Friday, June 5, 2020

The Fifth World: Tawwashu

The map below was drawn in the darkness of a parking lot rather quickly, while I was trying to layout a tales worth of events located in that place after having typed it up. Between the typing and the map drawing, it was one hour and about twenty minutes. An area from a river bed to eroded set of hills almost two hundred yards above the areas where the river flooded in this valley. Some five kilometers from east to west, where about eight hundred humans and dwarves dominated over about 1,400 intelligent ("Speaking") living beings. To the overlords' bemusement the number of beings that show up weekly is growing by the handful almost weekly.   

What I didn't know that that the water creases in the paper that I drawing on would work out to such a wonderful topographical map of the area of game play that I was running.

Little did I know that where the side of my hands would crease the paper as I worked the "sandbox of play"  into such a topographical map without elevation lines.  You see, while I was busy picturing concentric, if irregular, elevation lines from the riverbed outward, on the left, into the rolling to jagged hills from upper left to lower right; the paper's creases would reflect the ridge lines within any certain elevation.
Now my players did not notice but while they were living out the soap opera starting before them, I knew exactly where they stood while things were going on.

Maybe I am too old Army. Maybe I was watching a map fill up in front of me while my role-players phoned it in. The delusion of a guy that knows how to call in artillery and provide security, while the actors before me performed characters discovering themselves in a RPG setting that isn't commonly published by better known games.

The Characters being:
Alanthea (a time traveling Delver from way off Peakvale)
Horex (Ironman Curtis trying out T&T for the first time)
Wunn (Jack's T&T character from Athebes)
Zhree (Shelly's crash test dummy for the campaign)
Tuu (My NPC after Wunn showed up) (1,2,3... get it)

Sometimes you just have to sit back and hate the players, but love the Characters. Follow us into Irkalla.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Getting Out and Meeting People

In the time when everybody can do a quick web search on their smart phone, I still am one of the few that tries to rely on memory when meeting people, even when my smart phone is a pocket away. I don't know why really. One of the reason's why is because of a long history of making major faux pas. I mean dudes, I am in my wet-brained fifties so why stop now?

A tale of the RPG-historic past, the two Daves. I am always mixing up Dave Hargrave and Dave Arneson. Even when I have met and chatted with them both. Sometime back in early 80s, maybe it was '79, I met Hargrave in Texas  and all I could remember was parchment works that I picked up, I just knew it wasn't Chainmail, so I complimented him on his Blackmoor work. His face turned stormy and he would not make eye contact for the rest of the small S-F convention. Pity because I had copies of his Arduin Grimoire and Runes of Doom a bike ride away, that I would've paid the two dollars to get signed when I saw his booth later.
About 25 years later in Indiana the wife was getting her Blackmoor book signed by Dave Arneson, and I told him how I really liked the "Trilogy." After some chit-chat we clarified that I was confusing Hargrave's parchment bound books with the parchment of Blackmoor. Luckily I was familiar with Don't Give Up the Ship and knew of the mythical Strategos. I am glad that I kept my mouth a little shut because until last night, I thought that Strategos had been published by SPI in the 70s.

Despite that tale, and more than a few others, I am glad that I don't go around being all-informed on exactly what the other person that I am talking to is doing or has done. Because when it works there is an honest connection with the semi-celebrity that I am talking to. And when it's bad things don't usually fall to pieces. This is especially after I hear too many names from this or that blogger or YouTuber and their particular relationship with this or that other blogger or YouTuber. Then there are the Twit Wars, that read like nice Mexican soap operas from afar but rarely are worth watching the sausage being made up close.
An example of how this worked out well for me when I had a drink with David Carradine, whom I knew was. I had bought him a scotch the day before because I liked his work in Kill Bill and he was at my side of the bar.  James Bamber(?), whom I did not recognize until Monk told me later, walked up. I suppose he walked over to us because things were so low key he must've thought I was safe if not somebody important. For twenty minutes of my life, I was bored chatting with TV show actors while my friends were just amazed half a restaurant away.
Truth be told, had I known I wonder if I had the balls to propose producing a T&T movie with them as leads. I mean I've had a script sitting in some manila folder in the work office since '99. I mean Carradine as the wizard Khazan and Bamber as my square-jawed protagonist? That would've been one heck of a Sci-Fi Channel (pre-Sy-Fy days) Saturday night movie for sure. I am sure it would've happened. As always, I just hadn't read everybody's social profile while sipping scotch and talking about the heat.

Maybe I should try harder? Nah. Sounds like work and this is supposed to be fun.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Luxxe (AWaW: 5th World)

A BRAND NEW ACRONYM So like follow-up A World a Week posts are now AWaW. That alone is worth its own blog article. Unfortunately this posting is going to be cluttered up with stuff about the Fifth World campaign I happen to typing up and stringing together. Sorry to be such a boor.

So The Lands of Luxxe
The city-state of Sevven is actually the focus of where the PCs will be starting out, but this regions placement on the map and where I tend to take pictures from while at my work desk, has made it the prominently noticed feature on the drawing. At the same time, Salway's hogboglins figure are apart of the area's dominating cultures, so Luxxe it is
 " The Oldest City of the Fifth World. This is where the civilization began according to the inscriptions around its sixteen city gates. It is also the largest of city-states of Beast Men that still remain on the surface of the planet.
Luxxe came together when the economic benefits of slavery versus just eating the captives started to take hold among progressives...Then during the Splash things changed. While these lands were spared everyone drowning, the world around them would never be the same."

