right now:

B31 - coast (Duchy of Splitfang), rivermouth (Hurwood Seaway)
B32 - coast (Duchy of Splitfang), water (Western Sea)
B33 - water (Western Sea)
C17 - light terrain
C18 - light terrain
C19 - light terrain (Abbey of St. Jacob)
C20 - coast, cultivated (Abbey of St. Jacob), water (Kurtz Bay), St. Jacob Abbey

Hex C20 is the home of the Abbey of St. Jacob, while C19 contains farms and hamlets that are part of the Abbot's feudal territory. "Light terrain" is my term for an unmarked land hex, which can contain hills, forest, swamps, streams, etc., just not enough such terrain to amount to anything on the 5 mile/hex scale of the board. Each lone hex of cultivated land indicates a barony, probably with a village (100-900 people). Two adjacent cultivated hexes are a county, probably with a town (1,000-9,000 people). Three hexes indicates a duchy with a city (10,000-19,000), while the Red and Blue capitals are cities of at least 20,000.

The northern regions of the peninsula are mildly temperate, shading into semi-tropical in the south. Fashions in the north tend towards renaissance fair garb, while clothing can reach Hyborian levels of scantiness in the far south. Dress in the southwest tends to be less skimpy, as the Church of the Great Gold Dragon dominates religious life in the western regions. The central map regions feature an uneasy mixing of faiths, while the east is full of unrepentant pagans of the neutral and chaotic pantheons.

One neat thing about this top-down approach is that I'm slowly building a list of all the noble families in the region:

Counts of Burbiko
Barons of St. Hubbins
Barons of Finduncle
Counts Deathsinger
Barons of Amphert
Dukes of Auren
Thanes of Eterond
Thanes of Mno
Thanes Starchanger
Barons of Redlash
Barons of Gantar
Dukes of Splitfang
Thanes of Teresha
Counts of Donnan
Barons of Vostorra
Grand Dukes of Cerulea
Thanes of Heriwic
Thanes of Bearhammer
Thanes of Ernforth
Barons of Kertsam
Barons of Kishur
Barons of Swithoo

I made up some of the names for the places and families, others came from my big pile of randomly generated names, which features a vast quantity of print outs from Chris Pound's pages.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shatnerday, now with extra Star Trek

Over at SomethingAwful this week's Photoshop Phriday had a Trek theme. The un-manipulated pic is a photo from the Twilight Zone episode where Shatner sees a gremlin on the wing of the plane he's on. The original was featured for a Shatnerday last June.

Friday, February 12, 2010

encumbrance and magic items

Today I want to start out by unilaterally declaring that all known encumbrance rules are a pain in the ass. When running a game I positively ignore such rules. I might make in play decisions like "that chest is so big two of you will have to carry it" but no one in my game is ever asked to tally how much stuff they are carrying in order to determine their correct movement rate. I just can't be bothered. In a chase scene I will take factors like amount of gear and armor worn into consideration, but I never enforce encumbrance as a rule the way I insist that door opening rolls must be made, for instance.

I've recently been considering a sort of ecumbrance limit, but for magic items only. The idea was inspired by this quote from Rob Kuntz, talking about the time that he and Gary Gygax went and played in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign:
Dave Arneson was (and still is, for that matter) a grand DM. His toughness started at the onset of the adventure--Gary and myself were allowed to choose only three magical items each. Dave thought our item lists were over burgeoned with goodies. Robilar: +3 sword, Girdle of Storm Giant Strength, Boots of Flying; Mordenkainen: Staff of Power, Bracers of Protection AC2, Ring of Wizardry (doubled 4th and 5th level spells). We were each allowed to bring one curative potion in addition.
A while back I mentioned on the OD&D boards that I've long thought that Arneson's on-the-fly decision would make a good rule of thumb for characters visiting from another campaign. But lately I've given serious consideration to using this concept as a strict rule for my next World of Cinder campaign.

