Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Creature Feature: Blood Spirit

There's no vampire listing in the Peryton RPG monster section. That's because I was picturing a more medieval folk tale version of vampires and werewolves, primarily a manifestation of possession by certain kinds of spirits.  It's pretty easy to do that with the tools provided in the game, but, to speed up the process and maybe spark some inspiration, here's a more firmly defined vampiric spirit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The War on the Friday Creature Feature

I won't be posting a creature feature on Christmas Eve, even though it's Friday.  Sorry.  Okay, actually I'm not sorry at all; live with it.  I'm planning to start up again the following Friday (yes, New Year's Eve, but that'll be before the partying starts).

Happy Holidays, everybody!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Friday Creature Feature: Dryx

I was going to write all about how spirits are responsible for the concept of vampires and werewolves, but I got kind of busy with other things this week, so that story and the associated stat blocks will have to wait. Here's something freaky to keep you occupied in the meantime.

Oh, but before we dive into the monsterness, let me plug another creature featurin' blog, Paul Ingrassia's Troll Hammer. I didn't do it consciously, but it seems pretty likely that I accidentally swiped the name from here. As he pointed out, of course, we both swiped the name from so many other places that "swiped" isn't really the right word anymore, but hey, it's a cool blog so I wanted to give him a nod.

Anyway, even though it's technically still Thursday, here's the dryx:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Creature Feature: Silver Song

SILVER SONG
Tiny Outsider (Spirit)
Hit Dice: 1d6
Speed: fly 30 (perfect)
Armor Class: 20 (+2 natural, +2 size, +3 dexterity, +3 spirit)
Attack Bonus: +5 melee
Damage: bite 1 + draining touch
Special Qualities: Draining Touch, Telekinesis, Manifestation, Rejuvenation
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +5
Abilities: Str 4, Dex 17, Con -, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 17
Environment: green places

Silver songs resemble silvery snakes, generally around fifteen inches long, with prismatic dragonfly-like wings. As they fly, the droning of their wings seems to dance between tones with purpose, sketching the outline of a song that can just barely be heard. They are curious, mischievous spirits and enjoy encouraging these traits in others.

Detect Thoughts: A silver song can continuously use detect thoughts as the spell (caster level 18th; Will DC 15 negates). It can suppress or resume this ability as a free action.

Suggestion: The music of the silver song can influence listeners who aren't even aware of what they're hearing. The ability functions much the same as the spell, requiring a DC 16 Will save to resist the compulsion. Generally, the silver song will use this ability to nudge people into action when the spirit feels they're being overly cautious.

Other Spell-Like Abilities: (at will) color spray, silent image, any cantrip.  The more powerful silver songs have additional spell-like abilities like major image, hypnotic pattern, and levels in character classes like wizard and mystic.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Snow!

I've been dreading it, but I have to admit, now that the winter weather is settling in (or maybe I should say "Christmas weather" so I'm not accused of persecuting the poor helpless teabaggers) it kinda feels like coming home.

Friday Creature Feature: Golden Roar

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm going to put up a new monster for Peryton RPG every Friday. Since a lot of the game's magic involves spirits, I thought some more of those might be useful to start with.

GOLDEN ROAR
Large Outsider (Spirit)
Hit Dice: 10d8+10
Speed: fly 30
Armor Class: 20 (+2 natural, +3 dex, +5 spirit)
Attack Bonus: +9 melee, +6 ranged
Damage: bite 1d8+5, claws 1d4+5
Special Qualities: Damage Reduction 10/magic, Frightful Moan (roar), Malevolence, Manifestation, Rejuvenation
Saves: Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +12
Abilities: Str 21, Dex 17, Con -, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 20
Environment: Mountains

The golden roars are celestial spirits, beings of order.  They live by an inflexible, inhuman philosophy, and can't even comprehend why others don't do the same.  A golden roar's usual form is that of a towering humanoid with a lion's head.

Smite: Once per day, a manifested golden roar or one in possession of a material body, can make a normal melee attack to deal an extra eight points of damage.

Reintegration: As the templar ability of the same name.  Golden roars can heal the living, or damage undead, for forty points per day by touch.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Tomorrow: Friday's Fiend

Or, I dunno, maybe, "Friday Creature Feature"?  What do you think?  It won't necessarily be fiendish every time.

Anyway, I was going to go ahead and post another Peryton RPG monster today and then I thought, hey, why not make this, you know, a thing?  As in a reliable, scheduled, thing.  I don't think I'd keep up with a monster a day for very long, but I could manage one a week.  And, if I'm going to do that, why not wait one more day for Friday instead of Thursday, a day no one will remember?