The city-state is ruled by a Council of Elders. These are usually the leaders of the city's different factions that tend fall along species lines and their affinity to one another. 
" ... The Lizard Queen
This crocodile-headed woman is the leader of the Hissers, a coalition of reptilian humanoids that make up over half of the population of lands of the city-state when lumped together...
Armed Contingents:
Amphibian Corps- The main manpower and attack troops of the Luxxe Navy. They are often led by the Lizard Queen in major battle.
Man Bear-Pig
Mannu-Barpigg is from the hogboglins of the swampy lands of Wuldbe to the west of Luxxe. He is the city-boy of these clans as well as the leader of many of the pig-faced humanoids that dwell in the city...
Armed Contingents:
The Rooters- Currently led by General One-Eye Two-Tusks, this is one of the major gangs of the city-state as well as the main enforcers of the Slavers Guild.
The Gnome King
A large footed Hob that is a tenth level Wizard and the accepted chairman of the Gnomes’ Consortium. “Gnomes” is the term for shorter humanoids in Luxxe. This commonly means goblins, hobs, piltdowners, and many others, sometimes including the ratlings and frog folk...For half a century, the Hob has been able to keep profits growing and therefore staying in charge.
Armed Contingents:
Hoard Hordes-The cutest band of little cut-throats ever.
First Wizard of the Wizard’s Guild Lume-Incarnate
The mortal avatar of the Wizard-God Lume. He is a capable Wizard as well, being eleventh level and all. He is the head of the city-state's Wizards Guild. He is often taken to be the king of humans in the lands of Luxxe...
Armed Contingents:
Tower Guardians- These are very much feared soldiers throughout Luxxe. More than a few of the organizations movers and shakers are horned-helmeted Orcs. Those that aren’t orcs are sadists or masochists that really like a lot of discipline.
K-Earth, The Rebel Wizard
Being born...before the Splash, this fourteenth level Wizard is immortal has a storied past. He sought to abolish slavery. The other rulers of his homelands thought that he has gone too far and declared him “the Rebel.”
Armed Contingents:
Swampers- Folks that speak proper Luxxe but do not like slavery. Often persecuted so they stick to more isolated parts of the lands.

And then there are neighboring territories of Lake Glittertop, the Dawn Swamps, and the area of Wuldbe. I'll go into them a later.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

A World A Week: Fifth World, The Delta

So it was a really slow night at work last night. So slow I was chatting up people on my ancient flip phone looking to chat. Of course, Monk, a fellow night-shifter was there. So while talking about things, he found a convention that he wanted to attend as Adventure Gaming bruders. Rich coming from him as he always is "done with gaming" every couple of years, but hey I appreciate the inconsistency as I really like gaming with him. Of course where he wants to go is noted for its "Old School"-ness. I was a bit blank on any response. Monk then said, "We could run TnT which is old school I hear."
So after about fifteen more minutes of discussion, I am running T&T again, but only 7th edition and its as bronze-age as well as gonzo as I want it. Here's my fifth T&T start-up world and about twelfth  campaign source in forty years.
The Three River Delta
Good convention FRPG games come from a mixture of GM-timing, nifty idea (usually meaning title), and thought-out but understated world. Welcome to the last part of that equation, The Fifth World. This world, sometimes called "Sevven," is the fifth out of nine worlds where the lords of light and masters of chaos duke things out.  The city-states of Luxxe and Sevven have been antagonizing each other for about seven hundred years now. A third city-state, Buggle, has arisen in just the last couple of centuries, where the ant-heads have developed a beachhead on the above ground world.

There is a whole lot going on here because I have more than a few notes from many, many years of working on this or that about this RPG setting. If I am going to be running Our Game again, I might as well get it all out there, because I suspect there will be storms and pratfalls ahead so let's make it worth my time. By the way did I ever mention that I like to adventure while I game? Stomp the ticks out of your boots already.

So let's talk indigenous sorts.

Thanx to Jon Salway for getting me a little more in-depth than I usually do. People that have known me for a while will recognize various "critter-folk" while most OSR folks that are on about which gay orcs that they would date or marry will be rather shocked (SHOCKED) to say the least.

Orcs- Humans in the service of Orcus, the Ugly. Early on they decide that they are barbarians and start wearing horned helmets. They work their way up through the ranks of deplorable folks. With enough horrible things done, they get taken to a temple of Orcus and get possessed by a demon. Wallah, thank the PC for the service, pity no one cares.

Goblins and Hobgoblins- "Orks" originally spawned by Orcus when he captured elves and mutated them into these beings. Goblins are short and like to wear spiked-helmets while hobgoblins like to wear NAZI uniforms. They are not fated to be evil, but can really relate to evil ways of doing things. Many overcome their backgrounds and get Real OSR aficionados all worked up with their profile pictures at dating sites in the ethersphere.

The Og- Neanderthals. The males can't speak beyond grunts and whimpers and are called "Og-men." They are noted for their amazing strength. The females can speak and craft magic and are called "She-og". It should be noted that the She-og often speak about the Og-men as if they aren't in the same room when they're standing right there.

Umanity- A mixture of humans and other species that try to work towards being humane. They appreciate the benefits of understanding each other languages almost as much as they appreciate math with its ability to quantify how much grain is available before people start starving.  They also have developed some of the best stuff ever like cotton, fishing nets, metal tools and weapons, plus the sail and wheel. They write a lot of stuff down in languages that other people around them can understand. It is said that because of this "literacy" the Wizards Guild cryptic communications comes easier to them than most.

The Beast Lords- People of their time, this collection of hybrid species helped shaped the cosmos into what it is today. Oddly enough, they are not all that appreciative of change.

The Ogrish- The ogres and the piltdowners. Ogres are male Og that not only speak and have psychic powers, they tend to be giants. No one with og blood within them can refuse an Ogre that is taller than themselves.
Piltdowners are goblin-sized ogres that are as strong as humans or hobgoblins twice their size. 

After the Splash
This is the Fifth World. When the Great Flow separated the cosmos, the struggle between between Light and Chaos formed the Nine Worlds.

The city-state of Luxxe is the oldest city in the world. It is here where the Beast Lords consolidated their holdings when the rest of the world around them changed. They gathered their boats and created navies that would block the cities of the lands when they choose to try venturing out into seas. It is from the vast Wuldbe swamps around them that the Council of Luxxe enslaves its minions.

Sevven a former trading post for Luxxe, has been its own capital for almost 700 hundred years now. Its three cities, Lagash, Girsu, and Nina, have proved themselves to be the new power of the world. Here Unmanity thrives against the forces of regression. Still its challenges are no where near defeated.