Each PC can carry three magic items plus a single disposable item like a potion or scroll. That's all. If you have more magic items than that you have to leave the rest back home. When you find an item on an adventure you can temporarily go over the limit only until such time as an opportunity to drop an item becomes available.

But here's the flipside of this new limit: no more wimpy, boring magic items. No one in the setting owns a sword+1. We're talking Mjolnir and Excalibur level kickass, using the weirdest stuff in the 1st edition DMG and the gods' own gear in Gods, Demigods & Heroes and the artifacts in Eldritch Wizardry as the baseline for magic items. Only the most clever, lucky and/or mighty of NPCs would own magic items under this set-up. Back in June I blogged a bit about this approach to magic items. I talked up the concept a bit at Wednesday night's game and most of the players seemed willing to swap out the Christmas tree effect of many crappy magic toys for one or two awesome items of power.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mutant Future session #12

Last night's Mutant Future session was pretty chaotic. Bob the Human returned to the team after the player missed the previous two sessions and a new PC, a two-headed porcupine, was added to the team, joining up with Ed the three-armed beak-faced mutant and Jynx the demon with extra faces where his kneecaps should be. They continued to pillage the Howling Tower, facing such delights as a giant mutated maggot and and flying manta ray that was actually a form of fungus. The party neatly avoided a simple but deadly trap: a room packed full of deadly ooze. By opening a door from afar (with Jynx's prehensile tongue) they were able to trap the ooze monster in a corridor with doors at both ends. Bob found a magic ring by remembering that he had a sword that detected gold. And Ed looted a necromancer's study, making off with a book bound in human skin that wriggled when touched. That necromancer is going to be pissed when he gets back.

The party then decided that they needed to find a wizard to trade the magic ring and/or book for stuff they could actually use. So they set off for the Laughing Dragon Inn, because Lord Brain sometimes passes through there on his travels. Lord Brain is a Thundarr style wizard, with a brain in a jar where his head should be. The party also met Dergo the Four-Armed Bard, who plays old rock and roll tunes on ukulele and accordion. He's best known for his Hawaiian polka rendition of "Voodoo Child".

Anyway, Lord Brain was very keen on getting ahold of that ring, as it allows one to read the past history of objects. He's got a lair full of techno-artifacts and no user manuals. So he traded the party one suit of Terrazonian Stormtrooper Armor for the ring. Since Dave Hargave invented the Terrazonian Stormtrooper Armor it's pretty effin' sweet: Ac 2, quarter damage from fire, half damage from sonics, no damage from cold, 70% chance of deflecting lasers, 25% of ricocheting bullets, helm makes you immune to gas and blinding attacks, comes with 20 hit points that sit in front of your own (and they self-repair!). The helmet looks a lot like a cylon head, so that's pretty awesome. The only obvious defect is double damage from electrical attacks. (Note to self: more blue dragons.) Bob's the only guy in last night's group who can wear the suit, so he is immediately declared the guy who gets to go in front from now on.

Dergo the Bard also gave the party a lead on a new adventure site. Originally, the exploration of the Howling Tower was predicated on finding a specific ancient spellbook. Turns out they were following a false lead. Several sessions ago the party mixed up two totally different wizard's towers and I didn't correct them. Now they know where the correct wizard's tower can be found and to expect giant scorpions as big as houses. Since this whole crazy expedition started to benefit the now-dead lich PC (still guest-starring as the skull Jynx carries in his backpack for fun), Ed discussed with Lord Brain what he would trade for the legendary Spellbook of the Silver Flame. Lord Brain pretty much offered them anything they wanted: a city to rule, a conquering army, techno-junk from his personal armory, etc. What self-respecting PC wouldn't risk life and sanity when the stakes are that high? I can't wait to see how things go next session.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