So there ya go. Tomorrow, a new monster. Be there or... I dunno... It would kind of hurt my feelings, I guess.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tentacles from the Treetops

Still haven't finished the Carnage travel log or posted anything substantial about the Doctor Who game from over a week ago, but hey, here's a monster for the Peryton RPG:


TREE CUTTLE
Large Magical Beast
Hit Dice: 8d8+11
Speed: 30 (60 brachiating)
Armor Class: 22
Attack Bonus: +10
Damage: tentacle 1d4+5, bite 1d8+2
Special Qualities: 8 attacks
Saves: Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +3
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 5, Wis 15, Cha 15
Environment: warm forest

The tree cuttle is an arboreal cephalopod that lurks in trees and ambushes prey from above. In addition to its fearsome tentacles and spiny shell, the tree cuttle possesses a startling glimmer of intelligence, building elaborate nests and occasionally even going so far as to set snares.

Psychic Camouflage: The tree cuttle also has rudimentary psionic abilities which it uses to emit a kind of psychic static that keeps people from thinking to look for it. Apply a secret -6 penalty to any search checks or other rolls to detect danger whenever a tree cuttle is nearby. A side-effect of this ability is that it sometimes creates minor hallucinatory effects. A fire might seem to have a oddly-colored halo, or a rustle of leaves might seem to carry an undercurrent of bells tinkling.

Yeah, sure, I posted this on the Peryton Publishing forum a while back, but it's new here.  I'm thinking of doing more like this every now and then.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Carnage the 13th

Sick as I was for the first part of last week, I never stopped looking forward to Carnage. Last year's hastily thrown-together expedition and the drive home had been one of my favorite trips in a long time. This year I was taking extra time off to make a good long weekend of it.

Wednesday
We took off after work with the intention of driving as far as we felt like, stopping for the night, and going on in the morning.  Somewhere along the way, I realized that I had once again forgotten my good camera and would have to rely on my serviceable but flash-less phone for all our pictures.  Mavis, our trusty GPS gizmo (so named because the voice somehow sounds like a "Mavis" to me), guided us right to a cozy, relatively cheap motel in Syracuse (which, in the native tongue of the Onondaga Injuns, means "place of stopping for the night" and, despite what some pernicious liars would tell you, has nothing to do with any place in Sicily).

Thursday
Mavis took us over hill and dale (mountain and gorge, more like) to the shores of Lake Morey, where I was practically jumping up and down with excitement over the pre-con game we were about to play.  Before that, though, we said hi to some friends from last year and met a few new ones.  Tom, Christy, and I went out to an excellent Greek pizza place called Leda's with Tyler Dion, another of the Carnage organizers.  I had somehow pictured Tyler as being angry and intimidating (maybe because his name sounds like Tyler Durden, or because he runs GURPS) but he was actually quite agreeable.  He had a scarf like Tom Baker's in Doctor Who and he didn't burn my hand with lye even once.

Done with dinner, it was time to get back to the resort for The Andre Experience.  Andre runs his games in a dark, closed-off room which he decorates with props appropriate to the scenario and tricks out with a professional lighting and sound system.  Combined with his intense storytelling style, some great players, and creepy scenarios (okay, I can really only speak for "Incident at Owl Lake"), this gives you the kind of powerfully immersive gaming experience that might just make Tom Hanks think he can fly.  It totally lived up to my expectations.

Friday
I slept in on Friday, partly to make sure I was over my cold and partly because I expected it to be my only chance to do so.  Once I got out in the halls, I wandered around, picked up my con badge, checked out the somewhat spare but interesting exhibit hall, and finally found Tom hanging out with some friends because nobody showed for his game.  Throw in a few more impromptu gatherings, a Spacers game, and a few trips to the conveniently-located lobby bar for bourbon & Coke, and you've pretty much got the flavor of Friday.  I did some final prep work for my game ("Beyond the Caves of Chaos") the next day and went to bed early.

Saturday
I had to be up early because I signed up for the eight o'clock session.  I don't know why I did that, but I did.  Anyway, I had a nice little trip to the Keep on the Borderlands set up using the Doctor Who RPG rules.  Player characters included a psychic agent, a wizard, a thief, an ill-tempered robot, and a flamethrower-wielding ewok based on my sister-in-law's character from our Star Wars campaign.  Tom played too.  I was pleased to see that the magic rules I grafted onto the game worked well, and everyone seemed to enjoy slipping between fragmented realities, evading pyramid-heads and robo-apes in addition to the usual Gygaxian fauna.

After lunch I got drafted into a game of Witch Hunter, in which I took the role of Sister Agnes of the Ashen Cross, a perpetually depressed nun with magic prayer powers.  We rampaged through the seventeenth century world of the Dark Providence campaign digging up graves (although Sister Agnes opted to wander off and pretend that she didn't know this was happening), tying up rogue priests, delivering stern lectures, and picking up owl-demons & bonking them on the head.  Neat game and a fun bunch of players.  The "sin points" mechanic that makes misbehaving both a temptation and, ultimately, a bad idea, was cool.

After a quick dinner downstairs catching up with friends, I found out that the event I had signed up to attend early Sunday morning was also being offered as a midnight game.  This sounded great to me, so I wandered about in search of registration options and, failing that, the guy running the event.  Finding neither, but having been advised that it would probably be fine to just show up, I wandered off and took a nap while Tom ran his massive Call of Cthulhu event.