Not understanding the struggles of yore, the ant-heads of the Hives, came onto the surface lands from below. There they founded Buggle. Made up of many species, like Sevven, but its insect-like overlords are more than willing to eat its denizens to expand its profitable territories.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Scrap Pile Multiverse Mysticism

I played in Iron Curtis's ICONs scenario last night. This period can only be described as a Pointlessly Dark Age in terms of superhero-ish atmosphere in the Scrapiverse. Reminiscent of the 90s where Marvel and then DC had to have anti-heroes and even their new "heroes" were really just jerks given way too much attention and wrapped in plot armor. As well as a lot of women in bikinis without hands and feet, given the PBS-watching crowd making up the ten to four players there's even male frontal nudity.  Luckily it's while the GM cringes that the players are going there. It's not all Bob Liefeld and Frank Miller, it's got Alan Moore! Despite everything, I am really enjoying myself as a PC during his campaign. But that's not what I am here to talk about.

We as a group with rotating GM authors, are really rocking the multiverse sub-genre of comicbookdom. We haven't been exchanging notes or trying to one up each other, we've both been playing in each others games, borrowing the others PCs/NPCs and referring to bits of lore and otherworldly places that the other has brought up. Of course, there are the fundamentals of Peryton's 80s-Verse and Marvel Comics' Micronaut Baron Karza-Verse, but we get rather supernatural more so than umm... science fiction(?)y.

We are really going places. Our serious Vodoun contingent is giving Marvel's Brother Voodoo a run for his money. There's Voodoo-Kachoo(sp?), Momma Midnight, Samedi Sam and Zombira (the Nick and Nora Charles of Veil-Keepers). Then there is the pseudo-Supersrting crowd, Professor Hemm, Karza, and Cico (pronounced "psycho"). On the mythical front, we have our own Asgardian Cloud Goddess, and the being of chaos Goblin (Professor Hemm's alter-ego). The Bible-thumpers get Shazahim and Emudan. Heck Lovecraft is working his in with Cthulhu Boy and Song or Ry'leh (the Nick and Nora Charles of madness). The only things missing so far is a humanoid mass of vegetation and a wizard with a serious cape. I am sure that we're going to get there, but we're busy with a couple of things that I can mention here just yet.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Quick Look at Star Adventurer

John Tarnowski just released his take on sci-fi adventure gaming for the multiple-polyhedronic dice D&D format, or OSR, through his periodic release platform, RPGPundit Presents. In the product line's one hundredth release Star Adventurer. As for one of those releases, it is souped up and even a little fancy which is what anyone expect from the 100th issue of anything. It's also not a bad S-F RPG system framework at all.

Like any good piece of fiction, the title tells you what you need to know up front. In RPGs it works especially well, if it tells the reader what the PC is most-likely going to be doing. So without any ado, Star Adventurer tells the reader where they are going to be, among the stars, and what they are going to be doing, adventuring. The subtitle "Old School Science Fiction Rules" tells the reader what a page to four of introduction would in another work. After some credits, the work gets into things right away. The title works for me better than a lot of s-f works of late.

Characters can be as exotic or humanocentric as the players and GM likes. The Races are listed types not specific species with descriptions and some background notes. If such details are needed, the group at the table if not the scenarios authors can come up with those details. The Classes are the D&D tropes that one can find in sphere fantasies especially since the release of Star Wars back in 1977. The Experience mechanics define not only predilections of Race/Class optimization, but a clever GM can work out a whole universe tone from setting up the narrative for how the advancement takes place.

The work is economical in covering areas that RPGers expect to be reading about. Skills, combat concepts, and technology level setting equipment are done up as one would expect, but in quick single paragraph explanations. Especially succinct is the Starship Combat section, and the "ship as a PC" is handled without any explanation by providing a Character sheet for the vessels. The whole product is about thirty-five that can be read and played in about half an hour, given a quick crowd.

As much as I want to find something wrong with this product, I have my own SFRPG core rules dammit, I can't. It is a Godzilla of science fiction role-playing products, by sticking to the OSR framework and avoiding the temptation to fill in a few blanks here and there. The atmosphere can implied from the artwork and the equipment listed, or it can be worked around. I hope to read at least a couple settings for the RPG in the future that aren't just expansions from the Gonzo campaign.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Flexing Haunted House Muscles

I haven't been posting chronicles of the game sessions that I have ran since February. For that players, I apologize but I have been frantically working on my Spacers(TM) material. Material that will be published for the eyes of maybe a few dozen people or so, but I don't care. The stuff has been in the making since the 90s and I need to get it out. So the sessions and the project work are coming off a bit like a job. But hey, our sessions provide diversion in a time where folks need to remember how to have imagination and we're doing it together.

Last night though, 4.May.2020, I took a break with Crawlspace. Horror and the TACK system that comes soooo easy to me. The special treat of it was trying out my horrible fates for haunting hunters theme that has been going since the early Aughts anew, with a run of Bumps in the Night. The scenarios where the PCs are the bumps in the night. They're either ghosts or ghost hunters bumping into each other because of all the equipment that they're wearing. Now this was "Bumps Part Two" mostly because as a concept I've ran it before. A couple paranormal investigators come early to the game, look around the house and get dead, becoming ghosts, more ghosts, on the site. The other PCs arrive later and don't know the ghost PCs. As good as that session, with a different name, worked a few years ago, there were some things that needed some work. Specifically getting the ghost PCs to be more than imps or guardian angels, in short giving them a sense of drama beyond stage pranks or being life guards. 
The players that would arrive at last night's session, were the A-List. There's Iron Curtis, who is like the stunt man of role-players in my RPG endeavors these days. His flexibility in crafting a character persona is rather amazing, and just when he is about to outdo even me, he can pull back and swat a co-player on the ass, figuratively speaking, and get everyone involved. Then there was Peryton, my wife, who is like the Milla Jovovitch of Crawlspace as she has a PC that has been in eight different scenarios, and three other recurring PCs in other ones. Then JerryTel showed up. JerryTel, who is a very strong role-player to begin with, doing a reprise of his role as reality TV-host/Ghost hunter, Sven, the Torpedo from Toledo, from the very first The Horrible Fate of the Haunted House Hunters around a  decade and a half ago. Now I am no push over when it comes to narrative role-playing. My main NPC, the Delaney house, was there. And it means business these days.
The Delaney Estate in North Shorelands, MI
Now this work is being developed as a pretty random scenario, where players draw for their roles. It can be quite "ghost heavy" because of the way I did the generation tables. Well then except that JerryTel, showed up fashionably late in the video chatroom. He was there with the same "Actor" as the original paranormal shenanigans. Pery as Techie/Camera and Jerry as the Face? A soft reboot, no less. In any case, the Quick, the living, outweighed the dead. Stuntman Curtis, was ready to be the crash test ghost and he was more than enough.

