Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Random Dreams

I dreamed last night that I was at Carnage and I had already missed my D&D adventure and had nothing done on my Defenders adventure. Of course, I also dreamed about having a hideout in these weird secret tunnels, and a horror LARP in some snowy place in Wisconsin that turned into real supernatural horror in the middle.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Out of Order

I was suddenly hit by the inspiration to do a couple of chapters from the perspective of one of the villains (well, a sort-of-villain, anyway -- it's complicated) so now I've got this thing going on where I'm writing stuff out of order and I have three chapters-in-progress instead of one. Thank Grodd for Scrivener.

Monday, August 05, 2019


I didn't go to Gen Con this year because of dayjob bullshit and an extra trip I had to take. I didn't want to cancel and I missed seeing all the people I usually hang out with there, but it turned out to be kind of nice skipping all the hassles. I'm not sure I even want bother with it next year. Or ever.

I know, I know, I've said this before and still ended up back in Indy. Whatever. It's Monday.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Praising or Burying The Scrap Pile

Not long ago, my long-running Icons campaign came to a good stopping place. I decided to run a D&D adventure and then have everybody come back with new characters. (Much as I love the original characters, their dynamic was getting a little stale, despite a few fun shake-ups.) The other day, I proposed that, before we start, I do a one-shot to test out my Defenders adventure for this year's Carnage convention. Some talk of spinning that into a whole campaign followed, after which a couple of players suggested that this would mean the death of The Scrap Pile.

I have some cool plans to kick off the next phase of the campaign but, if it is over, I'm okay with that. I'm really proud of what we did there and I'm satisfied with the ending we've got. There are a few things that were never resolved, of course. They never really found out much about Covenant, and some plans I had for The Unbeholden, one of the first villain groups they went up against, never really took shape. That's just how it goes, though. There are always gonna be loose ends. I tended to leave them on purpose, anyway, so I'd always have ideas for the next adventure.

The Scrap Pile came from a team Tom and I created on the City of Heroes MMO. Later, I wrote a couple of stories about characters from the group. Even later, when I started my Icons campaign, I set it in the same world and the group, at a loss for a name, decided to just go with Scrap Pile. The game took a new, somewhat appalling, direction with the addition of Disco, and off we went.

The Scrap Pile campaign survived at least two long breaks and the departure of one of its founding members. It gave us four giant-sized annuals, an anniversary crossover event, and a Christmas Special.

The team went to outer space, other dimensions, Atlantis, and even Canada.

They fought a bunch of villains I made up, but they also fought Deathbird, Blastaar, The Destroyer, The Headmen, Man-Wolf, and Baron Karza, among others.

One of the players is writing a novella about his character (I'd link to his web page if he had one).

So, will I pick this back up and return to Beta City with these guys if that's the way the wind blows? Hell yeah, in a heartbeat. If it's over, though, I'll celebrate its glorious end with the same enthusiasm.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

There's No Coke

I wanna see a commercial for Coca-Cola that starts with Gabriel Byrne frantically searching a ship for something. Everywhere he looks, there's just a bunch of Pepsi. Stephen Baldwin shows up.

Byrne: There's no Coke!

Baldwin: What?

Byrne: You heard me, you dumb fuck! I said there's no Coke! I've looked in every fucking fridge! I've looked in every fucking cabinet! THERE'S NO -- FUCKING -- COKE!

Baldwin: I'm outta here.

Cut to Kevin Spacey, daytime, walking down the street. Pete Postlethwaite shows up to offer him a ride and and an ice cold Coca-Cola. Spacey smiles as he pops the can open and takes a drink. He holds it up to the camera like he's proposing a toast.

Cut with the sound of a blaring boat horn to the harbor, where a charred corpse floats, surrounded by mangled Pepsi cans, which somehow also float. Coca-Cola logo appears.

Voiceover: If they don't have Coke, get the fuck out.

... but that might not be the image they're going for.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Carnage 2019 Events

I'll update this post as stuff develops. The Carnage registration page is: https://tabletop.events/conventions/carnage-22

Defenders Again
Icons Assembled
Friday 7PM
Event 91, Snowshed Ballroom, SBL13
For some crazy reason I haven't settled on yet, the street-level heroes from the Marvel Netflix shows end up fighting crime together again. I'll write up a bunch of characters from the shows (and a pre-X-Men Dazzler) and let you pick the ones you want. There may be opportunities to tag in unused ones, too. This version of Dazzler is more in line with the early issues of her own series, before she developed the ability to store the sound energy she absorbs or started doing the constant "solid light" blasts. She'll have to rely more on immediate sound sources. Here's the list of potential characters: Jessica Jones, Hellcat (Trish), Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist (Danny), Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Dazzler, and my own version of Moon Knight, customized to be a better fit for the setting.