some news items

  • TARGA, the Traditional Adventure Roleplaying Games Association, has scheduled another International Traditional Gaming Week, this time for March 21st through 27th. The basic deal is that people are challenged to work some old school gaming into their schedule that week. Run a one-shot for some friends, do a store demo, etc. Since my Mutant Future group should be meeting the Wednesday of that week I should be covered for this event. But I would be more than happy to run a second game that week if anyone in the Champaign-Urbana area wants me to do so. Or if you're willing to come to CU for a visit. Shoot me an email to jrients at the gmail to the dot com and we'll work something out. For that matter, even if it's not that particular week don't ever hesitate to email me and ask me to run something.
  • Also on the TARGA front is the Gary Gygax Pledge-An-Auction, a fundraiser for Gary Con. There's three neat items up for bid right now and I believe more are on the way.
  • Speaking of Gary Con, I just noticed that the event schedule is now available for Gary Con 2. I'm not sure what I want to play, as there's a crapload of interesting stuff. I gotta say, the idea of playing in a game that Rob Kuntz labels for advanced players only gives me the willies.
  • So James Mishler sent me a copy of his latest Wilderlands of High Adventure release, 100 Street Vendors of the City State. I'm really digging it. James always makes great use of the larger Wilderlands setting, but he also takes great pains to make his stuff work in other campaigns with minimal hassle. Want to liven up streetside encounters in your D&D city? Get yourself a copy.
  • Turns out there's a game convention in Indianapolis. Who knew? Who's Yer Con, March 12-14.

Monday, February 08, 2010

interesting EPT mechanics

Here are the mechanical gimcracks from Empire of the Petal Throne that I found intriguing.

marching order rules - I mentioned these in my session write-up. A snap to use and easily adaptable to D&D.

no Read Magic - One of a priests main skills is linguistics, as all scrolls and spellbooks are written in various ancient and/or foreign tongues. I'm not sure if I would use this one, as I think spells that cannot be read by normal means works well in a Vancian system, but it would be easy to adapt if one so desired.

save for half/2d6 - If a saving throw is allowed for half damage and you make the save then you take half damage or 2d6 damage, whichever is lower. This means fireballs and dragon breath wouldn't be auto-kills for low level characters.

Int and Con give combat adds - Being smart and healthy means you can beat people up better. Being an idiot makes you less efficient at murder. I'm not racing out to adapt these ideas to my D&D games, but I'm intrigued.

Simultaneous Initiative - Here's one I don't like. If you lose initiative you get to strike back even if you are killed earlier in the round. I'm willing to put PCs through all sorts of hell, but I just can't bear the idea of killing them with a monster they already killed.

Secondary skills - Called 'original skills' in the text, everybody starts with 1 to 10 non-adventurers skills. In addition to listing fun stuff like 'alchemist' and 'assassin', you also get a little flavor for the setting by noticing skills like 'slaver' and 'courtesan/Don Juan'.

Fighter class skills - Weapon proficiencies are tiered. Any chump fighter can use a spear, but it takes achieving at least fifth level to learn to fight two-handed with sword and dagger. I'm not sold on weapon proficiencies as a necessary part of D&D, but I like the EPT approach better than AD&D method of just picking any four weapons from a huge list. I've seen chargen with even veteran players slowed to a halt because they were pouring over the weapon charts to pick out proficiencies.

Spellcaster class skills and bonus spells - Priests and magic-users start out knowing a few tricks from a very short list of standard powers. At each level-up they can one more item off the standard list, plus one or more rolls to see if they get random bonus spells. I like this combo approach. I'm always fiddling with the rules for magic-users learning new spells and I may try something like this method.

Spell failure - I really, really like spell fumbles in D&D. But starting out with a 60% chance to fail per casting is really harsh. The chance of failure goes down as you level up and a good Psychic stat can lower the percentage further, but it's still hard on newly minted spellcasters. As an aside, can anyone name a spell that fizzled out on the user in any literature from Homer to Howard? As much as I like spell fumbles, I'm trying to figure out where the heck the idea came from.

Critical hits - A natural twenty is double dice, plus roll again. A 19 or 20 on the follow-up roll is an auto-kill. Simple and effective. Less graphically gruesome than my beloved Arduin crit chart, but still pretty cool.