Showing up worked just fine.  "One More from the Vault" was listed as a nostalgic trip through a yet-undetermined 1st Edition AD&D adventure.  The group gathered somewhat slowly while Tom's Call of Cthulhu game was still in full swing across the room.  We ended up settling on Tegel Manor, a trip through a suspiciously dungeon-like haunted mansion.  I got out my very first set of polyhedral dice (not counting the crappy ones that came in the Basic & Expert D&D boxes) for the occasion, and they served me well.  We played until four o'clock in the morning and nobody really wanted to stop, but we had slain some monsters, rescued some captives, and come to a good stopping place, and several of us had to travel the next day.

It was, as promised, a really fun old school romp and the nostalgia is still clinging to me.  It was also the only time this weekend that I stayed out later than Tom.  And, really, the game as we played it may be superceded, but it still works admirably well for its intended purpose.  I think I'll hold babbling about the relative advantages of different D&D editions for another time, though... if ever. If you're interested in that topic, you can find enough to make you wish you'd never asked, just by browsing the Internet.

Sunday
I didn't have to get up early after all, but I didn't feel any great compulsion to sleep in, so I was up and about fairly promptly and packing up while Tom was... I'm not sure what Tom was doing.  Anyway, we caught up to each other at one of the gaming tables surrounded by friends and then wandered off to the exhibit hall, where Tom bought some C.J. Henderson books and then was cleverly maneuvered into buying a Dark Magic and Donuts print.  I didn't leave with any new goodies this year, but I had daydreams of running some kind of Ravenloft II based event (which I'm fairly certain will never happen) to entertain me.

And then there's the trip home, which is going to be worth a whole blog in itself.



Oh, and here's the link to Tom's write-up.  Don't believe his lies.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween, Rings, and Solo Things

Two things.  I finished re-reading The Lord of the Rings, and I played a Tunnels & Trolls solo.

There's not a lot to say about The Lord of the Rings.  It's still Tolkien: fascinating world-building, moldy old morals, fun travel & exploration, some poignant scenes, some eagles ex machina, and a huge nostalgia trip.  It's been a long time since I've gone all the way through the series, although I've re-read the first one several times over the years.  This may, in fact, be only the second time since I was nine years old that I've read The Return of the King.

The T&T solo was "The Farmer's Daughter," one of the entries in our Elder Tunnels Halloween Special.  Since I didn't have to edit this one, I had the luxury of not reading anything but my own scenario until after it was published.  Apart from a Longest Night special by Ken which was more of an imaginative multi-page Christmas card than an actual adventure, this is my first T&T solo. I had always enjoyed the Endless Quest books and kind of liked the crunchier D&D solo adventures with actual dice-rolling that followed, and I adore Steve Jackson's disturbing Sorcery epic, so I was curious to see how this would compare.

The adventure is well done.  The writing is moody and atmospheric without dragging, and the twists and turns are exciting. I thought the zombie scene was especially creepy. (I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that, somewhere in the story, there are zombies.) Still, maybe I can't help a certain amount of bias towards anything from Peryton Publishing, so I'll keep the praise to a minimum. On to the downside of my solo experience:

The T&T community loves its solos, so you'd think the rules would be really well adapted to that style of play. In some respects, they are, but T&T combat is kind of depressing when you have to take both parts yourself. Calculate dice+adds from monster rating, roll monster dice+adds, roll your dice+adds, subtract, apply difference (minus armor) to constitution score, blah, blah, blah. And if it's not really one-sided, it takes forever. At least, it seems like forever. It's fun with someone else taking half (or more) of the burden and facilitating unexpected ideas. Not so much when you're huddled over a book alone and you just want to get on with the story. The drag is compounded when you're doing high-level combat. Even with dice-reducing formulae in play, the eternal grind of those enormous numbers makes going to bed early sound better and better.

So, yeah, I sort of cheated. I scaled everything down to a lower level, called the fights early when the direction seemed clear, and had a good time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Elder Tunnels Halloween Special


My horror adventure, "The Ephemera Furnace" is in this one, along with three others by some other people, edited and laid out by somebody else, with some art by... I dunno... artists. Did I mention that I wrote one of the scenarios?

http://perytonpublishing.com/elder_tunnels.htm#Halloween2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rogue Weekend

No Doctor Who game this weekend.  We were all too busy with the City of Heroes reactivation fest.  I've tried a few MMO's that I thought were cool (and some that I didn't), but none of the others ever hooked me and kept pulling me back in like that one does.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Dear Cleveland

I'm thrilled that you're looking out for the roads in my neighborhood.  Seriously, the city is looking much better these days, and I'm grateful.  I was just wondering, though, if you really think FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING is the best time to be firing up that jackhammer. 

Just, you know, something to consider.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Return of the Editor

So, with everybody's character made, a bit of scenario-tinkering done, and a quick side chat with Shelly about Mr. Tripp's background, we were ready to get started.

