Wednesday, 19 November 2014

You gotta laugh

Despite the dark side of the comic book character genre there is also its rather more satirical side; a sort of caricature of a caricature Whilst I have played quite a few heroes system as such - GURPS supers come to mind as my preferred , hero/villain character generation just cries out for parody; it just seems to come naturally out of the advantage/ disadvantage or power/ vulnerability points systems. My last favourite character in this regard was a superfast explosive expert by the name of Mr Mollotov, who could flash into a scene, assemble complex explosives at superfast speeds and dash out again. Wonderful superskills in principal but balanced by severe DTs, chain smoking, caffeine addiction and insomnia -basically a nervous wreck. I'm sure everyone has their favourite.

 But for those who don't know there are onliners who have taken up this particular cause and created some wonderful comic strips in the meta. Thanks to Mike and Jules for chipping in some of these links.
 
The first I came across was Goblins: The trial and tribulations of level 1 miscreants and what they have to put up with on a day to day basis. Fumbles is an excellent name for a character by the way.
 
Webcomics: DM of the Rings. This one is like the Red vs Blue video satire but set in Middle Earth, where everyone is just trying to work out what is going on....
 
 
Darths and Droids. My favourite I think - such an easy read with the scene selection its an absolute pleasure to flick through.
 
 
Oh, and I note that The Knights of Basassdom is now finally out on demand. Horribly flawed for the casual film buff but enough in it to make it a worthy giggle for the gamer :-) 4 out of 5 stars.
 
 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Bite to the death.


So, I have a dental appointment at the beginning of Dec and hopefully wont be toothless for Christmas otherwise I'll be blending my turkey. What the fuck am I talking about ? God knows but it got me thinking about various biting issues I have come across. Now the bite is one extra attack in most cases so perhaps not as concerning in and of itself (Dragons aside) but, like a most orthodontic issues, there are consequences in the long run for not taking teeth seriously enough.
 
As a GM I have sneaked in the odd rabid dog into an adventure, which is particularly amusing when high level characters are concerned as they often try and brush off the details. I reminisce one particular Rolemaster party of 30+ level players that slayed their way through a cave complex to an insane Demon. Though they barely paused to wipe the orc blood off their clothes, one of them did pick up a scratch from some nasty guard dogs. Instant lycanthropy of course. Whilst the player hardly remembered the incident he was concerned to be having blackouts every month and finding his home both trashed and smeared with body parts. Oh how we laughed..
  
 
So, there have been plenty of dramas of late concerning the paradigm between the Werewolf and our other fiendishly fanged friend the Vampyre. I'm thinking of the Underworlde series of films but also Being Human come to mind as well as others I am sure you can think of. What happens exactly if and when one bites the other has been an interesting subject, however I do feel that humans are under represented here...
 
 
Now follow my logic - should a human be attacked by a werewolf of course its often a foregone plot device but I'm not so sure about this. A defenceless human being attacked by a werewolf would be quickly mashed one would think but what if the human got in the first bite ? Perhaps even with the help of a surprise advantage ? Why would this matter ? Well, for all of you burgeoning dentists and Van Helsings out there you will of course know that our fillings are more often or not made from amalgam, which  consists of: mercury (50%), silver (~22-32% ),  tin (~14%), copper(~8%), and other trace metals. Well its the 22.32% that matters they say and a possible fatal wound for the werewolf. Though the relationship between Silver and Vampyres is a little less clear I would say, I think its just a matter of getting the fillings blessed first and pretty much the same strategy can be adopted, though sneezing power is always handy in such a dilemma.
 
So to the moral of the story, if you come across any Goth like pale faced people eyeing you up in the evening or perhaps a particularly hairy person sniffing you from a distance in the local country pub after hours, don't hesitate, get your bite in first!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Losing the plot


Occasionally I can give a GM a hard time though I learnt my lesson very early on in my roleplaying career... Twas the night before Cyberpunk when for too many weeks I felt we had the local press constantly turning up immediately after things went badly wrong for our Police Department - every time a bystander got shot they were there - every time the criminal got away, they magically turned up in their helicopter, every borked drug bust they were waiting around the corner yada yada. We were getting such a hard time as players... I got so pissed off that the GM was just making things coincidentally bad for us all the time that I had a massive go at him. Of course the real reason was that someone else in the party was a bad cop taking back handed bribes from the local media and radioed in each time we fucked up. No news like bad news. This little anecdote is a happy ending in itself really as I learnt a lesson early on both as a teenager who should have more respect and in gaming terms of course, never argue with the GM.