Wrong target percentages - A Dex score of 40 or lower gives you a 10 or 20% chance if hitting the wrong guy in a fight. Again, I like fumbles but the chances seem pretty mean-spirited. Especially when you're trying to blast some punk with a spell. You have to overcome both spell failure and mis-targeting to get a chance to hurt the baddie.

Two handed weapons - You need a high Strength (80%+) to use them effectively and they do one extra point of damage. Pretty straightforward.

Damage Dice chart - Being high level/having many hit dice gives you extra damage dice against low level/hit dice targets. For example, a 6th level fighter taking on one hit die wusses gets three damage dice per strike, allowing him or her the potential of taking out three foes per round. I'm not sure whether I want another combat matrix in my D&D games, but allowing multiple damage dice for one to-hit roll nicely eliminates those handful of d20's that high level fighters have to throw every round in some versions of D&D.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, the Red Skull

Even chairs hate the Red Skull.
The second most hated Nazi in comics sure has a way with words. Panel from "Captain America and the Riddle of the Red Skull", reprinted in The Best of Simon and Kirby (Titan Books 2009).

Saturday, February 06, 2010

more Shatnerday poetry

Big thanks to my buddy Stuart for sending me this clip. You snowed in today, Stuart?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Jeff's Big Dumb Tekumel Adventure

So on Sunday I finally got a chance to run Empire of the Petal Throne, the first published RPG system for M.A.R. Barker's legendarily byzantine Tekumel setting. Put out by TSR the year after D&D, it was the Game Lizards second rpg and possibly the second rpg published by anyone. As such I tend to lump EPT in with Holmes Basic, Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign, the Perrin Conventions and Arduin as early examples of individual referees bending OD&D to their own ends. There's been some jibbajabba on the OD&D boards about publishing a setting-generic version of EPT's mechanics, and after running one session of the game I can certainly see the appeal. There's a nifty little swords & sorcery system hidden under the elaborate backstory and hard to pronounce names. When I first got EPT as a college kid I couldn't see past all that stuff, but nowadays I'm hep to the fact that part of being a good GM involves knowing what sections of the rulebook to ignore. So for this con game I only used as much of the game as I needed and not one iota more.

I own a few EPT items besides the rulebook, but early in the process I decided that I wanted to focus on the core game and not overly junk things up with stuff imported from other products. So when making this adventure I used only one other book, the Gamescience Book of Tables. I've long wanted to use the random dungeon generator in the front of that book for a while now, so that's what I did. The dungeon under the ruined temple of Hyashra ended up as a three level affair with not quite 90 total rooms. Thanks to the random dungeon charts I had some unguarded treasure, traps, secret doors and magic fountains sprinkled across my maps. But I also added/edited/amended the generator results to suit my nefarious purposes.

On the convention schedule I put down that I would take a dozen stalwart adventurers and the sign-up list filled up, but only ten people showed up. This was not a surprise. I was running a Sunday morning game and some people just can't make it no matter what they think when they sign up. The ten people that showed up had a high degree of overlap with previous Winter War outings when I ran Under Xylarthen's Tower for OD&D, Rat on a Stick converted to Moldvay Basic D&D and "The Pyramid of Ra-Dok" for Labyrinth Lord. So Michael, Chris, Joe, Kathleen, Josh, Doug, Brad, Jeremy, Shumate and Marc all knew what kind of shenanigans they were in for.

I started by randomly distributing out my random pregens. Some of the best and worst of the available PCs came out right away, but most of the time I couldn't tell who had an awesome character and who was running one of the suck monkeys. In this way gaming is a lot like poker: a strong hand certainly helps but a good player can do more with a pair of deuces than a greenhorn can with a full house. Especially in a system with fewer mechanical points of contact.

After taking a few minutes to figure out what there characters could do, I read a slightly tightened up version of this introduction. The basic deal is that the PCs are all foreigners in a society so xenophobic that even changing residence from one crummy Foreign Quarter flophouse to another slightly less crummy Foreign Quarter flophouse requires a permit. A bureaucrat with a nympho-cultist girlfriend is holding up the paperwork until they bring him a sacred statue from a ruined temple full of monsters. So into the dungeon they go.

