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.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Settlements By the Sea II

Episode Two: More than coffee brewing in the woods

In the South
It is said that this is where the Wizard-King colonizers of Settle are from. But the fact is that even these human-dominated parts, most everybody doesn’t look like them. This causes more than a bit of skepticism. The rolling hills and forests of the region have been lightly inhabited by speaking-Kinds for at least two millennia.

The Towers of the Bearded
In the South and Forestia the last of the would-be Wizard-Kings that colonized the lands of the Dogger Flows, the ancient magician known as Longbeard, the Great and White, (sometimes called the Big White) saw the threats to his civilization and his belief system centuries ago. It started with the raiders from the Far Lands and then all the kings and princes giving up their roles as Lords and protectors of their households. Having his minions craft a series of fortresses throughout the land to maintain some sort of hold on his one time glorious world.
As more and more humans became too weak to bare their responsibility of leadership and fall into the trap of accepting a diverse world order around them. Longbeard would have to forge minion creations to man these last areas of true manliness and proper thought. He would produce the Bearded races to try to shore up his holdings. Far from the lords of all they see, these creatures blight their territories and only envy the evolving world around them.

The Wizard Longbeard- 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, that of a six hundred year-old human, can he access all of his thaumaturgy and psychic powers.
The Bearded:
Bloodbeards- Even though this mutated species of dwarves escaped from their hellish fate in the dimension of Qalidar, they would not be able to overcome their derangement and degeneration. This would make them easy pickings for the Big White. They would become the prime breeding stock of the wizard’s brood armies. Still they are the elite of the Bearded. Capable warriors they can also learn spells. More than a couple of them are psychic and can perform psionic abilities. 
Beardos- These dwarve-like creatures have just enough Bloodbeard juice in their veins for the dementia required to serve Longbeard with their powerful physiques. They like obeying very simple orders by those inclined to give them even more than they like fighting. They still love fighting so much that whey turn on each other when no one clean shaven is around.

Weirdbeards- Very human-like in stature and even mentality but both sexes have beards. Many become wielders of magic or artisans not only warriors. Beardos are instinctively differential to this Kind. But the would-be Wizard-King can possess any one of them at any given time, making the individual his avatar usually for the rest of their lives.

Monday, March 2, 2020

A World a Week: Settlements by the Sea

Settlements By the Sea is a gonzo RPG soap opera setting that we're all too familiar with. I've set it right around the end of an ice age starting the Mesolithic era.
Along the confluence of multiple rivers known as the Dogger Flow, this massive city-state of Settle is the home to people that are overcoming their past of being colonizers and forced into roles imposed upon them by others towards becoming real human beings. There are also those that do not think that this as the case and reject any other viewpoint than their own.

Episode One: The Smell of Coffee in the Mist
The biggest port in the Northwestern Realms. Its maritime traditions has provided it with luxuries like coffee, chocolate, tea and lavender from the Big Continent, that it exports all over the world. It started out as a colony of the Wizard-Kings whom oppressed and then often replaced the earlier inhabitants, including the Doggers and settlers from the Big Continent. Upon contact with the Far Lands, the Ways of Change began to shake the hold of the Wizard-Kings and their enslaving colonizers over the already diverse beings, human and otherwise, there.
It was when Ulther Stepdad rose against the last Wizard-King Mel Son of Gib, the Overlord, when justice and fairness for all became the way of life for the city. Since then, this spot has been known as a great place to get a decent cup of coffee.

Legends of the City-State

The Once and Future Queen-. She was at one time Prince Arthur and then transitioned into her true self, Queen Brianna. She is studying to learn how to time travel to become the Lady in the Lake to deliver her sword, Excalibur, to her beloved stepfather Ulther and then later herself when the Kingdom needs it the most. 
Baron Takei- A warlord king in the sea-faring Far Lands, he and most of his co-ed warriors were actually born in the Dogger Flow island of Ichiyama Volcano. Seen more often in his samurai armor and traditional sword, he would rather be shirtless and wielding a rapier but the duties of his position dictate otherwise.
Though viewed as a foreigner by the average, a little uninformed Settle resident, he is the most-likely successor to Queen Brianna if she should be removed as the Crown of the City. 

Prince Starbuck- Born Amanda Culthwaite-Rothstein, this champion of justice would cut their hair and proclaim themselves to be a man. Their preferred name now is Dirk Starbuck. Wielding the magical sword, Never-Grin, and wearing green and gray armor she is, err they are known as a troll hunter of some skill.
Her, err their followers, the volunteering or underpaid Outrage Brigade, sleep with one ear open in case her, err their lieutenants start ringing alarm bells requiring them to assemble and attack identified targets.

Time-Traveling Spock- A doctor of child psychology in another life, his genes were cloned into a species known as the Space Elves. This wizard is a student of the weaves of time and the master of the mysterious ways of mulligan-making.
He is no Merlin-like sage. If his role is to give advice to the Once and Future Queen, he doesn’t know it. He spends as much time with Baron Gonzo as often as he visits with Queen Brianna. His continued time-travel exploits has side-effects that has and will continue to effect game play in this setting.

The Forge Lord- His full name is Chad Son of Mel the Son of Gib. He remained neutral in the wars between Ulther and the Stepchildren against his father. He and his followers are often viewed with suspicion by the average, if a bit uniformed, Settle resident. While he and his followers are often the targets of Prince Starbuck and her, er their Outrage Brigade, Baron Takei and Queen Brianna actually like having the faction close.
Does this acceptance arise from wanting to keep their enemies close or does it come from respect earned from their actions and continued performance of service towards the City-State? While all the parchments in the coffee shops have their opinion, it is for the more informed citizen to decide.

Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

Part VI