Saturday, November 30, 2019

I Want Your Cray-Cray

Session 3-4 Recap (10/26/19 and 11/16/19)

Dazzler created a distracting lightshow while Jessica made an opening in the far wall, then picked up Alison and jumped to the next building. The two split up and made their way across town.

Jessica went to Trish's place while it was still dark, but Trish wasn't home. She did some research and tracked down the woman Barrigan had called. After conning her way to the executive floor with trendy coffee, she made her way to Danning's office and confronted her. Danning wouldn't talk and was confident that Jessica wouldn't dare try anything because she'd never get back out. Jessica grabbed her, smashed a window, and jumped out to land on an adjacent rooftop.

Dazzler, meanwhile, was busy tracking down Flame, convinced that, despite having put the last person who used that name in jail, somebody with an agenda was burning down all her venues. The search led her to Turk Barrett and some Italian guy named Tyrone at Josie's.

Despite some awkwardness about her reason for leaving Harlem's Paradise (one of these days I need to post my after-the-series background stuff), Jessica called Luke and asked for his help with her captive. Luke, pleased to hear from her, agreed to help out. On the way, Jessica found out from Sugar that Luke wasn't currently seeing ("having coffee with") anyone.

While Jessica was interrogating villains and getting laid, Dazzler was trying to keep Tyrone on the hook. At some point the two got back in contact. Morbius the Living Vampire showed up for no particular reason. He had psychic illusion powers to which Jessica was immune, but every attempt triggered a Kilgrave vision. Unfortunately for him, he didn't much like bright light and Dazzler had plenty of it. They dumped him in Luke's quiet room with Sheila Danning.

Danning, eager to not be locked in with a vampire, gave up the location of Flame's HQ. As Dazzler and Jessica had suspected, it was an organization, not an individual. This turned out to be in a trendy gym over P.F. Chang's close to Times Square. Dazzler picked out some workout clothes for her and Jessica, who wasn't thrilled at being dressed in pink and absolutely refused to wear the leg warmers.

At the gym, Jessica went about distracting the jocks. Dazzler went off and distracted the staff. Everyone was distracted, but nobody was doing anything. Eventually Dazzler did lead the manager away from her office, giving Jessica the chance to break in to the locked rooms behind it. There she found files detailing the buildings Flame had burned down and several sets of Flame gear. She took pictures and sent them to Costa so he could get a search warrant.

While they waited for the cops, Jess and Ali kept an eye on the building from outside to make sure none of their targets escaped. Jessica saw the manager climbing down the fire escape in a Flame suit and grabbed her in a leaping tackle. Though pinned, Flame was able to activate her gauntlets and burn Jessica's legs. Jessica, in pain and angry about the whole situation, hit her on the hip as hard as she could, breaking the bone. Flame passed out and Jessica turned her over to the police with a warning that she had fallen from the fire escape and broken her hip.

Dazzler went off for a hookup with Ward (once she got Danny to leave) while Jessica, hating herself for seriously injuring someone by letting her anger get the better of her, tossed back a few more drinks and headed over to Trish's place. She opened up to Trish about her frustrations and how Dazzler is "all rainbows and unicorns," and "she made me wear PINK!"

Then she grabbed Trish and kissed her and, one determination point later, Trish turned out to be up for that and credits.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Kiss Me, Fat Boy

I saw the first incarnation of It (and read the book) as a child. I didn't think I was a child at the time, but I was. I've just wrapped up the new version as an old person. I missed it (or should I say I missed It?) in the theater and had to wait for the digital release, so I made an event out of it. I waited for Tom to go to work, turned off all the lights, lit a couple of candles, and watched both chapters of the recent version back-to-back. I didn't go so far as to re-watch the old one because, for one thing, that's a lot'o watching, and for another, I've seen that one so many times that I could probably recite the lines with the sound off.

One thing I noticed just now while browsing for pictures: The menace of Tim Curry's Pennywise came almost entirely from his voice. Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise is both visually and vocally terrifying. I think a lot of this is down to budget, makeup choices, and special effects, though. I don't want to do too much of that kind of comparison. Okay, okay -- one more: nobody will ever say "kiss me, fat boy" with as much verve as Curry.

What really made me want to share my rambling thoughts on these movies was a new theme, or an old one I never noticed. The ending in the book and the first adaptation kind of mixed it up, so maybe King never intended it, but it's clear in the new version. I can't remember if the bit about Bill's books never having good endings was in the novel. If not, I think this is why it's in the movie.