After a quick CGI zoom from space, the camera settled on Angelo's Pizza in Cleveland, where Sally and Rick were just closing up for the night. On their way to the car, they heard glass breaking in the vintage record store across the street.  While they discussed whether they should call the police, investigate for themselves, or some combination of the two, Alan Tripp came dashing out of the store, followed by two clockwork robots disguised as parking attendants.  Sally screamed (Jack had been itching for the chance ever since he saw that "screamer" was a useful trait) and they all ran away while the robots were looking around baffled.

Once they got a couple of blocks away and there was no sign that the robots had followed them (Sally and Rick having made a point of following Alan).  Alan asked if this was Cardiff and Rick said, "Is that in Pennsylvania?"  Alan introduced himself as "Mr. Tripp" and explained that he was pursuing a fugitive named Harkness but some kind of feedback had damaged his vortex manipulator and dumped him in the room with two hostile robots.  The readings suggested that a zygma beam device had been activated here, but he had never heard of such a device actually being used.  In response to his query about possible temporal anomalies (apart from the robots) in the area, Sally said, "Well, the record shop does sell vinyl."

Rick wished Alan luck and was eager to get home, but Sally, already swooning, insisted that they couldn't just abandon this poor, time-lost peace officer, who didn't even have a place to stay.   

Since they had to pass the record store on the way to Sally's car, and everything appeared to be calm again, Alan decided to check it out, suggesting that Sally and Rick stay clear.  Of course, they went with him anyway.  It was immediately clear that the robots were still inside, dragging a fancy oriental wardrobe with some kind of intricate device, possibly a lock, in the middle.  A frosty-haired guy who looks like Simon Pegg was supervising.

Despite their attempt to be stealthy, he saw our heroes right away (Sally's a bit clumsy and has no points in subterfuge).  "Ah," he said, smiling, "They told me I wouldn't have any help from the Agency until the cabinet was secured.  Well, what are you skulking around for?  Let's get to it."

"Yes, well," Alan said, "Mister Tripp, Time Agent, very pleased to meet you." (wink)

The stranger frowned but took Alan's hand, "You already know who I am.  I'm the Editor, last of the Time Lords, and I'm here for the same reason you are."

And it was getting late, so we stopped it there.  I'd love to explain all this, but my players read the blog sometimes, so you'll just have to find out when they do.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mister Tripp and Company

This past Sunday we kicked off my new Doctor Who campaign.  Shelly and Jack came over, and, since we moved it to a day he wasn't working overtime, Tom decided to join in.  I had a nice little low-key introductory scenario in mind where a group of present-day Earthlings are amazed to discover that there's a great gonzo Doctor Who cosmos out there.  I was putting some last details together while they passed around the Player's Guide to make their characters.  Then Shelly asked me if she could play a 51st century time agent.

Technically, it's one of those special options that the GM can freely rule out, but - come on - how could I ever show my face at a convention again if I told a player in a Doctor Who game that she couldn't be a time agent?  And what kind of GM can't work around a little surprise?  Also, I'm trying to win over a bunch of hard core T&T fanatics to a new game, so I have to use all the enthusiasm I can find, right?

So here's what we ended up with:
  • Alan Tripp (Shelly): a time agent who looks like James Marsters but isn't the same character as the one he played in Torchwood.  Alan grew up in a colony on Skaro, an attempt to re-settle the planet at a time when the Daleks were thought to have been destroyed.  Alan likes to be called "Mister Tripp" and has a broken vortex manipulator (basically Shelly can spend story points to make it do stuff, but it's otherwise useless).
  • Sally Kingfisher (Jack): waitress at a pizzeria who would shortly develop a crush on Alan. Sally wants to be a veterinarian.
  • Rick Waters (Tom): manager of the same pizzeria and Sally's jealous boyfriend. Fairly clever but a bit oblivious and flighty. Although not technically adept himself, he always seems to have the right thing in his pocket.
Everyone took their time on the characters (except Tom, who always breezes through that stuff) partly because I was the only one who had played the game before and partly because it's a point buy system, so it's never going to be one of those "roll up a character that you'll most likely kill before morning and rock on" games.  Still, with attributes on a point-for-point scale, only twelve skills, and traits that only get complicated if you want them to, it's a quicker start than a lot of games I've played.

Anyway, the point is, this wasn't going to be a long session.  Aaaand, I think I'll go to bed now and finish this later.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Strange Morning

I hope to put up the summary of Sunday's Doctor Who game soon but, for now, I just wanted to say what a weird day this is.  Woke up around four in the morning to a blacked-out house, found out later it was all over Cleveland and nobody seemed to know why.  Walked to the bus stop in a cool, peaceful fog with no street lights.  Whole thing has a very otherworldly feel to it.  Latest thing I've heard is, "a preliminary investigation shows a protective relay sent an incorrect signal to a major transmission line, shutting the line down."

When the fog rolled in and the power went out, I was sure I was finally going to have to pay the price for Grandpa burning down that leper colony on Lake Erie.