Throughout the session we worked on rule concepts for the upcoming Crawlspace: 21 and Over concerning ghost hunting, possession, and some axioms for the afterlife. At the same time, I creeped everybody out with a few of my imagery tricks. Neither the Quick nor the Dead rest easy in the Delaney Mansion. At 10:30pm , JerryTel was fading, he had been doing low light camera sitting in his darkened study to get the bump-hunter feel just right, so the intrepid haunted house hunters fled with the footage that they had. Curtis's ghost character was back among his newly acquainted maybe-not-that-dead peers, with a mostly unformed hungry yearning gnawing at his insides drawing him towards homicidal dementia.

Oh they'll be back. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Easter Treatise

Sorry guys but Ostarra is bunk
For all the cute and awesome tales around Eostre, Ostre, and whatnot, the pagan traditions around the Spring equinox never knew her. Now if you told me that Bede, the Angle monk from north England around 725 BC, came up with a Mary Magdalene figure for long gone pagans to provide some background material for Saint Jerome's consolidation of the vulgate Bible in the 5th Century (AD), I'd totally be down for. With the changing world since about the 300 AD, intellectual discourse was forming the Christ cycle, and even as late as the 8th century things were a bit amorphous around the edges.
What with Jesus's birthday being officially removed from the Vernal equinox to December 25th, something had to fill the rites of Spring at the time of Saint Jerome's adulthood. This had to signify the gift giving of Saturnalia instead of the lusty nature of Spring Break. Since the skull-bashings of Nicodemia the son of god was the same as the sky god and therefore not to be associated with fertility rights. So the Christ-figure's fall would be moved to be closer to people getting some time to tend to the hay fields, leading to some rolling of hay that was not sanctioned by the parents. But alas for falling, there is redemption in Church-approved marriage licenses. And then the reformed harlot of Mary of Magdella, more often than not accompanied by, if not just conflated with the Virgin Mary (God's Mom), got to play a role.

The Prussian advertising character Borussia has had more "worshipers" than this Eostre. But the goddess and her earlier Christian archetypes have some great fantasy yarns around them, even if they're all probably from the ancient times of the first I-Phone release. Ostarra saw a cold goose in snow, (because geese are hot weather animals?) and changed it to a hare. The hare was much warmer, (because goose down isn't warm?) so it thanked her by laying a colorful egg. Then there is the one where either Mary Magdalene or the Virgin Mary, teleports to Rome from Jerusalem to brag to the pagan emperor about the rebirth of Christ by giving him rotten eggs, which she purifies with her matronly, superpowers derived from not having sex. That last one is a bit too deep for the average pagan of Southern Baptist origins, so in these modernest of times, the story-masters just have the egg turn Easter-eggy with a cross on it without a woman being all witchy. Folklore spun by people that live in apartments and don't know that Pontus Pilot was never a Roman emperor.

While I am at it, there is just no historical evidence of Germanic people's being that big into rabbits as deities, nor rabbits delivering eggs. The animals were and remain so, great punchlines. What there is is surviving Christian works where rabbits and eggs being cited as proof of immaculate conception while flies were proof of less than Holy spontaneous generation. Boiled eggs also were the Happy Meal of the Dark Ages, dunk them in beet juice and have the kids feed their faces with these lunches during extremely long masses on Easter Holy Day. Heck if you get the kids trying to sprinkle water on a rabbit's tale, while looking for hidden eggs, mom and dad can get around to their Spring Break, that means MAKING BABIES, in between the 4th and the 119th worship session of the day. Wallah a pleasant outing out in the fields around the county's church. But remember the Virgin Mary, err Mary Magdelene, err some reformed slut that God approves of is watching so don't have too much fun.

So to my whimsical and more revisionist fantasy friends, Happy Easter. May the most Christian of icons of the Easter Bunny and colored eggs not disrupt any crypto-racist symbolism about pagan Germany.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Do We Need New D&D?

Bear with me here. As a guy that plays D&D like an Irish drunk being dragged into church on Easter, I am not the most impartial observer on this matter.  I mean I say this as a guy that spent thirty years of my life absolutely loving the first rip-off of the brand called Tunnels and Trolls, but really is there not enough pseudomedieval to medieval accurate source material among the official brand and the offshoot, schools of thought, err Open Game License advocates to last a bit? Between five different editions of the strict game and dozens, possibly hundreds, of homebrew variations, can adventure gamers not find dungeon delving material that particular way to role-play out  scenario/campaign with or without steampunk gnomes or Tolkien's elves with crowd-funding yet another FRPG system?
Hanging out and meeting the guys from G Plus back in the halcyon days of almost five years ago, it's become more than obvious that are about twenty FRPG systems per single player. Even for nostalgia's sake why doesn't one find a copy of a favorite rip-off of D&D and just run that. Say that you want to play Warhammer why not play it instead of needing to create FleiSwatter Zee Schwanger Vit Minutia ScheisseSpeil. At least since DCC, the field is so broad one does not have to develop a whole game system to work Mad-Libs instead of crunch details into their cavern crawling sessions, why create yet another take on White Wolf's storytelling system but this time for D&D by being about the narrative? You need rules for narrative role-playing? 