Mountain of Mirrors
Moldvay/Cook Dungeons & Dragons
Saturday 1PM
Event 93, Snowshed Ballroom, SBL13
The Pass of Shanafria -- the Mountain of Mirrors -- is cut off by forces unknown. Climb to the high mountain pass, put a stop to whatever malevolent forces are at work, and reopen the vital link to the lands beyond before it's too late. Inspired by the Endless Quest book of the same name. If you've already read it, don't worry, the adventure is mostly my own stuff. If I have the physical books in hand, I'll be using Old School Essentials to run this. The rules are the same so it won't really matter. Since the books aren't due out until October, though, there's a good chance I'll be using the originals instead.

Board Game
Saturday 7PM (still queued for scheduling)
Play a Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, or Wizard searching for lost treasure in a dungeon filled with monsters. Wizards of the Coast edition of the classic TSR board game. This usually only takes an hour or so to finish. I'll be happy to stick around for two or three sessions to fill up the time if everybody's into it.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

AKA Best Thing Ever

Okay, anybody who's still reading my posts knows that I'm totally ga-ga for Netflix's Jessica Jones show, so take this with however many grains of salt you need.

I'm about halfway through Season 3 and, while I hate to say anything before the end, the final season is looking like the best. On top of an exciting serial killer plot with street-level superheroes, it's got writers who clearly love their subjects. And I mean writer-love, not people-love. Nobody has it easy, but every one of them has depth. Whether I like these characters as people or not, I feel like I know them, and I care what happens to them. I could say more, but I don't wanna spoil anything on opening weekend.

Also, I'm super happy that Pryce Chang hasn't shown his douchey face. At least not yet.

But I'm still mad at Disney for killing it.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Getting Better All the Time

I've been feeling and generally functioning better lately. Maybe it's the longer days, maybe it's City of Heroes, maybe it's something I'm eating, or maybe it's a combination or something else entirely. Whatever it is, I've been getting up more cheerfully, getting to work earlier, getting more stuff done, and even drinking less. I mean, I still love my bourbon; I just don't go quite as far with it.

One thing that's made life a lot better is that I finally went out and got the prescription glasses I've been needing for the last few years. It's sooo much better than getting by on reading glasses. I sometimes just walk around looking at all the textures and little details of things that I hadn't noticed before. I wear them all the time. I want to have them welded to my skull.

Operation: Faceblock is still in effect, and probably will stay that way. One of these days I might even delete that account instead of just deactivating it. Socializing online is a lot more fun without Facebook trying to sink its sticky, slimy claws into me every time I try to check on my friends. I'm enjoying MeWe as a substitute but, even if I didn't like MeWe, I don't think I'd want to go back to Facebook. Some of my friends are probably mad because they have to click away from the blue god to reach me, but they'll live.

I've been writing a lot more too. I started taking two or three breaks at my dayjob in which I just go down to the bottom of the stairs by the basement door with my tablet and plug away. It's amazing how well it flows in that quiet little cell with nobody looking over my shoulder. I guess it's the real world equivalent of that mythical cabin where writers in movies go to finish their novels. Rich and/or imaginary people get quaint hideaways in the mountains; poor people get the bottom of a disused stairwell in Cleveland. Oh well, as long as it works.

What's really funny about it is that I'm actually more productive at the dayjob since I started doing this.

We haven't played D&D since the last blog, but it's supposed to happen this Sunday. Last weekend we played Wobble. I patched up my old character, Daisy, for the new rules and had a blast hamming it up with an over-the-top transatlantic accent and a plucky attitude. Tom wrote about what happened and how it went on his blog. There's another game scheduled for Friday night.

I think I've discovered my spirit animal. Check out the red-legged seriema. This bird stuns or kills its prey by picking it up and smashing it on a rock as many times as necessary. There's a video, too, of course.

e lb:d{ :ctkit: ai.z;; ·-btf tt tb :d

Here's hoping it all keeps on rolling for a while.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Mostly Games

The Nameless Way had been in a bit of a slump, but picked up quite a bit last month. I've gotten up to the part based on When a Star Falls, which is something I've really been looking forward to writing. That adventure leads into their first time travel jaunt in the novel, even though When a Star Falls came after that in the original campaign.