The bureaucrat sends three slaveboys along to carry the torches for the party and lead them to the dungeon site. I was surprised no one asked why the slaveboys had been assigned. In Tekumel torchbearing is a low class task that no self-respecting adventurer would stoop to perform Fortunately for the party, two of the PCs in play had 'slaver' as a secondary skill, so they never acted up. Except when one of the PCs made lewd advances toward them. Somewhere along the way the player of Changuu the Bearded decided his character was a bit of a lech.

One of the many mechanical gimmicks in EPT that I enjoyed in play was the marching order rules. In a standard 10 corridor the following rules apply:
  • Three warriors may march and fight side-by-side
  • Unless one or more are using two-handed weapons, in which case on two may fill a rank
  • Unless the weapon is a two-handed sword, in which case only the tw-handed wielder will fit
  • Meanwhile, priests and magicians fit four a rank, presumably because they are skinnier/wimpier
There happened to be four spellcasters in the party, so they formed the middle rank. After inquiring whether spears could attack from the second rank (I ruled they could) setting marching order became pretty straightforward but not entirely trivial. Of course several times the marching order broke down. One great encounter with multiple rooms of rat-people involved one sub-group in the Temple of the Ratlings, a second group outside the room and a third group forty feet down the hallway trying to fend off rattish reinforcements. It was glorious.

One of my little disappointments with the run was the second room on level one. It was designed to mercilessly kill the foolhardy. In that room some Tekumelish ghouls had burrowed up from some obscene pit deep below the surface of the planet, and they still lurked not far down the tunnel. Every turn spent searching the room resulted in a 2 in 6 chance of 3d6 baddies pouring out of that tunnel at d6 appearing per round. And if someone ventured into the tunnel at thirty feet in they would be killed and eaten. No save, just screams and the wet, sloppy sounds of the rending of flesh. Too bad they didn't stay long and no one was crazy enough to go into the tunnel.

Instead, the party eventually encountered some not-completely-hostile Pe Choi (a vaguely centauroid insect/reptile sort of race) who passed along that the statue they sought was on level two. And they weren't even lying! Of course the first way down the party locates is a ladder to level three, but Chris pointed out that just because the group had descended didn't mean they were on the right level. Eventually they found stairs up to level two, but they had to kill some disgusting giant carrion beetles first.

My favorite encounter had to be the Secret Treasury of the Temple. A room behind a secret door and only accessible via a very narrow passage. So narrow only the skinny ass mages might fit into the room. Inside is a trio of treasure chests. Absolutely everyone at the table immediately assumes that two of the chests contain fabulous treasure while the third is home to a deadly trap. Never being one to flinch from a good cliche, this is exactly what I have set up. Two wizards end up in the room alone and start opening the chests. One gets 10,000 friggin' gold pieces. The other wins a shield +2 which he will later sell to another party member for a hefty sum of gold. The third chest is full of purples poison gas, which fills the room and starts to roll down the corridor towards the rest of the party.

This is where it gets awesome. Pretty much every M-U in Empire of the Petal Throne starts out with the spell Control of Body. This allows all sorts of stupid yogi tricks like unbreakable grip on an item, entering suspended animation, or holding one's breath indefinitely. But all spellcasters in EPT also must roll spell failure with every casting. For first level PCs there's a whopping 60% chance to fail, possibly modified by a high Psychic stat. Both wizards make there roll, allowing them to continue to operate in the poison fog. Meanwhile, the rest of the party closes the secret door, sealing in the two wizards and writing them off as dead! Furious pounding on the secret door leads the party to re-open the door and a third wizard uses breath control to join the first two. The three of them cram as much gold as possible into their packs and bring out the 1,000gp left. Look! We brought you treasure!