Yes I am being a hypocrite as I use my own systems for my horror and science fictions games. For the S-F that's because I like a certain style of game mechanic, the 2D6 and DARO system, but it's not open licensed so a different rules system is required. For the horror, it's because my system is godsbedamned revolutionary, or more accurately, the TACK system lends itself for both LARP and tabletop roleplaying which is helpful for the crowd that plays and runs Crawlspace. Even given my ham-handed double standards, am I wrong? Is there just not enough choice already for yet another fake European Dark Ages tabletop product for anybody?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Have You Ever Been In a Chatroom Orgy?

If you've never been enough of an IRC Maven to have participated in a Chatroom Orgy, I suspect you're really not about role-playing  beyond buying D&D and Chaosium books whenever their approved outlets tell you to. The first time I walked into a familiar "Books and Literature" chatroom and read the dialog be a debased but correctly-spelled cesspool of pornography, I quickly jumped out. The second time, I observed and had a couple good conversations in PM windows. I realized that anybody typing as much as these chatters were needed both hands and what I was reading took a whole lot of effort to produce. As I was a regular at the rooms I knew it wasn't the norm. As I was not in the inner circle, I didn't know exactly what the Mavens were doing. Later, I'd become a Maven in soccer games on-line and realize where they were coming from. It can get fucking boring being on-line despite the fun that you want to attach yourself to. It is then you have to decide, what are you really on-line for.

The Matt Mercer Effects Meets Adam Koebel
While I watched a GM make an embarrassing pass at a woman on his YouTube "show", I didn't see rape. I saw a bunch of people that were not friends doing a performance art piece that was supposed to depict role-playing.  Everyone was over 18 and any roleplayer could've interjected themselves OOC over the scene being played, but none of them did. Indeed only the two PLAYER-CHARACTERS in the scene worked through the incredibly creepy performance of pathetic seduction by Adam Koebel and whoever his player was presenting as a naive waif allowing the intercourse to occur. And the culmination was supposed to be "sex positive" but ended up being tone-death and not reciprocated by the room around the GM.
If you're not a point in sexual development where the above paragraph makes sense to you please stop reading.

Playing a PC Does Not Have to Be Demeaning or Dirty, Unless You Want It To
You as an adult role-player in the tabletop realm of things, are not supposed to do anything but what you want to do. GMs are people that stage manage events from a well-scripted format bending towards chaotic happenstance with hopefully some notes, or many situations in-between. They are not masters of anything accept their players wanting to explore roles outside of their places in life as they know it. 
Now if you're not running an RPG but making a piece of performance art replicating an RPG, you're rather pathetic already and should just stop. If you need a photogenic cast of  "Players" of people that aren't really tabletop role-players, you're putting your foot in the litter box of adventure gaming already. If you an ARSE ( Approved Rules Systems Expert), you really should be learning how to type a lot while not being an expert on anything. If you're a disinterested would-be actor, you might want to find a real job ALREADY.

Guys like Koebel have done nothing for the RPG hobby
Look if  on-line "role-playing" is your claim to fame, I suggest you get a job. I don't care if you're the lovechild of Gygax, Arneson, and Bat-Boy and have four credits in 13ed Call of Cthulhu, you are deficient.
Adam Koebel's problem is that he is not dealing with the break-up of a tabletop role-playing group. He is dealing with a bad decision in a made up, might-be market place. He has been providing nothing much for anybody and skimming off the top of what he has been doing. Of course the 9 year-olds of the Frog Club are singing about  his demise, they have been praying for it since finding out girls are allowed into "our" club.

So, as much as I gossip, I just don't really care.
By the way, Adam you ever do that to my daughter in one of her RPG sessions, I'll break your wrists. Creep.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Gonzo: It's Always Been There

The 2004 Cover
Since it's April 1st, let's talk about "gonzo" gaming. I was about to start this post with "I was gonzo before..." then I remembered Thundarr. So when I thought I was being clever by mixing up time travel from a favorite movie of mine, 2002's The Time Machine, into a Tunnels & Trolls scenario, I was actually nodding to the movie's producer's nod to Jack Kirby's artistic vision of a post-apocalyptic world without a nuclear doomsday. We were so over nuclear war back in the Aughts as well as the 80s. Truer fans of gonzo scoff at Kirby's hack of Gamma World forgetting that his comic book Kamandi was a hack of Planet of the Apes a whole year before the first release of that game. Then there all the Cold War gonzo flix, many actually partially funded by the Depart of Defense, from the 50s to the early seventies like Santa Claus Versus the Martians or Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster to name two. Let's just admit that modern gonzo as we know it on our view screens and soft-cover publications has been around since at least Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Indeed, looking at my own writing, while I have always been  "Non-Tolkien" I have not been that gonzo at all. As a kid that grew up in Big 70s America and Split-Down-the-Middle German, compartmentalization has influenced my own fantasy explorations. I have been "sticking to niche genres," to quote a friend from Detroit, exploration. I suppose that I have never been the fan of the goofy language of most "gonzo" RPG works today. Long before RPG Pundit exclaimed his dislike of made up languages with the apostrophe as a major feature, I was never impressed by many of them because, as Tarnowski points out, they are not really languages. Despite the hard work of Klingon LARPers, Tolkien scholars, and, sad to include, a couple of residents of Kekistan, most RPG language is either pun-based or stupidly not usable. Both kinds fall flat on being any fun to figure because the authors' refusal to do anything besides trying to sound kewl. Still, to think how innocent I am for thinking mixing genres back in Tweens was gonzo. While my scribblings are becoming more and more gonzo in my own mind, I doubt that I am keeping up.

In gaming terms, gonzo has moved beyond Rifts. Some would say these days that that game is just a genre of RPGs. It is the Mixed Genre so to speak and there isn't anything gonzo about it. Sure the GM can have Thor show up in a scenario with Mexican wrestlers fighting vampires in Robotech suits, but that's just RPG. And whoever says that is right.