I think I already mentioned that our Icons game is on hold and I'm running the Goodman Games update of Isle of Dread for a change of pace. It's going... slowly. We've only had one session. There was supposed to be a second last weekend... and a few weeks before that, but those didn't happen. They didn't make it to the island last session. I had originally intended to play all the pre-island stuff out, but I've since decided to fast forward through most of it. I don't want this to take all year.

While Tom and I were down with a delightful cold/sinus infection combo, I tried out Audible. Audiobooks are great when it hurts to focus your eyes. It's also something two pathetic sick people can do together. We got through most of Ringworld that way. I'm totally hooked on the service now. Sometimes I even "read" on slow days at work. I'm listening to The Mothman Prophesies right now.

I stumbled across the Kickstarter for Old-School Essentials and was surprised that it was so tempting. I like 5th Edition D&D. I've got a bunch of stuff for it. Do I really want to go back to Basic/Expert, however well it's organized? So I dug up my old books and went through them, kind of ran through stuff in my head. My group didn't really play much B/X before we started on AD&D. Anyway, I decided that yes, I really do want to play this again and I backed the Kickstarter.

Schedule permitting, I intend to go to Carnage this year and run a B/X adventure (OSE if I have it in hand by then), but I didn't have any particular inspiration, so I went back to the DM'ing section and rolled some stuff. For the scenario, I rolled, "Escaping from Enemies," which I've done a bunch of times before and... I dunno. For the setting I got, "abandoned mine," which... okay... I guess. I even rolled the special monsters part using the random encounter tables. I'm planning on using 5th level characters, so I rolled once on the 6-7 table, and three times on the 4-5 table. I got Giant Scorpion, Blink Dog, Hellhound, and Caecilia. It'll be fun to try and make something out of all that.

Not sure what else I'll run. Maybe just Dungeon. Maybe Doctor Who. Still thinking.

Hey, City of Heroes is back! At least for now. Somebody got ahold of the server code and has released it to the public, where these people and probably others are running the game for anybody who wants to play. They've added several servers and it seems to keep running more and more smoothly. I was on last night and didn't get kicked off once. Of course, you never know where this kind of thing will end up. For now, though, it sure is great to be back in Paragon City.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Return to Chimney Rock

A few weeks ago, something -- I don't remember what -- reminded me of those old Choose Your Own Adventure books. With that, I immediately thought of The Mystery of Chimney Rock. I used to love this one when I was a kid. In a sudden fit of nostalgia, I looked up a copy and bought it. I don't know what happened to my original one. Boxed up in an attic somewhere, probably.

I played it through a few times and then discovered that several pages were missing at the end. Could be worse; at least I got to finish a few threads before I hit the wall. After that, I spent a little more time just seeing what else there was buried in the pages. There was a lot going on that I didn't remember, so even though it was disappointing to not be able to explore correctly, I had fun.

The other thing is, I started thinking that this would be a cool scenario to run as a real RPG adventure. I've always wanted to do a good haunted house scenario. I've tried a couple of times, but it never really felt like what I wanted. This book gives me some new ideas. Several of the threads seem to contradict each other continuity-wise, but I don't think reconciling them will be very hard. I was toying with the idea of running with the bit where it gets bulldozed at the end for condos, but I'll probably keep the house intact. I also thought of a way to merge the two that might be fun. We'll see. For the system, I'll probably use Vortex (the system behind the Doctor Who RPG) because I use it a lot and am very comfortable with it. Crawlspace is a possibility, though.

I won't be running this at Gen Con because I'm already signed up for my stuff there and I don't want to have to think about any new scenarios this summer. Maybe Carnage if I go. Or maybe I'll just run it for my friends.

Thursday, March 07, 2019


I have this thing I do to relax sometimes. I imagine myself floating on my back in the ocean, but only for a moment. Then I start to sink. As I watch the sun sparkle on the surface above, I sink right out of my skin. It's not scary or painful. It's kind of like when you peel off the dead skin after healing from a sunburn. I'm done with this ugly thing; let it float away. The light on the surface gets fainter and bluer and farther away, and I shed all the muscle and cartilage and tendons and vessels and all that gunk as I continue to sink. The same with the viscera, nerves, brain, everything soft, until I can't see the light above at all and I'm only a pure, white skeleton sinking through black water. But even my skeleton is worn away as I sink through the sand, and it's only my naked Mind that seeps into the rock below. And I'm free. I'm far away from everything that lives. None of the nattering voices, the obligations, the rules, the noble fucking causes, none of that can reach me. I'm free from all the aches and pains and itches and urges of the body I've left behind. Finally, in that dark, silent shelter, I can think for myself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

BASHCons and Wobbles and Facebooks!