There is a wonderful set of videos by DawforgedCast on how to conduct yourself properly as a player as well as sterling advice on when it is suitable to ask to go to the toilet. A sort of Proper Chaps Almenac to RolePlaying.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5KwWJyibzM

There is even a Facebook page for Bad Roleplayers:
Though I cant quite work out what its about exactly.
 
These days, although always feeling a little hard done by, I do whinge more than I should but I know my flaws; and having lost so many characters now to various ridiculous situations I have thicker skin . If this a normal reaction then fair enough but what about less stable or well adjusted people ? when do our idiosyncrasies start to manifest at the low end of the psychotic scale ?

Would you bury bad dice for example ? Anyone broken a pencil... without realising it ??
 
 
Or do we know anyone who has gone the full Tom Hanks?

So what do you look out for if you are about to lose the plot completely? Well I don't know...but here are fourteen pictures of Rob as I caught him incessantly rolling his little D20..













 
 
 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Extremeism

 
Pope Benedict XVI With a current opportunity to play a lawful good religious character, it has got me thinking about how thin the line is between the alignments. Albeit umbrella terminology perhaps 'Religious' and 'Good' are oxymorons or highlight the subjective nature of what it is to be good. Given the human condition, the matter is a little easier as, although you have to accept axioms at some point, systems based on human happiness can be derived from first principals of experience - such as the Buddhist approach from a desire to achieve enlightenment through happiness or indeed one can construct ethics based on human wellbeing  [see Sam Harris  ]. There are also genetics to consider - not to be confused with a eugenics of course - but there will be behavioural trends in the human genome and therefore a possibly empirical view as to the constitution of what is in society's best interests.
 
The slippery slope starts with lawful systems in which people suffer as a direct consequence whilst apologists will nevertheless act for what they perceive as the greater good. In other words how do you classify extremist behaviour ? As a Paladin the lawful bit comes easily enough but would I shield bash a nice old lady who was standing in the way? Well, possibly. Goodness and righteousness have their opposites but the also have their extrapolations; but is this a new dimension to the alignment rubric?
 
Would a Lawful Good character challenge a Lawful Good Extremist ?
I would suppose you couldn't have a Neutral Extremist ? Or is that a morbidly lazy individual?
Chaotic Extremism sounds fun to play - is that a religious Jester ?
Is Lawful Evil Extremism the same as Lawful Good Extremism ?
 
Judge dreddThere is an additional issue that truly confuses the matter for role players and that is race of course. Deriving human happiness in very general terms is no that difficult but what about orcs, goblins, ghosts and demons. This is where you have to fall back on a rubric or roleplaying a case in point I think.
 
 
Looking to the future we will of course be seeking to adjust our own genetic material. Other than the professional ethics of how to do this there is also the possibility of creating ethical creatures that are in fact not ultimately human. How are they to be judged ?
 
If you are curious and prepared to answer 48 questions then here is an alignment test.
Extremism is not on there.
 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Paladins dont pick locks.

kick in the door by Pachycrocuta
Often there is a choice to be made whenever egress is required to somewhere you shouldn't be; is it better to tread softly or charge in? The choice is often life or afterlife related, never quite sure about that one, but it comes up quite a lot. An obvious answer is that it is situation dependent but a closed door is a closed door. The nice thing about the direct approach is that it keeps a game rolling but of course may also entail heads rolling at the same time. It's potentially a dangerously lazy habit also as so far in our 13Age game we have been merrily kicking our way up the experience ladder but we are also noticeably shaving ourselves closer and closer to 0 hit points on each occasion. Perhaps the GM is trying to tell us something.
 
For the next DnD supplement on door kicking here are a few extracts from other vexed adventurers who share our dilemma...


COMBAT TECHNIQUES IN BUILT-UP AREAS:
zcustomxg4.jpg(7) When a door is the only means of entering a room, soldiers must beware of fire from enemy soldiers within the room and beware of booby traps. Doors can be opened by using the hand, by kicking, by firing, or by using pioneer tools such as an axe. When opening a door, soldiers must not expose themselves to firers through the door. A two-man team should be used when doors are opened by hand. Each soldier should stay close to one side of the doorway so as not to expose himself in the open doorframe. However, it is better to open the door by kicking or firing. When kicking, one man stands to the side while the other kicks

Correct and safe use of a light sabre

File:Jedi cutting door.png

Resetting forgotten passwords...


Keeping Aliens out of your front room

 
Dodgy garage doors
 
 enter image description here

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Splitting the party.