Oh, and here's a link: http://www.wcpn.org/WCPN/news/32258

Friday, September 24, 2010

Prophet Crash

I occasionally check my horoscope for the same reason I read fortune cookies or listen to Rush Limbaugh. It's fun and sometimes the inkblot of untethered assertions makes me think of things I wouldn't have otherwise.  I must admit, though, that today's horoscope almost has me worried:

Scorpio
Sorry an error was encountered while loading your horoscope.

Did my future just blue-screen?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Secret History of Troll Hoot

No one can tell you what the Troll Hoot is, Neo; you have to see it for yourself.

A few years back, we got the idea that we could get together with some friends scattered about the Ohio area for periodic gaming.  Nothing too serious, just every few months.  We started out with a trip to Columbus for some Call of Cthulhu at the Red Roof Inn.  That was fun, but we never really followed through.  A fair bit later, Tom started announcing an upcoming "Troll Hoot" in Dayton with an open invitation to not only our current friends, but the whole Tunnels & Trolls (hence the name) community.

I thought it was a bit crazy, announcing this like a convention when it clearly was not, but Caed-Robin, always up for a party, signed on, followed soon by our friends-to-be, Mandy and Steve (and their dogs). We gamed and ate out and lurked in the gloomy bar and generally had a blast.  So, there it was, a weekend of Tunnels & Trolls (and one of those trendy card games which I slept through) pulled off with no regrets.  Even the run-down hotel was good for a laugh.  We all agreed to do it again in a nicer place next year.

In the midst of all this, we met Monk at one of Tom's Gen Con events and they started chatting online.  When we announced Troll Hoot II, Monk said he would be flying in from Arizona to attend.  I kept asking Tom, "Does he realize it's just us?"  Apparently he did.  This Troll Hoot began the tradition of people running games other than T&T, with Monk adding some TAG to the mix and Steve introducing us to Rifts.  Troll Hoot II also began the tradition of Caed promising to join in but ditching, and me scheduling a Star Wars event and then canceling it. Robins are fey and unpredictable creatures.

We skipped a year because 2009 was kind of crazy but, in 2010, with a lot of help from our friends, another Troll Hoot fell together, with a new player at that.  I really couldn't complain anymore; the silly name worked.  The non-con lives on.

So far, I've always left it to Tom to write these things up, so the summary blogs listed here are all his:


Troll Hoot IV is in the planning stage (update: see here instead).  We're thinking downtown Mansfield in late April or early May, and I'm giving up on my old Star Wars event (which I did finally run in Arkansas, inadvertently kicking off a campaign that went on without me) in favor of the game I'm currently infatuated with, Doctor Who.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Allons-y!

Looks like my Doctor Who campaign with Jack and Shelly (and Tom?) is a go for Saturday the 25th.  I'm planning to have them make up their own characters rather than play the Doctor and companions.  As much fun as it is to run the familiar stars in one-off sessions, I think the focus on imitation would stifle any kind of character development in a campaign.  Besides, I'm always eager to meet the new faces that my friends put on at the game table, and they wouldn't be new if they all came from the show.

Already got some ideas for hurling them into the Time Vortex, but I want to see their characters before I set it in stone.  I'm putting together a some details of a setting and some creatures & NPC's for a first adventure, which hopefully I'll be able to arrange on the spot for our first session.  Jack & Shelly don't have the books, though, so we'll also be making characters at the table, and I suppose it's possible that they'll come up with something that'll require more detailed adaptation.  We'll see.  One of the things I love about this game is that it's really easy to improvise with.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Top Secret Project

I just got started working with my new collaborators and I'm pretty excited.  As you can see, Antigone here has worked her paws to the bone this weekend and finally collapsed over the keyboard.

Unlike some cats I could mention, who just play on Facebook all day.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Gygax Speaks

"Oh, mighty statue of the Most Holy Creator, we high priests of the Old School have come to make this offering of polyhedra and to seek any new wisdom you would offer us."


 (and the sound you just heard would be the entire Order having a heart attack at once)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Einstein Will Burn Your Bible

Wow.

E=mc2 Is a Liberal Conspiracy Against Jesus
By Max Fisher | August 10, 2010 10:13am

Andy Schlafly, son of controversial conservative figure Phyllis Shlafly and founder of Conservapedia, the ideologically oriented alternative to Wikipedia, has found a new bugbear: the theory of relativity. Shlafly insists that Albert Einstein's world-changing idea, elegantly expressed in the equation E=mc2, is part of a pervasive and long-held liberal conspiracy to make people have abortions and stop believing in Jesus...

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/features/view/feature/Emc2-Is-a-Liberal-Conspiracy-Against-Jesus-1788

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

House Condemned

(with apologies to Langston Hughes)

What happens to a house condemned?
Does it bleach out
Like old paint in the sun?
Or shelter angry thugs--
Just for fun?
Does it slouch over sidewalks on the street?
Or feed the hungry termites--
with its starchy treats?
Maybe it stays up
till its nails corrode.
Or does it explode?