Settlements By the Sea- end of season 1

The Far North
The combined forces of the godlings Hayn and Tuuki combined were not enough to force the alien forces of the giants and trolls out of this realm of existence. The two species though never working together seem to be cooperating with the other towards not being displaced by the encroaching new world creeping in around them. 
Wilder Haynfel- Explorers that have been here call it “a land mass of nothing but steep climbs and a sky full of bad weather.”
Yyena- Hyena-headed humanoids that are not at all related to the Dogger. They are meaner and less likely to to speak to anyone before trying to eat them.
Firbolg- These giant humanoids can grow up to as tall as a tree. They love to eat anything smaller than them. Despite their size they are known to be quite stealthy.

The Mountains of Ygirin- adsasd
The Trolls and Giants:
The Ettin- This two-headed humanoid is tall enough to have the clouds around its two heads. The names for the heads are Ygax and Arnsun.The arguments between the two heads causes thunderstorms and blizzards, sometimes Thunder Snow,  depending on the season.
Loomus the Cloud Giant- His palace is built with the treasure that he has horded.
Khenn Arth, the Troll God-The lord of the trolls, though they don't know it.

(Cliffhanger for season II)
The Wilder East
Tuukree- sdfsdf
Iersuf- sdfsdf

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Every Time at a Table: March 2020 Madness Begins

So, last night, 7.Mar.20, the Scrap Pile group, got together to play part two of the prequel Scrapiverse of the two part mini-series. Well, what they got was a flashback, within the second part of the prequel, that might or might not have anything to do with the story line established by the first part of the two-part prequel of the Scrapiverse. A part of me did this my players because of the hard time scheduling the second scenario in the series because all the players were busy booking their own play sessions on my earlier suggested, but not formalized, times. The real reason though is that we've all watched DC Universe's Doom Patrol since it came out last year and I was alternately frustrated and impressed with its flipping conventional superhero story-arc on its back. So I've decided that What Price Buffalo, Part II would take my emotions and turn them into inspiration.
Sabrina will never let you see a picture of her as a human, let alone as a kid.
Giving the late 90s dark heroes a chance to meet outside a used bookstore, and save a woman from having her purse stolen by a thug of Irish-American descent, oh I hate those gingers, I threw the players into a flashback. But only one of the players can have a flashback at one time, right? So the other two players had to develop two new PCs in ten minutes. And those Characters had to be 11 years-old as this was Wisp's (Peryton's) episode. Curtis and Wylie Coyote had to fight over who got the name Francis or Drake. To my delight, they argued over it.

Twelve years earlier in 1987, Wisp got to relive her just about adolescent days back at Madam Bobari's Boarding School for Children Suffering from Creepy Child Syndrome just east of New Orleans, Louisiana. Francis (Curtis) would be a latent shape-shifter, that always turned into a red panda when he had epileptic seizures. Coyote would have Drake be a mute child that liked to examine floor tiles, while his inner self raged to attain its telepathy and precognitive powers.
Sam, the magic janitor

Of course, our trio of misfits in a schools filled almost entirely of misfits, started a food fight in Home Economics class and ended up in detention, their task to clean up the class room by 6:30pm before Mister Feinman came back. Sam the magical janitor appeared and just didn't think it right that his favorite kids had to toil away their childhoods on such a nice day. He'd let them sneak out the back and he'd clean the classroom for them. While sneaking out, they'd see the purple '84 Ford Fairmont station wagon, with a gold star on the back passenger-side door, that could only mean something officious. Three adults would step out and make their way to Mdm. Bobari's office.
1987 Professor Hemm, pre-doctorate Gonzo, and Shazahim
The Meddlers of the 80-90s mystical Scrapiverse

The trio of pre-teen angst decided that heading to the arcade in town to play Atari's Joust was too far away to get back on time.  So they decided to walk through a hitherto unnoticed nature trail that adjoined their prison-like school with the nearby Valley Beach, also nicknamed "Voodoo Bay." At the beach, they'd meet the slightly older, probably around 14 or 15 year-old, Rachel. She'd offer them a joint, which only Francis would accept. She'd also introduce them to her Surf Shop-owning boyfriend Charlie Boy.

Now Charlie Boy being over 21 wouldn't allow the tweens showing up at his shop to smoke pot or grab a beer like his girlfriend Rachel did as she walked into the store. He would though insist that everyone learn how to surf, the tide was just right. Only Sabrina, Wisp, would be able to resist the man's charms and don a swimsuit and grab a kid-sized board. While surfing Francis would show amazing skill at surfing avoiding a shark that would appear out of nowhere. It was Drake though that would actually have to jump that same shark and score even more cool points. Even Sabrina, skulking on the beach, had to admit that they were having a good time. It was time to head back to the school as not to get caught being away and getting Sam, the magical janitor, in trouble. Charlie Boy would move in a little too close to Sabrina inviting the three back to their "New Moon Sock Hop" the next night.  The younger, burgeoning woman remembered that he had a girlfriend already, supposedly, and nonchalantly say, "Maybe."
Cthul... err Charlie Boy
Of course the kids would sneak out the next day, a moonless Friday the 13th. And the party would be awesome. Rachel was the hostess while Charlie Boy was dealing with some rough edge older types on the other side of the surfboard-laden alcove. Even I was enjoying the teen drama of beach party inhibitions, dancing, and almost some teen first kiss romance going on. As things started to move into the deep party after midnight, Charlie Boy would saddle up to the fire where all the kids where at, and Rachel would fold into his arms and then on his lap, while Drake would get his first taste of adult emotional control-- he wouldn't be jealous and pout. After a few laughs Rachel would produce a guitar and start singing. Her man would find his bongos and accompany her. Any tenseness would be released from everybody around the fire pit.