 
 
Ah, the old ones are the best. Not a Cthulhu reference but last week in the 13th Age we tried to take the p*** a bit and deliberately split the party in the search for various plot leads just to see what would happen. Quite rightly GMJack suitably chastised us and when I say chastised I mean flayed us within a inch of our lives. Poor little Tiefling, She had, for reasons that escape me (though reason seems like the only party member that is capable of escaping anything at the moment),  wandered down an alley and got herself mugged by 17 people. Now GMJack is making a point here I feel as its not often than 17 muggers crawl out of the brickwork - I mean there has to be an economic issue with regard to cost effectiveness of splitting loot 17 ways let alone the general HR paperwork and CPD. To be fair it would appear that the majority of them were on an apprentice or job sharing scheme as they only had 5 hit points each but even still we barely got there in enough time to save our little schizophrenic diabolist.
For anyone who has not come across it here is the jingle:
 
Meanwhile GMWarren's report from D&D5e reads as follows:
 

"After the brief and fatal (for the scout / investigator) diversion in some Goblin caves the party left with a rescued captive leaving the goblin tribe severly reduced in numbers but happily with a new leader (though Godlin politics being what it is might not be for long). The party head to their destination of Phandalin, a frontiers town built on the ruins of a previous settlement built hundreds of years before (mainly for humans, dwarves and halflings).
 
That evening after meeting up with their contacts and gaining a bit of well earned gold the party explored the town meeting the people. It would seem most from to the West side of town are friendly sort whilst those on the east side of town near the haunted manor are brigands, ruffians and downright hooligans. It would seem the town has a gang problem.
 
There were various conversations with townsfolk - the local priestess, the townsmaster plus a few farmers but the main focus was the gand on the east side of town. The druid wanted to test out her new ability of changing into another form and promptly went for a mastiff where she tried to get into the inn at the east side of town (a local gang haunt) . In managing to run into the Inn she tried to ingratiate herself with the members. She did manage but suddenly realised that the gang members needed another animal for their 'pit fights'.
 
Pick up and dumped in front of three cages holding rats. Luckily the rats were normal rats and the druid mastiff made quick work of them. After that she had to swiftly leave as her transformative powers were running out.
 
So we left it with the druid, now disguised as a cat, having left the inn was making her way towards the haunted manor alone whilst the rest of the group were contemplating a search for a druid, tracking down a tribe (well 15) of orcs with a potential side trip of a banshee visit or dealing with this gang that may be behind he disappearance of a man and his family "
 
PS Welcome to Paul who joined us last week, hope to see you again.
PPS and massive street cred to Dave for bringing a Birthday cake for GMJack last week. Cake should be made compulsory when roleplaying.




Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Hostage situations.



Having watched more than my fair share of movie hostage situations I would consider myself well versed in assessing incidents from an armchair/take away perspective. When a hostage is being grappled and has a gun pointed held at their temple then clearly a dramatic headshot by Bruce Willis is prescribed. Where negotiations are concerned, then you simply call in Kevin Spacey and have him talk them down. Where you can't communicate with captors then you clearly need an SAS response. For pirate boarding, Tom Hanks should be immediately promoted to Captain and passive, non cooperative resistance tactics should be adopted. When your favorite nuclear battleship is captured then an immediate Steven Segal intervention is required.
 
 
For the ardent roleplayer it goes on... Alien abductions often need a long term concerted effort from a fringe anti-establishment wild card and sidekick pragmatist such as Mully and Sculder (good name for cats btw). In your average, run of the mill possession cases a visit or two from Max Von Sydow should suffice albeit worth getting home insurance on that one. Your average encased-in-carbonite rescue does require thermal grenades and optional Princesses but is eminently doable.  And finally for your common or garden human sacrifice hostage....err...

Here in lies last weeks quandary. Personally I can only recall Big Trouble in little China, though that was a critical dagger throw by the hero I believe...and as a Paladin I rather look down on stabbing people in the back even if they are about to do the same. No, I made the right choice and charged in madly waving my sword. OK I rolled a 1, critical failure, and blamed everyone else. Completely ignoring my intended target I decided to engage a completely different foe. Perhaps for a Paladin there are no better of two evils but that is little consolation as the hostage not only lost his life but also his soul it seems as his body became a conduit for a thoroughly antisocial demon that came pre packaged with another set of critical failures to hand out.

What can you do eh ? Well it occurred to me far too late that of course I could have gone for the stabbee rather than the stabber. Ok, I would have critically failed but I could have taken the dagger blow for him instead; I could even have hurt or killed the hostage but at least I would have saved his soul and his relatives may even have got a pay out via Paladin Injury Lawyers 4U. There is basically no reason to save a Hero in a Roleplaying game.

I think what I am trying to say here is don't believe everything you see in movies..
 
Heroes die but are not forgotten.




Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Agression is the better part of Valour


 
Seems like everyone is happily killing things at the moment. Not sure whether this is human nature, or in some cases, elven/dwarven/hafling/tiefling nature but conversations are short and swords are long. I wonder if there is a trend in this sort of behaviour. Are we as role players slipping below the surface of our civilized minds as primeval apes and indulging our darker selves or is there really a higher purpose in mind; a just cause and justification for the higher good. Patience is actually my issue both in reality and in my character's, but whilst its always tempting to machete through a scenario the strategy usually has is drawbacks. I suppose fate plays its part at the end of the day and on occasion offers rewards as its own punishments so its always good to learn from mistakes. Provided your not dead.
 
In the DnD there has been an attempted assault on a goblin cave and whilst a slippery water ward has been circumvented, the party had run into another bunch of Goblins who, being very proud of themselves in their hostage management skills, have blackmailed the party to take out a Bugbear. This was however, meticulously planned and successfully executed so to speak as traversing a high bridge and large tunnel put our party in the ideal spot of slaughtering foes as they came - first a batch of henchmen and then the Bugbear itself followed finally by its wolf. Just like a murder mystery, everyone seems to have had a stab in this one.
 
In the 13thAge we seem to have walked into our third altercation of the day; zombies, drunken dwarves and evil wizards. We had been following a trail of dead bodies and arrived at a warehouse where we had to invite the occupants onto our swords, including a rather nasty looking two headed donkey (worse than it sounds). Finding nothing of note after the fight we did hear some chanting from a secret opening that has led us into a cave complex replete with wailing mages in some sort of disturbing ceremony. An entirely justifiable slaughter is on going but at present I will stick my neck out and say its looking good for us so far.
 

 
 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

What a Knightmare

 
 
For those who remember and even possibly took part, reminisce back to the days when it was perfectly fine to put a waste paper bin on a child's head an humiliate them publically. Find below a link to the Fearsomly Fearsome Lord Fear and click on it if you dare - expect at least 40% more danger !!


He will be in Brighton on the 18th:
Here is his lair..
 
 
A hearty welcome to Dave at the 13th age, who rather schizophrenically inherited the Angry West Country Barbarian Dwarf for the evening. Whilst its difficult in principal to share characters, it would not be a bad idea if we introduced an additional fighter actually in this case as we almost died when the Zombies attacked us in the morning and then almost died again in the evening at the hands of drunken dwarves who decided they didn't like our beards. Thankfully a drunken brawl is not considered life threatening in the 13th Age so GM Jack let that one go, but I fear we are not long for this world unless we get more muscle...we shall see...
 
Nevertheless we got a little further down the trail of our Zombie mystery and naturally anyone creating a zombie gang does need an unhealthy supply of dead bodies. This has taken us to a very Eastenders looking warehouse where we are currently attempting to make an entrance...
 
The DnD was on a break as GM Warren was on nightwalking duty but I believe GM Jules was taking the initiative and getting Warhammer characters rolled up for some private sessions he is running - there may be spaces left...

 
 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

DnDnDnD



Seems that 5e is keeping players very interested. Whilst we see some volatility occasionally in new members coming and going, so far we seem to have more sticking around than usual. Must be my new deodorant. So GM Jon will be starting a new game in order to split the ridiculously large 8 player group of GM Warren - therefore like any big successful international conglomerate our stock splits two for one!  GM Jo will be running a one off Savage Worlds tonight also so plenty of choice available for new players.
 
 
Meanwhile in the 13th Age we are on the tail of some dodgy Wizards it appears. We have started asking around at the Lusty Prawn which is the best name for a pub I have ever heard of, though it seems an appropriate place for our Angry Westcountry Pirate Barbarian to hang around.
 
 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Braaaaaaiiiiiinns ?

Well the 13th Age games advances and it would appear that we have a zombie mystery on out hands. Seems that a trip to market has turned into an undead massacre of nightmare proportions.. Anyone who has been into Primark on a Saturday will get the idea.
 
All the players are developing a rather quiet respect for the system as it flows very well, its simple and accessible and the  occasional quagmire of combat logistics simply isn't there. The use of an escalation dice is also an inspired touch which means that the longer rounds try and drag on for then the faster they will actually go. Brilliant.
 
I do have one bug bear so far and that was to do with a zombie at the back throwing watermelons at us. Fair enough except these melons were doing more damage than the melee weapons. This is one for the MythBusters I think although I appreciate that simulating a watermelon casting Zombie presents it own difficulties. Whilst I am one to whinge I do respect what goes on in a game and managed to charge down said meloner within a whisker of my life. To be honest there will be a lot of charging down where Paladins are concerned.
 
Suspicions in the party regarding our diabolist continue... it would seem that it was in fact her mother that was the evil one and that our Tamara just taps the gifts given to her for the wider good. Mmmm problem is that I'm thinking more along the lines of mother in Psycho...