You can read some other incidents in the game over on Ch'gowiz's blog and see pictures of these rowdies as well. Maybe over the weekend I'll blog a little bit about some of the groovy mechanical aspects of EPT.

no need to be redundant

Next week I had planned on writing a review of Goblinoid Games' new Advanced Edition Companion, but Jamie Mal already said everything I wanted to say in his review at Grognardia.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Blind Sniper

Sniper! was a little wargame of man-to-man fighting on the Eastern front in WWII, publihsed by SPI in 1973 and written by wargames guru Jim Dunnigan. I've never played Sniper! outside of the Winter War variant, so I can't really tell you how the original game plays, other than it uses hidden movement and written orders, both of which are crucial factors in the local con version.

In the Blind Sniper tournament there are no teams. Every player is trying to win individually via one of two methods: Visit all five Objective Hexes and exit the board OR be the last one standing when the smoke settles. The game starts immediately after the Saturday afternoon live auction, usually 4pm or so, and the game continues until it is done. I'm told this year the last turn wrapped up about 4am. I didn't stick around since I was dead well before that and wanted to get some sleep before my Tekumel game the next morning.

The game takes so dang long because one moderator (local gaming legend Bruce Gletty) has to process all the written orders and write individual responses. At the start of the game there are usually 20 people on the board, so it takes the dude a while despite keeping the written orders as dirt simple as possible. Each turn is two seconds, so something as simple as running up or down a staircase takes a whole turn. Switching weapons also takes a whole turn. When just running around the hexmap you get 10 movement points. The map includes a little compass with hex facings labeled A through F, so a move could be written as simply as "6B 4C". Or maybe your last turn results showed "Man in hex 2210" so you simply write down "blast him!"

Which brings us around to the inherent tension of the game. Everyone starts with a gun of some sort. Some years everyone gets a pistol. This year we all got a shotgun with a single round it in. Sprinkled around the map are more guns you can pick up: rifles, machine pistols, flamethrowers, etc. And some satchel charges with variable fuses you can set and leave for others to find. So here you are running around the map trying to tag the objective hexes when you stumble across some shnook who's only a couple of hexes away. You see him and he sees you. What do you do? If you both run you get to continue the game. If you run and he shoots you're probably at least wounded (fewer movement points, worse to-hits), possibly crippled and maybe dead. If he runs and you shoot maybe you'll get him, maybe your turn is wasted due to bad dice. If you both shoot you could end up spending the rest of the game looking eye to eye and bleeding out on the ground.

The critical psychology here is that none of the players want to exit the game without having gotten off some shots at someone. This leads to a lot of sub-optimal behavior. This year I made a pact with myself to run at every opportunity and I ended up dead with that one starting shotgun shell still in my weapon on turn 11. Frustrating. I had been doing well avoiding danger, except for one run-in with my brother-in-law Jim. We both ended up in the same hex at the end of a turn so Bruce called us aside and asked whether we wanted to shoot or run. I declared "run" and went back to my seat. Jim apparently opted to run as well, because he didn't kill me until several turns later, when I ended my movement on a hex containing a satchel charge he had armed. It exploded before my next movement opportunity.

Anyway, here's part of the map, in all its pink and white glory:

Given that the scale is obviously 2 or 3 meters per hex, I have long wondered what the hell is up with that one hex wide building near the center of that pic. What use is a building that narrow and long, one story tall, with extra wide doors? One of the trickiest things about the Winter War variant of Sniper! is that everyone picks there starting hex. You can choose any outdoor hex that does not contain an exterior ladder. For many years I chose one of the three places on the map where a building corner touched the map-edge, creating a corner with only a single open hexside. I hated the idea of starting with my back to someone. But then somebody else had that same idea and we both started in the same hex and blasted each other on turn 1. I think that was one of my nephew's doing. This year I looked at the shotgun rules and saw that they were ineffective past 8 hexes, so I opted to start at the end of a nice broad street. Three others started in view but not in range, so I just ran like hell to the nearest building interior.

