Saturday, December 8, 2018

Happy Thanksgivristmasewyear!

Finally saw Shin Godzilla, Twin Peaks (The Return), and Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3.

I knew Godzilla would focus on government policy but I wasn't prepared for so much high-octane bureaucracy. Very tropey, reasonably fun, and the tension between personal initiative and collectivist values has interesting nuances, buuut I'm probably never going to rewatch this.

Twin Peaks was great fun. My only disappointment is that it ignores all the teases from How I Met Your Mother. I didn't feel like I missed much by being unfamiliar with the secondary movies and books, and I think I have fair idea of where Coop ended up.

The third season of Ash vs Evil Dead was as pleasant and comfy as the first two but I can kind of see why viewership fell. I don't know if Kelly actually gets less screentime than she did in prior seasons, but it feels like she gets sidelined, and Pablo's Brujo sequence feels too empty to be as long as it is but also not empty enough to be shorter. Happily, the finale is the strongest they've had since the movies.


Ha! Such a long, lovely walk, all for that last joke.

Just finished listening to the Potter & Daughter podcast, in which a father and small daughter talk through what the Harry Potter characters are thinking, chapter by chapter. I didn't really want or need Harry Potter cliff notes, but watching someone teach a child how to think was kind of interesting, and hearing a seven or eight year old speak with authoritative knowledge was kind of adorable.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

So You Want to Be King of Some God-Forsaken Space Rock (Bandit Kings part 4)

A simple kingdom generator that I'd like to eventually flesh out into generating full sci-fi and fantasy campaigns. Posting this draft version early because... well, I'd rather clean it up some (individual reroll buttons, formatting, grammar, better code, proper weight, proper attribution) first, but it's usable as-is. 

I fully expected Blogspot to make it extra rough to add javascript to a post, but kudos to them for keeping it surprisingly painless. (If your needs are simple, this guy makes it even easier - just put a list into his widget and it spits the code out!)

Random Kingdom below the cut.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Fire Temple

The primary DM in our 2014(?) Pathfinder campaign lifted a whole temple from, I think, one of the Zelda games. Parts of it translated more easily than others.
Nintendo DM: "This next room is packed with tall stacks of big clay pots."
The Party: "Do we detect magic, undead, etc inside the pots?"
Nintendo DM: "..."
Nintendo DM: "Don't you want to break one? It might have rubies!"
The Party: "We squeeze by one at a time, not touching the pots at all."
The Wizard: "Then once we're all through, I turn around and fireball the room to break as many pots as I can."
The Party: "SO MANY GHOSTS NOW why did you do that aglghghl"
Everything I can remember of the temple puzzles below the cut, plus spitballing variations.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Why Are Unicorns Not Dragons?

Do the bones of a Golden Dragon gleam?
Most of an Eastern dragon's parts - the head of an ox or camel, ears of a cow or dog, antlers of a stag, neck of a snake, and legs of a horse - add up to a giraffe. The Qilin (closest analog to a unicorn) is also a giraffe. In the West, both were about the size of a horse. Both were indomitable. Yet the one associated with monsoons and wildfires grew into a blend of crocodile, dinosaur and zeppelin while the one carrying abstract notions of incorruptibility and divine vigor got stuck as a kind of prissy antelope.

As an antagonist, this self-righteous ungulate can be a pawn in someone else's scheme, be jealous, try to steal or ruin a person or place or object, try to take over someone else's lair, have a vendetta... all the same passions as a small dragon.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Hunger in the year 3058: Feeding Sarna from Kaifeng

Someone challenged me to justify low JumpShip counts in BattleTech. 
I believe I've done so. 
(These other threads are also relevant.)
Warning! This is like my other "bean counting" posts except EVEN MORESO.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Varanus' Gun, the Riddick and the Unicorn, and Gobbo Feet

[Kind of a grab-bag this week. Hopefully next week will be back to more organized things.]