In reference to:
http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/08/save_the_langston_hughes_house.html

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

9+1=GenCon2010


So... I'm back from another Gen Con.  I suppose I should start with getting there.  Monday and Tuesday were spent sleeplessly scrambling to get all the stuff ready that I had been not quite getting ready for a long time.  Somehow this led to Wednesday morning, when I woke up in a culvert leading down into the Flats.  More disturbing than this, perhaps, is the fact that Tom already knew where I was and came to pick me up on the way out of town without being called.  Another stroke of luck was that I (or perhaps the person or people responsible for leaving me in that ditch) had, at some point, made all the character sheets and props I was going to need, and written down enough notes to get me through the games I would soon be running.

Wednesday
On the way in, we stopped for lunch across from the site of this year's Troll Hoot.  For possibly the first time ever, we were able to move along without having to spend much time glowering at Columbus, and there were no construction projects on I-70.  WAHOO!

After checking in at the Looking Glass, we set out through the hundred-degree steam-bath of Indianapolis to the convention center.  Tom stopped along the way for an impulse haircut, which gave us a nice air-conditioned respite midway.  First sight of the Fabled City of Nerds is always an emotional experience, and this one was no exception.  The fact that downtown Indy is such a pleasant and welcoming hang-out is definitely a part of it.  There's just nothing else like Gen Con.

The lines to pick up our badges looked pretty scary at first, but actually moved along with impressive speed.  I had some trouble getting my free swag, as you can see below, but other than that it was cool.

After drinks and a snack at the Alcatraz, Tom started up his Cthulhu Mansion adventure, while I tried to get in touch with Mike (Lea, not Larsen - let's just call the Arizona one Monk from now on to avoid confusion) and wandered around Union Station sticking my nose in whatever strange stairwell or tunnel presented itself.  I was rewarded with this tidbit, a hotel connected to the station in which some of the rooms (no doubt the really expensive ones) are inside old train cars that line the halls.  I also bumped into Caed and recovered a wandering YogPaul, which I captured and led to the Cthulhu Mansion game to fulfill its duties as co-keeper.

The good news is that the sauna was about to blow away and leave us with much cooler and dryer weather.  The bad news is that Mike was cruising right in on the crest of the storm that was clearing it out.  He managed to arrive without any clear idea of where he was or how to find a parking place, obliging me to sprint through the rain in a twisty multi-block path until I finally caught up with his car in order to guide him back to the Looking Glass.

Thursday

Tom was out the door before I was up, but eventually I got out there and helped Mike get his badge and stuff.  The policy towards cell phones seemed to have changed since last year, but luckily I was able to hide mine from the murderous mobile-manglers long enough to get clear of them. 

We had a big welcome to Gen Con lunch at Champions with everyone we could find (Me, Tom, Mike, Caed, Ken St. Andre, Monk, Kelly, and Zack (a new one for me).  I opened my big mouth and quite possibly got myself roped into a non-paying writing gig, and there was much rejoicing.  Then we broke off to dig into our various events.

Mike followed to watch my first session of Aqua Teen Hunger Force at the Mountains of Madness.  He was scheduled to play in a later session (as Carl), but didn't have anything else to do and there's really no spoiler that's going to matter in an Aqua Teen story.  Two guys, who I now remember only as Meatwad and Travis of the Cosmos, were already waiting, and a full table settled in shortly after, including Mike, who sat in on this session as Mothmonsterman.  This session may well be the most fun I've ever had a gaming table.  Several players did first-rate impressions of their characters, and even the ones that weren't stunningly on-target were exceptionally good.  The best compliment I got was "it's just like a new episode of the show."  I can't take all that much credit for that, but hey, I made the thing happen, right?  The session ended with a giant Old One (a mass of cardboard tubes and angry Meatwad-faces summoned "accidentally" by Frylock) destroying Australia while Meatwad found the secret of cosmic power and became ruler of the world, or at least New Jersey... or at least Shake.

Jerry from BASHCon was running Game of Thrones at the table next to me, so I invited him and Mike to come down to the nearest bar (Level One in the Hyatt) for drinks with Tom and whoever Tom was buying drinks for today.  It must have been my psychic powers that told me where he would be.  Tom's companero turned out to be John Kennedy, of the non-famous Kennedys.  More happy milling-about ensued.  Somehow we ran into Monk and Kelly and ended up eating at Claddagh (minus Jerry and John) and then lounging on the steps of Union Station, where we were joined shortly by Sligo/Scott of Trollhalla and Indianapolis.  I tried to hang on for Tom's late night Cthulhu game but gave up and went back to the B&B to crash.

Friday

My first event of the day was my Beyond the Caves of Chaos True20 adventure (using extra rules & creatures from Qalidar).  That one went well.  I had a good group and I'm still liking True20, especially since I started using cards for the damage conditions.  The Pyramid Heads (a menace I stole from Tom) were great fun with their knockback/stun-only kazap pistols.  I was somewhat disappointed that my other main villains kept getting staggered so that the players never got shot by their bee guns.  Ah well.  Next time.