I think the best I've ever done in this game is 4th place, but it continues to be a fun way to spend one Saturday a year.

two items

  • Big thanks to everyone who entered the Easy Peasy EC PC contest! I hope to announce a winner and release a compilation of freshly minted starting PCs in a week or so.
  • I was going to blog today about Winter War's Blind Sniper event, but upon further consideration I wonder how many readers care. Should I skip that and go straight to the Tekumel game?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Winter War recap, part 2

For Saturday at Winter War I focused on two main things: playing boardgames and finishing my Empire of the Petal Throne dungeon. Yes, I really do wait 'til the day before to finish my con games. Unless I don't bother finishing at all. In these matters my motto has long been "If you've got pregens you've got a con game". And for a simple enough game I can skimp on that. I use to worry that my tardiness in preperations was a disservice to my players, until I realized that some of my best DMing happens when I am working with a shoddy dungeon map and a half-formed premise. But for EPT I really wanted at least three complete levels. In between finishing level 2 and creating level 3 whole cloth I managed to get in a lot of other fun stuff.

Legendary downstate Illinois gamestore Castle Perilous was open for business when I arrived Saturday morning. Armored Gopher Games is my home turf and store of choice. I'm happy to buy any and all game stuff I can from them. But Castle Perilous always has something neat in their used section. This time I found an issue of Pegasus (one of the old Judges Guild mags) and the Boot Hill module Range War. Spent five buck apiece for them. Nowadays Boot Hill is one of the few RPGs lacking both robots and witches that interests me and I'm always up for something from Judges Guild. Unfortunately, the Castle didn't have any Bella Sera cards. My daughter asked me to pick some up for her at the con and Castle Perilous was my last, best hope for little cards with ponies on them.

For the past several years lunchtime on Winter War Saturday has involved my sister and I getting together at the nearby Monical's Pizza with whoever else we can connive into joining us. I don't think I've mentioned ol' what's-her-face in a while on this blog, but my sister Jenn has really gotten into boardgames and Euro-games over the past five years or so. She now has her own Wednesday night game group in her home and she can pretty much whoop me at any game where I can't hide behind a screen and change the rules to suit my purposes. Her boyfriend Kirk was with her for the second year in a row and my wife Amy joined us at the restaraunt. The official fifth wheel of the group was Dane, a member of my Mutant Future group and hoot to hang out with. We had a nice meal but the guy sitting in the booth behind Jenn kept turning around and staring at us. I made eye contact with him more than once but he was undeterred. At first I thought he was one of the con-goers (the place was lousy with games, being right next to the hotel.) and was waiting for a moment to jump in on the conversation. But no, he was just the world's least subtle eavesdropper.

The lunch break on Saturday is also the time of the live game auction, which wasn't quite over when we got back. Dane ended up buying three different lawyer-themed games for the minimum bid. The only thing I bid on was a copy of Age of Mythology. Have you seen the plastic pieces in one of those? Perfect monsters for 1:72 scale, I tell's ya. But it went for well over the cheapskate level I bid at. I sold a bunch of stuff this year and made out like a bandit on that end. I felt a little silly when my sister bought one of the items in the auction. Especially since it was a birthday present from my brother-in-law, who was also in the room. When I first got it I was all "Puerto Rico for the PC! Huzzah!" But six months later it was still sitting on my computer desk, box still sealed. It might as well go to someone who will actually play it.

After the auction comes the event I consider the centerpiece of the convention: the Doctor Metcalf Memorial Blind Sniper Tournament. Some of you grognards might be familiar with Sniper!, an old SPI game about man-to-man fighting on the streets of Stalingrad. The Winter War variant is basically an every-man-for-himself hidden movement shoot-out, usually with 15 to 20 people scrambling around the map. The game can last up to twelve hours but most of the players are dead well before that. Since the referee (Bruce, one of the founding fathers of the local game scene) takes a lot of time processing written orders and writing responses, whole other boardgames are played during the tournament.