Francis would be able to shape-shift for the first time under his own control. Sabrina would be making illusions and even smiling once in a while. Drake would find his telepathy powers and he and Sabrina would remake the Aha music video Take On Me. Everyone was exploring their powers for the first as they danced, entranced by the beautiful yet degenerate music of Rachel Song of Ryleh and Charlie Cthulhu Boy. Sadly, Drake would notice what time it was, AFTER 3 AM, and drag the other two back to their boarding school. Francis was particularly recalcitrant. Sabrina would tease him about this by giving him a Charlie Brown head.
And it would be that big head that was the key to the next act.

As our protagonists would be sneaking back, the three odd balls from the purple Fairmont, a Professor Hemm and his two associates, would show back up at the Boarding School. They were metaphysicians looking for the transdimensional vandals that were seeking to weaken our dimension's boundaries. The three of them were employed as sub-contractors for Reagan Era meta-human truancy agency, so a few collections of errant school kids wouldn't hurt.  In short, they were looking for Cthulhu Boy and Song of Ryleh and bringing in troubled kids on the verge of delinquency only helped their paychecks. They saw the enormous head of Francis Beast Boy waddling through the foliage just beyond the football field of the school, and knew they were onto something. Gonzo, Professor Hemm's intern, would break down into five different human forms and start the operational skirmish.

What was supposed to happen:
The kids were supposed to flee back to the beach, leaving the door to the psychic pathway that they had found to Cthulhu Boy and Song of Ryleh open. The Meddlers, Professor Hemm, Gonzo, and Shazahim, would follow them through it. On the beach a metaphysical battle would ensue. Shazahim would transform into Cosmo (Shazam without a cape) and start fist fighting the juggernaut Cthulhu Boy. Professor Hemm and Song of Ryleh could work their more mental magicks against one another. Gonzo would provide the five body guards for the riff-raff around the seductive duo of the villains of the episode.
If our protagonists started trying to help Cthulhu Boy and Song of Ryleh, Sam the magical janitor would appear. He'd explain to them that he was Samedi Sam, a one time hoodlum now destined to guard of the gates of life while dwelling in the paths of death. He had to use the PCs as bait for the dimensional criminals of Cthulhu Boy and Song, as Song of Ryleh prefers to be called. The Baron of Saturdays would profusely apologize, and try to get the kids to follow him back to the boarding school. Upon any resistance two white vans would pull up and a gaggle of clowns would apprehend the PCs to get them out of harm's way.
Samedi Sam is a complicated man

As it happened:
Our PCs recognizing authority figures on the school grounds, went not only into stealth mode, but stealth and get back to bed before getting caught mode. Only Francis, who would've thought that would happen to him, would get caught. And Professor Hemm, Gonzo, and Shazahim would convince the lad into showing them where the path was. That is instead of mind-raping him, which I as the GM was totally going to do to develop "character". Meanwhile Drake would be trying to mentally telegraph warnings to to Rachel and Charlie Boy, using his still very new powers.

Drake would fall into sleep. He'd dream out a scene where Shazahim and Cthulhu Boy duked things out, Gonzo'z clones fought any nearby followers, while Song and Professor Hemm slung spells at each other. In the end, the authorities won, and Cthulhu Dawn never happens. He'd then be awakened to be summoned to Prinicpal's office for sneaking out the night before.  He'd be there with Sabrina and Francis.

Francis, becoming quite the cable ruffian, would concoct a true 90s yarn about the the three of them being convinced to leave their beds by Professor Hemm.  We'd then go into abbreviate role-playing, called roll playing, that go into the next few months of media exposure and how things panned out. Calling on his Reagan Administration and IPAC contacts Shazahim, would get all charges dropped. Gonzo and Drake would have a special psychic link from then on though. It would not be based on friendship either...

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Settlements By the Sea V

Episode Five: Far from the fair trade
The borders of the world

The North and West

From the Realms of Birch to the Misty Mountains, these lands have been the wall between worlds as long as time has been counted. Hardy doggers and kobalds along with humans that could be related to the peoples of the Far Lands make up most of the populations scattered throughout these parts. The native humans often call themselves “Knabber” (pronounced kuh-nahb-ber). Pockets of trolls and trollkin still scourge the world around themselves.

Starting at the Isthmus
The lands of the Isthmus, namely two walled cities known as Knab (pronounced “kuh-nahb”)and Ktuuk (pronounced “kay-tuck”), have been keeping the lands to the south of their kith sheltered from the cold and alien trolls and giants long before the Wizard-Kings started trying to colonize there. Upon seeing the colonizers’ ships along their shores, they weren’t too stubborn about swearing fealty to their new overlords. Once the winter set in, the locals knew that the newcomers would not be sticking around for long.

Knab- While there are more colonizer humans here than any place else in the north, there aren’t that many of them. They have begun to fortify their claims as relationships with the locals tend to go badly more often than they’d like to admit. The southerners bide their time until ships from Settle, usually Lord Takei’s trading company come bringing goods and more immigrants.
The doggers and Knabber humans like the more rustic style of migratory hunting and fishing. They still do admire the masses of goods that the southerners keep around though. 
Ktukk- Mostly a dozen or so kobald warrens that form a city of sorts spread out over two valleys on the shores of the Cold and Clear, a fresh sea formed by the slowly receding snefhelm glaciers. It also host a number of more settled Knabber humans. 

Legends of the Isthmus:

Nicholas the Cager- The leader of southerners in Knab. Brother of Prince Starbuck, he is also the dear friend of the Forge Lord. He accepted his appointment to the “Norder Provinces” by Queen Briana to avoid the arguments between the two. While his mission is to help show the unenlightened northerners the benefits of just and diverse civilization. Luckily, he’s too wrapped up in his own drama to notice that they aren’t all that interested. 
Yoiolkaala- A druid of some means, even the doggers give her respect though she is a human. Her clan are the more urbane of the Knabbers traveling between Knab and Ktuuk. She is said to have some troll in her blood line and can often speak with the Kind because she smells right.