Varanus' Gun

When you made a character in my old high school play group, instead of purchasing starting gear, you got a witness to roll for each item you might have. Better rolls meant better items, and the luckiest I know was a kobold named Varanus who started with a one-in-two-million rifle.

It had every physical and magical enhancement listed in our price guide, plus two more:
  1. If it was within 10 yards, the owner could summon it irresistibly to his hands (something akin to dimension door). Fonzying at an opponent's head was a great way to switch from parley to combat. 
  2. A magic string was tied to its grip, with a matching string tied to Varanus' gold pouch; if someone tried to take whatever the second string was tied to, they would be attacked by whatever weapon the first string was tied to.
There may have been other features, but those are the two I remember.


The Poachers

Pretty standard heist quest, written quickly. The party wanted to acquire a certain rare animal from a group of professional monster hunters and couldn't buy it. (This is where the kid with the holy sword was hanging out.) Their collection included:
  • Roc Chicks: horse-sized fledglings used as mounts by the poachers. I described them as Chokobos and played them like velociraptors.
  • A Beholder: used for wrangling the other captives, and which might've had a lobotomy scar? It was in a complex harness with reins which allowed one of the poachers to direct its movements and eyes. The players were mostly unfamiliar with D&D so this was weird and exotic. 
  • A "Unicorn": the poachers said this was a unicorn, but when I described it to the players, I used the description of a rhinoceros. A PC did end up buying it, and commissioned a war chariot (complete with swords sticking out from the wheel axles) for it to pull.
  • The Riddick: among the cages containing giant rats and other dangerous beasts was one containing a muscular human in dark goggles. "Me? I'm just passing through." (I'd shotgunned Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick the night before, so I could do passable dialogue.) The players sprung him but he wasn't as much of a team player as they'd hoped. 
  • A Few Gremlins: trained for specific tasks, like fishing a potion out of your pack and feeding it to you during combat. Might also have played a collapsible snare drum and high hat. 
Robert "they should all be destroyed" Muldoon oversaw security from an open-air second story with a commanding view of the menagerie. I don't think the troop was commanded by John Hammond, but I do have a vague memory of negotiations proceeding with lemonade and southern hospitality.


Gobbo Feet

Originally in my high school group, players would only play goblin characters as a joke. Other monstrous races - ogres, trolls and lizardmen - were suboptimal but they had legitimate strengths and could generally intimidate peasants into treating them the same as other adventurers. Eventually, a later iteration of the group added special abilities to all the playable races. Goblins became a more normal choice and it became increasingly weird to me that they were getting hassled less than our ogres and trolls.

Around then I read chapter 211 of Berserk, which has a kelpie drenching a town in rain.

So I decided to make a town which hates goblins, put it in the party's path, and surround it in weeks of ceaseless rain. Now, one of the traits our goblins got was they could ignite small fires by dancing; so when the party met some of the townsfolk some hours outside of town, the townsfolk didn't pull out flint and tinder to light a fire; they pulled out a pair of severed baby goblin feet, hanging on strings like baby booties, and jerked them around to make them "dance."

I didn't want to actually spend the whole quest on the one goblin PC, though. So when these two townsfolk saw the goblin PC, they remembered the "gobbo horse" in the middle of town, and they jumped to the conclusion that if a goblin bites you, you become one.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Cricket Whistle

Spent too long examining the moral dimensions of a particular Star Trek character, so, no BattleTech this week. Instead, here's two ways to sound like a cricket:
  1. You know that thing in the back of your throat, that you use to gargle, and to make the Predator clicking noise? You know how most people whistle by exhaling through pursed lips? Trill that thing while whistling. (This doesn't work very well if your throat is dry.)
  2. If you can whistle by inhaling through pursed lips, do so with a little spit on your tongue. (My preferred method.)
It's a fun gag. Games occasionally have quiet pauses (a joke falls flat, or the group is hesitating indecisively) where a chirp can get a laugh.