My next event wasn't until seven, and Mike was finally up, so we stopped at the Red Dragon Inn (which is normally the Circle City Grille in the Marriott) for some fantasy-themed drinks and snacks, then took a turn around the exhibit hall, which was dizzying as always.  I wandered over and chatted with Ken & Rick (mostly Ken because Rick was really busy) at the Flying Buffalo booth.  Shortly after, I'm reminded that Tom was planning some sort of dinner tonight.  Since Mike and I have an Aqua Teen game at seven, I decide to remind Tom of this.  Well, Tom is in a game (I later found out it was T&T) that was going just swimmingly.  "No time for chit-chat, old girl.  You can sort things, spic-n-span, eh?  There's a good lass." 

Never one to disappoint a Victorian gentleman, I returned to Flying Buffalo with my trusty sidekick and set about sorting things the best I could.  Ken and Rick would meet us all by the stage outside the exhibit hall and we would go to Champions from there.  Mostly, it worked fine, but here's the problem.  Ken and Rick were joining us at the most convenient dining spot after all the exhibitors were released from their cages in the exhibit hall.  All at the same time.  So, even when we switched over to Red Dragon, there was no way we were getting a table and moving on before the Aqua Teen game that Mike and I had coming up at seven.  So, sadly, we had to bow out on what looked to be a fun dinner and go on to our game.  I can lead my people to the Promised Land, but I must not enter.

A group of boardgamers had settled on our table, apparently having been told that it was an open gaming location, but they were very polite and even apologetic, so that was no big deal.  Then a strange cult of uniformly tee-shirted gamers asked us to switch tables so they could all be together, which was fine as well.  We got started with a much smaller group than before, featuring only Carl, Shake, and Frylock, with Meatwad as an NPC.  Mike played Carl.  With less frantic player activity, I had to provide a bit more plot to keep this one moving along.  Instead of re-building the fish-bot to fly to Antarctica, Frylock invented a matter-transmitter which, of course, left them no way to get home after confronting MC Pee-Pants (reincarnated as an Elder Thing wearing a diaper).  Another player showed up really really late and took over the Meatwad role.  It got a bit of a slow start and it was never quite as insane as the first one, but it did evolve into lots of hilariously surreal Aqua Teen fun.

Tom was off on his own doing something for the rest of the night, so Mike and I found some comfy chairs with a table in the hallway and tried out his newly purchased card game, Timelines.  Or Timestream.  Or something like that.  It was a fun game, and it's just so totally Gen Con to be out in some random convention hall nook playing a game you had never heard of until that day.

Saturday

Saturday's first game was at nine in the morning.  Crazy, I know.  I was almost on time, greeted by a table full of Aqua Teen fans who weren't going to give up that easily.  They were funny in their own right, but not as dead-on with the Aqua Teen style as the others had been.  Still, Shake tried to become a heavy metal rock star named Ingmar and Carl was used as a human landing cushion by Travis, only to be re-built by Frylock with mechanical penguin parts.  Everyone but Frylock and Meatwad died when they brought down the mountain and ignored it.

My next game was at two, so I found Mike and we did some more shopping.  I bought Eclipse Phase (I want it on record that I saw it and thought it looked cool before I knew about the awards) and we joined Tom at Acapulco Joe's, which is a bit of a hike from the convention center but, hey, it's pretty good Mexican.  Tom regaled us with the story of how some twit in his game was not only surprised but actually outraged when his Call of Cthulhu character died.  It's a horror game.  What else is gonna happen?

Stuffed, we waddled back to the convention center (the long hike not seeming like such a bad idea anymore) to get our next events going.  Tom had his Wrestlers vs. Dracula, Mike was off to try and get into a Star Wars Saga game, and I had another True20 Caves of Chaos session.  This team stealthily avoided the pyramid heads and staged a pretty clever ambush to nab the high priest so they could interrogate him.  One of them did walk right into my bee guns, though, and got stung to the point of incapacitation.  Yay, bee guns!  Neither this group nor the other one did much with my sub-plots, though.  I suppose that's to be expected.

We were occasionally interrupted by the joyous war-whoops of the unruly mob next to us, which turned out to be Tom's wrestlers.  I watched a bit of the end.  Tom would later downplay his own performance on several occasions, but I saw him brilliantly hamming up the announcer role, surrounded by guys who were having (and making) a resounding blast.

Tom and I hooked up with Mike (who had succeeded in getting to play Star Wars), Jordan, Monk, and Kelly at the Level One bar.  Kelly seemed to be enjoying her first Gen Con, mostly engaging in dark Victorian fairy-centric games, which is not surprising because Monk loves that stuff.  Monk & Kelly had other things to do, so Tom, Jordan, Mike, and I popped over to Champions.

While we were having dinner, Tom got a call from Todd Rooks, a friend and fellow Gen Con aficionado.  He plays in a group that meets at Gen Con for a once-a-year ongoing dungeon crawl campaign called the Short Nine.  The name comes from the fact that all the player characters are dwarves, halflings, and gnomes.  Thankfully, I didn't get a dwarf.  I hate the dwarves in fantasy games.  I think they were experimenting with 4E D&D last year, but this year it looked like pretty much straight Pathfinder.