Din-Maga-Min- The recognized leader of the kobald warrens of Ktuuk. He is a wizard of some age, just how old no one actually knows. He is known to speak with the Bear Peoples as an equal. Who that group is also something of a mystery. Somehow he and Yoiolkaala are said to be related. 
Garm- The toughest of the dogger chieftains making the Isthmus their home. He has discouraged his pack from eating Speaking Peoples because it just makes for blood feuds. His warriors are encouraged to take their fiery passions and work against the trolls and trollkin still living in the territories.

Trollkin of the Isthmus:

From human-like to monstrous and alien, the trolls just don’t see what is wrong with themselves. Not above hunting Speaking Peoples and practicing blood magics, these creatures are relics of other worlds and other times.
Lady Yagga- This witch that can master the weather and call upon terrible forces can appear as a human woman or a giant yellow-skinned hag. Whatever form she takes, more than likely she’ll have an awesome hat. 
Iggy Ice- A fourteen foot-tall, green-skinned humanoid that is always looking for a fight. He has bested every troll-hunter that he has ever encountered. 

Zig-Zag- Alternating between sexes, this creature can be very human-like as well as alien. Sometimes he assumes the form known as the Goblin King, and is actually worshiped by more feral kobalds and doggers.

Souxsie Banshee- Also known as the Raven Queen. She appears as a waifish human female, until she assumes the form of a giant crow.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Settlements by the Sea IV

Episode Four: No Starbucks Needed
Back in the southern lands

The Free City of Gonzales
Founded by Baron Gonzo just about twenty years ago, this is where a majority of the “Kek” colony sympathizers make their home. It’s a city where about ten percent of the population has running water and can own property based off of convoluted “Purity Laws” that might be racial or not. The rest tend to live as landed peasants, or serfs until they travel enough to know this is not how a world functions at all. Its leader is Baron Gonzo a rightwing transplant from our own Earth, circa 1934.

The Kek Rangers
When the “stepchildren”, began taking over the City-State of Settle and the kingdoms around it, more than a few of the Wizard-Kings’ more privileged castes began moving into the wilder lands around them. They didn’t like minorities and non-humans running things. They certainly weren’t going to wait around for women to boss them around. They also thought that the minions of Longbeard, the Bearded, were rather shallow and not well read as well. Luckily for them, one of Spock the Time-Traveler’s experiments brought about a dozen attendees of a Pan-European Fascist Meeting in Ludberg, Poland in 1934 our world into the Dogger Flows. These immigrants would become the founding fathers, with more than a few strong mothers and sisters, and even a girlfriend or two, of the proclaimed nation of Kekistan. Outside of a few large villages, isolated farms, and more than a few basements; the nation remains a pipe dream. But its rangers, despite their love of polished boots and ironed uniforms, are capable, if unmotivated, fighters.
While they tend to agree with the Bearded, they find them somewhat repulsive and primitive-minded. The Bearded find the Rangers a bit overly concerned with looking pretty and condescending. The leaders of Settle do not hide their disdain of the Kek, but often find them useful for finding out what their enemies could be thinking. 
Baron Gonzo- Born in York, England around 1911, his father was a Spanish monarchist. He never quite fit in, so the Black Shirt movement appealed to him. Upon showing up in the Dogger Flow some thirty years ago, he’s made the new world around him his home with a passion. He is a capable warrior but much better as a wizard. He is still self-trained and his Kek troops tend to be rather unreliable in tight situations.
He also is able to get coffee beans from Earth as he has hacked a certain rift into this world created by Time-Traveling Spock a decade ago. He does not care if his coffee is fair trade or not. This not only makes him the Founder, it also makes him the richest of the Gonzo.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Settlements By the Sea III

Episode Three: Coffee still waffs in the morning dew
To the North and the East

The Dogger Lands and Knalba
When the gods Hayn and Tuuko fought back the invading ice giants and trolls from Sniffle Helm, their followers the species of the Doggers and the Kobalds lived in balance and harmony with the world around them. The kobalds being short human-like lizard folk with red and blond hair would become accomplished fishing folk and whale hunters. Meanwhile the canine-faced humanoids, called the “doggers,” would become the dominant Kind of all regions known. Two massive confluences of rivers from all directions that would form the Valley of Miggar and farther downstream the delta lands of the Dogger Flows.
They never liked the Wizard-Kings that colonized the rich and fertile Flows. They are not sure if they care for the decolonized “new peoples” of the City-State of Settle and its territories. Maybe after a few hundred years, a single kobald lifespan, they’ll come around to the Once and Future Queen’s worldview of enlightenment through diversity. As of right now, everybody besides them are just a bunch of interlopers intruding on their territory and upsetting their way of life.

The Lizard Wizard- These days, he is sleeping more often than he is awake. Still using his mind trained for world domination, his dreams will walk among the waking world through his avatars. His avatars have an assortment of spells and psionic capabilities (about 2d3) but only in his original form can he access all of his amazing psychic powers. That form is a human-sized two hundred million year-old bipedal lizard that likes to wear orange.
The Valley of Miggar
Within the
area around the confluences of three inland rivers (what would be later called the Maas, Thames, and Rhine rivers) it has been Spoken between the Kinds that the Doggers would not hunt the Kobalds. Over the centuries this rule has extended to other Speaking peoples. Now this is no hard and fast law, but it has made these meeting grounds one of the more approachable areas for adventurers in the Settlements. They can also find a decent cup of coffee from fair trade providers at any trading post worth the time to stop by. 
The Natives:
Kobalds- Not very reptilian looking at all, these diminutive human-like beings do have cat-eyes and will form feathers if they don’t shave or pluck themselves regularly. Their magicians are called Leprechauns and their leader of legend is The Lizard Wizard. Any Kobald may be fated to become an avatar of their sleeping king of yore.

Doggers- Much shorter-lived than their neighbors, the Kobalds, the dog-headed humanoids are the master hunters of all races ever, except maybe the trolls of yore. When they are having problems with hunting they can plant their own farms and herd their own reindeer, but really don’t enjoy those activities. They are familiar with the kobald and find them tasty, but just not worth hunting usually. They trust the “dark forces” of trolls and ice giants more so than they trust the Wizard-Kings and their residual human races scattering over their homelands.