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.