Anyway, they had a couple of open slots, so Mike and I jumped right on that and joined in for a great game that ran well after midnight.  Mike's chipmunk-voice singing (he played a bard) and a few lucky contributions on my part apparently distinguished us enough to earn us entry into next year's game, "The Short Nine Plus One" (my character had been an NPC rescued by the original gang prior to my joining, and Mike's had been played by someone else). 

Having totally played through my scheduled midnight game without realizing it, I was pretty much done for the night.  Tom suggested that Mike and I take a cab back because he wanted to walk, believing that this would somehow help his aching ear.  Although his walk took a detour through the new Scotty's Brewhouse (which I never got around to visiting), he eventually made it home.

Sunday

Ah, Sunday.  Generally pleasant, but in a bittersweet way.  All my GM'ing events were done, so I had only a visit to Tom's Rat Pack Cthulhu game (Fly Me to the Moon, this year) and a final round of shopping on my agenda.  I was thrilled to see that the guy who had so brilliantly portrayed Frank in the original Rat Pack Cthulhu event was back for another performance.  We split up to drop off our collected event tickets and scour the exhibit hall on our own.  I picked up a Star Wars book (the Saga Edition sourcebook for Rebellion Era campaigns), a shirt that says "strike him down and take his place at my side," and a copy of that "who's a werewolf" party game (called something else officially, but I can't remember).  Tom got some Stackpole novels, a Delta Green book, and maybe some other Flying Buffalo stuff.  Mike picked up a shirt for Amy, some miniatures, and maybe some more Star Wars books.  I saw YogPaul, who was entangled with a vendor, and we lamented never getting a chance to hang out.  Guess where the rest of us met up for the after-party.

Back at Champions, we got a back room for myself, Tom, Mike, Monk, Kelly, and our new friend Diogo from Brazil.  We toasted New Khazan and Gen Con and new friends.  Mike left early because he had a longer drive home.  Not too long after, the rest of us took off as well.  I spent most of the trip home reading Eclipse Phase.  It's such an intricate world that I'm reading it pretty much straight through like a novel, and I haven't even gotten to the rules yet.  It's an amazing setting, though.  Can't wait to read more.

I'm thinking it would be easier to just do one scenario every time for next year's Gen Con, but it's hard to rule out so many other ideas.  I want to do another True20 one with the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (or maybe Tharizdun) instead of the Caves of Chaos and of course there has to be an Aqua Teen sequel.  I'm thinking, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and the Book of Beards, centering on the discovery of the long lost mythos tome, Les Barbes Bizarre.  Maybe I'll just end up doing two again.  And maybe something else will captivate me between now and registration time.

When we got home, I found this picture in my email box:
 
For an alternative (don't believe his lies) perspective on the event, check out Tom's blog.
For previous Gen Con posts, click here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Updated Gen Con 2010 Events

So here's the link to an old post about my (and Tom's) upcoming Gen Con events.  I edited it to cross out some canceled events and change POW events to Villains & Vigilantes or Lucha Libre.  Many of the "slots remaining" entries are now wrong.  Even if it's full, you've got a chance with the equivalent number of generic tickets and a bribe.  People often sign up for events at odd times (early morning, for instance) and then don't show, so that's always a good target.

http://www.christinalea.com/2010/04/gen-con-2010-events.html

Also, there's talk of an invite-only game of Villains and Vigilantes to be run back at the Looking Glass or in the open gaming area.

I'll probably be uploading pictures to this blog occasionally while I'm there.  They may or may not appear on Facebook.  The Facebook importer seems to get crazier and crazier as time goes on.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bomb Threat!

How many times have I dreamed of this happening at other jobs?

edited to add:
Okay, this is funny.  One of the biddies upstairs called the bomb squad because a man walked in, left a briefcase in the lobby, and left.  So while we're all outside, jokingly accusing each other of masterminding the incident, coming up with ever-more elaborate schemes to explain why someone would blow up a building in Independence, Ohio, the squad is executing what must have been a hilariously dramatic briefcase-opening procedure.  Turns out that the offending accessory belongs to the semi-retired consultant who shares our office.  Most likely scenario seems to be that he forgot what he was doing and left it there by mistake.  Another terrorist threat neutralized thanks to the vigilance of the people!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quote for the Day

Been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix lately:

Sokka: Look! Can your fortunetelling explain that?
Villager: Hfft! Can your science explain why it rains?
Sokka: YES!  Yes it can!

Yes, I'm still in Book One.  Haven't seen the movie, either.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Salieri Sits in the Old Gum Tree

Go on. Mock me. Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh!

That was not Kookaburra laughing, Father. That was God. That was God laughing at me through that obscene giggle. Go on, Signore. Laugh. Show my mediocrity for all to see. One day I will laugh at you.

Before I leave this Earth, Kookaburra, I will laugh at you.

Sunday, June 27, 2010