"... oh my!"

BASHCon was this weekend in Toledo. I had fun hanging with the usual group. The organization was kind of a mess, but you know... BASHCon. I helped run part of Jerry's giant Keep on the Borderlands event and had a great time playing in Tom's Stay Alive game. Tom provides a bit more detail about the trip in his blog.

I helped Tom put Wobble together. I'm still helping actually, because the print version needed one more update to get it ready for distribution. Hopefully it'll go live soon. The PDF has been doing well.

I deactivated my personal account on Facebook. I'm calling it Operation: Faceblock. I just kinda started to think that Facebook was not the best thing for my mental health. I have some ideas why that might be. For one thing, there's the constant barrage of political and advice memes. I'll listen to anything any of my friends has to say, and I keep up on the news for the most part, but these regurgitated slogan pics don't help anybody. I had gotten to where I was even hiding the ones I agreed with, but it was a losing battle, because that's exactly the shit Facebook wants you to look at (and react to, and re-share). And then there's all the stupid little things it's constantly nagging me about. I'll miss being able to easily keep up with my friends, but I don't think it's worth it.

Anyway, what matters is that I'm taking a break to see if I'm right. I'm still on MeWe and Twitter. They don't seem to be as destructive, but we'll see. I'm feeling pretty good about it, so far.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Die Troglodytes Die

This follows last week's Greyhawk write-up.

Tuckras woke up while they were recovering,‭ ‬and they worked out a plan to take on the troglodytes.‭ ‬He was also really excited about the chance to see the fish priest,‭ ‬which he suspected was a kuo toa.‭ ‬Back in the smaller chamber,‭ ‬they found that a couple of troglodytes had moved ahead and camouflaged themselves for another ambush.‭ ‬Despite this,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬they went down fairly quickly.

To keep from being surrounded again,‭ ‬they had Jinso go out to pick a fight while they waited in the tunnel.‭ ‬In the narrow hallway,‭ ‬the troglodytes had to fight one at a time.‭ ‬The troglodytes were sitting around the priest while it chanted in some fishy language which no one could understand.‭ ‬Apart from Jinso's momentary temptation to abandon the plan and run off into the cavern,‭ ‬it went as planned.‭

Advancing again into the now troglodyte-free cavern,‭ ‬they found the kuo toa standing alone.‭ ‬Undaunted by their numerical advantage,‭ ‬it proceeded to lecture them in fish-speak,‭ ‬gesticulating emphatically as it did so,‭ ‬and occasionally throwing in a random thunderclap by waving its staff.‭ ‬Violence eventually broke out,‭ ‬at which point the priest called up its pet,‭ ‬a giant crayfish,‭ ‬from the pool.‭ ‬They still killed the kuo toa and wounded the crayfish enough that it fled into the underground stream.‭ ‬The kuo toa‭ ‬had‭ ‬some goodies.‭ ‬There were lots of tunnels branching away.

And that's the end of the notes. Next, they wandered through a portal to the Feywild, completely skipping the rest of the cave complex. After some poking around, they found their way to Castle Amber. They explored quite a bit of that before the campaign stalled out.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Ambush After Ambush

This follows last week's Greyhawk write-ups.

At the bottom of the stairs,‭ ‬they found a stinky rubble-strewn basement.‭ ‬Tuckras,‭ ‬the last one in,‭ ‬suddenly collapsed by the entrance.‭ ‬Vyph saw a shadowy figure dart up the stairs.‭ ‬Sakura checked on Tuckras while the others chased the shadow.‭ ‬Tuckras had a small wound like a bee sting on the back of his neck and wouldn't wake up,‭ ‬but seemed to‭ ‬be okay.‭ ‬Sakura stayed to make sure he didn't get eaten or something.