This year I played three other games before being killed on turn 11/hour 6 of the game. My sister and her fella crashed the Sniper room and played Alhambra Dice with Jim, Dane and I. I did absolutely terrible at this game but I got to roll a bunch of funny dice, so who cares? Jenn and Kirk headed off for their Settlers of Catan tournament, so the three of us remaining broke out one of Dane's newly-acquired lawyer games. We tried Judge for Yourself, which is a basic 'guess the actual verdict' sort of thing. What made the game fun was that on some turns you are part of a jury and must return a unaminous verdict, so when someone talks you into a wrong decision you can give them lots of crap about it.

The last game of the night for me was Endeavor, a Euro-type game of brutal colonial exploitation and power politics. Dane had to leave, but Jim and I were joined by his son Ian and a couple of other Sniper players. It must be an easy game to pick up, as I managed to finish third, ahead of the other newbie and someone already familiar with the game. If you like Puerto Rico but wish there was a map to fight over, you might want to give Endeavor a try.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Winter War recap, part 1

So last weekend was my local awesome con, the thirty-seventh annual Winter War shindig. I've been going every year since 1992 and running games at it going back either to then or '93. I'd have to say this was one of the best Winter Wars I've attended. I had a couple of rough spots during the course of the weekend, but they had very little to do with the con and were more about issues arising mainly in my own skull. For example, I positively did everything in my power to screw up my own schedule Friday. That was very frustrating, but I got my act together by the time my game started.

Friday was still a hoot though, as I was able to have a nice lunch with Michael Shorten, the Chgowiz. Not only did we eat at my favorite Mexican place, but Mike bought. That guy's all heart, let me tell you. He played in both my games and the events were awesomer for it. When I arrived at the con around noon lunchtime only two people had signed up for my Encounter Critical game. That threw me for a loop. I eventually ended up with four players total: Mike, rogue attorney Chris Tichenor, my brother-in-law Jim (who may have only signed up out of pity, I was feeling a little dejected about the situation when I saw him at supper) and Marc, teenaged heir apparent to my local game store (i.e. his folks own the place). Missing from the roster were Josh, Kathleen and Doug, normally stalwarts in my games. Later I found out they were running their local White Wolf LARP that night. I'd be put out by that except that I feel confident that their game didn't involve unicorn-riding pink robots kidnapping Gary Gygax, so I win.

Everybody here a Futurama fan? If not, you should be. My Encounter Critical game was designed around one of the "What If?" type segments from the episode "Anthology of Interest". In the segment in question the only survivors of the destruction of the universe are Fry, Vice President Al Gore and his Action Rangers (Gary Gygax, Stephen Hawking, Nichelle Nichols and chess computer Deep Blue). I wanted to find out what happens to those people after the end of the universe. This involved me ripping off various TV shows, movies, etc., to populate the Great White Void where the universe used to be. Most of the game was spent exploring the Land of Fiction from the ancient Dr. Who episode "The Mind Robber" and a monster-infested Yellow Submarine.

Marc managed to get Stephen Hawking killed by hotdogging on his rocket-propelled wheelchair and the poor kid also missed all the cues that the cave full of statuary was haunted by a medusa, so Fry was added to the collection of stoned victims. Both those losses happened in the first half hour of play. At that point Marc caught on that in my games for every action there is an equal and opposite fiasco, so he managed to keep his third PC (Xanthor, inexplicably) alive through the end of the adventure. Meanwhile Uhura, the Vice President and Deep Blue were able to rescue Gary from the aforementioned Pink Robots. Eventually the group combined the Mind Robber's Brain Machine, the Rainbow Hippie Power Crystal of the Yellow Submarine, and Deep Blue's chess processors to build a Universe Reboot Device. Only Deep Blue decided that this time the machines should be in charge, so everyone woke up in the Matrix. And somewhere along the way the PCs ended up driving around in the Arc II, just 'cause they could.

This might've been my dumbest EC adventure yet.

Monday, February 01, 2010

contest reminder

The Easy Peasy EC PC Contest ends tomorrow, so it's not too late to hop on board!

Next post: convention rundown.