The shadowy figure ran out into the courtyard,‭ ‬pursued by the heroes.‭ ‬Jinso attacked him hand-to-hand while Vyph cast entangle on both of them.‭ ‬The assassin was a human with a big scar‭ ‬down the right side of his face.‭ ‬He had Anton in a big burlap sack for some reason.‭ ‬The fight dragged on,‭ ‬but eventually they bashed his skull in.‭ ‬They found vials of sleep poison and lethal poison,‭ ‬but‭ ‬no antidote.‭ ‬Tuckras seemed stable,‭ ‬but still refused to wake up.‭

In the course of searching the basement,‭ ‬they found some money and a three-foot high worked passageway.‭ ‬Dragging Tuckras along,‭ ‬they decided to investigate.‭ ‬The passage led to a vertical shaft of the same size.‭ ‬Anton cast light on a coin and dropped it to see how deep it was.‭ ‬Once they knew it was a manageable depth‭ (‬35‭')‬,‭ ‬they tied a‭ ‬rope to Tuckras‭' ‬bedpost staff and laid it across the shaft to anchor their rope.

At the bottom,‭ ‬they found a natural cavern.‭ ‬Sakura saw a threatening shadow‭ ‬with raised claws and blasted it with a thunderwave,‭ ‬revealing that it was actually a petrified troll.‭ ‬The arm broke off,‭ ‬so they kept that for Tuckras.‭ ‬A passageway with chiseled-out stairs led down past the troll.‭ ‬At the bottom was another natural cavern with several branching passages and a stream running through at the far end.‭ ‬There were lots of columns‭ & ‬other formations scattered about.‭

Once they all moved in,‭ ‬six camouflaged troglodytes popped out with spears and attacked.‭ ‬A fish-man with a weird‭ ‬eclectic staff kinda climbed out of the pool and commanded them to bow to the majesty of Demogorgon and‭ "‬Auntie Olga Pigtooth.‭" ‬While the troglodytes attacked,‭ ‬he made impressive thunderclap sounds and his eyes glowed.‭

The fight didn't go well.‭ ‬Both Jinso and Sakura went down,‭ ‬and the other two were wounded.‭ ‬Vyph cast darkness and,‭ ‬while the troglodytes stumbled around and picked fights with each other,‭ ‬he and Anton dragged the others out and retreated as fast as they could.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Silence of the Gnolls

I  found some notes I wrote down for the Greyhawk campaign but never shared, so here's another couple of sessions. This one wraps up Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and moves on to some spinoff adventures I added. More next week.

Silence of the Gnolls

They went back to town,‭ ‬sold some stuff,‭ ‬stashed some money at the Temple of Bralm,‭ ‬and decided to lure the smugglers in and...‭ ‬whatever.‭ ‬Stop them or something.‭ ‬They used a magical disguise and a less magical one made by skinning one of the gnoll heads.‭ ‬They managed to get aboard the Sea Ghost without incident and see the captain.‭ ‬After taking out both the captain and his wizard buddy,‭ ‬they said they were taking over the ship and offered the‭ ‬#2‭ ‬spot to the former bosun.‭ ‬Everybody went along.

The Rainbow Bridge

The party wanted to investigate the place where Sanbalet had been meeting other weevils,‭ ‬so they sailed off in the Sea Ghost to Dunwater,‭ ‬another coastal town between Saltmarsh and the Javan River.‭ ‬Anton wasn't feeling well,‭ ‬so he stuck around in Saltmarsh.‭ ‬Tuckras worked on his sailing skills and got to know the pirates better.‭ ‬It wasn't a long trip.

The trading camp at the mouth of the Dunwater River had been ransacked.‭ ‬There were dead weevils,‭ ‬dead lizard men,‭ ‬dead humans,‭ ‬and debris.‭ ‬There were tracks heading off to the north,‭ ‬into to Hool Marshes.‭ ‬The road ran along a narrow causeway.‭ ‬Eventually they came to a bridge along over a gap in the causeway.‭ ‬Blocking the bridge in an arch shape,‭ ‬they found a transparent gelatinous creature which attacked‭ ‬them when they got close.‭ ‬During the fight,‭ ‬it managed to‭ "‬swallow‭" ‬Jinso,‭ ‬but he survived.‭

The trail ended at a small castle,‭ ‬more a guardhouse,‭ ‬really with a sludgy moat around it.‭ ‬The building was in ruins except for‭ ‬a fortified tower in the back.‭ ‬They poked around the courtyard,‭ ‬then decided to investigate a crumbly tower by the entrance before moving on to the solid building.‭ ‬The ruined tower was full of creepy shadows and whispering voices,‭ ‬and a spider-like creature that could teleport through the‭ ‬shadows.

The next room had a couple of carrion crawlers that attacked them from the walls and ceiling.‭ ‬Beyond,‭ ‬they found an ominous stairway.