Anyway, what I'm seeing here is a story about people reclaiming their identities. I'm not talking about identity as in some kind of racial or cultural bullshit. I mean it in the sense of who they really are. Over time, as we all do, they had lost themselves in faded memories. Even though the effects of that past remained, they could no longer see the source. If you don't know where your wounds came from, you can't learn from them. You can't grow beyond them. This really stands out with Bev, who, escaping an abusive father, hooked up with an abusive husband, and Eddie, who threw off his dependence on his mother's placebo medicine as a child, only to get sucked right back into it as an adult.

Chapter Two spent a lot of time making the heroes recover memories of a time that was cleverly slipped past us in Chapter One. It even went so far as to materialize their past selves as "tokens." And of course the tokens themselves, in the end, had no power over the monster at all. It was having found them, or what they represented, that made them strong. Once they found themselves, they could grow. The more they grew, the smaller their fears and self-destructive impulses became. They were able to get to the heart of their collective Shadow. They didn't simply destroy it, though. Destroying it would be denying that it, too, is part of them, so they tore it up and ate it. Together.

(Pardon the heart pun. I just had to.)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Scylla and Charybdis

The Defenders campaign is still a delight. When we started this, I was worried about a couple of possibilities (I mean, apart from the usual things GMs worry about) because it was a campaign based on a TV show.

One was that the players would ignore the established details of the characters they were playing and just sort of make it a generic super-hero game.

The other was that they'd go to the opposite extreme and slavishly limit themselves to the actions they'd seen, never expanding on their characters, making the resulting story little more than an endless rerun, no matter what scenarios I threw at them.

I've been lucky to get players who haven't fallen into either pit. What I'm seeing (and yeah, often enough I do feel like a spectator instead of a narrator) is a group of characters that are clearly rooted in the established history, but are evolving in creative ways as they go, coming to life in ways I could never have predicted.

Monday, November 11, 2019


I've heard people talk about Death stalking us, and that has a ring of truth to it, but it's not that simple. The stalking metaphor suggests that Death hunts us, tracks us, like it doesn't know where we are. I don't think that's true. Death doesn't stalk and pounce on us. Death herds us. Death harvests us. That's why it's drawn with a scythe instead of a bow. No turn we take is a mystery to Death, because, whether we see it or not, it left us no other path.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Many Colors

I've been reading the Intervention and Milieu series by Julian May. Recently, it's been slowed down a lot because I hurt my foot and have had to drive more often and take the bus less. On my recent trip, I listened to the audiobook version of The Many-Colored Land. Well, the first part anyway. It wasn't that long a trip. As far as I know, this is the only one of her books that's been audiofied. I hope there are more.

Anyway, what struck me is that, while the books I've been reading are interesting, the characters are nowhere near as engaging as the ones in the Pliocene Exile. Apart from my spirit animal, Uncle Rogi, the characters in the Milieu books are almost all super-talented overachievers. Nobody has the dangerous charm of Aiken or the goofy wildness of Stein or the redemptive arc of Richard or the just plain awesome broken awesomeness of Felice. The relationships feel more political than affectionate.

I mean, sure, Marc is interesting because he's going to be the badass rebel of rebels, and Jon is interesting because he's basically a new life form, and the others are all neat people, but nobody in the Milieu books so far feels as brilliantly larger-than life as Group Green in The Many-Colored Land.
Anyway, I'm not dissing the other stuff. I'm just freshly amazed at the awesomeness of the Pliocene series.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Kickin' it Elderly School

Tom brought back Elder Tunnels for Halloween this year and I wrote the intro, so I thought it would be fun to post it here too. I mean, nobody's buying this because they gotta get my silly introduction, so I'm pretty confident that I'm not costing Peryton any sales.

Introduction to Halloween 2019 Elder Tunnels follows the break:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Defenders Session 2

We had a bit of player-shuffling from last time. Danny and Jessica's players dropped out because they were just in it to help me test the convention version. (One of them hates Marvel. The other one has a thing about only playing "original" characters and maybe some Scrap Pile related hangups.) Trish's player switched to Jessica. Dazzler is still Dazzler.

This session officially makes it a campaign instead of a one-off, and I'm loving it. I'm getting that same buzz that I used to get with the old campaign. I've only got two players, but they've turned Ali & Jess into the coolest buddy cop duo ever, so it's working. If there are more players later, that's great, but it's totally not necessary. 

Session 2 Recap (10/12/19)

A few weeks passed. Cross's lawyers got him and Croit out of jail, "pending further investigation" Superhuman incidents were becoming more frequent. During a break in Dazzler's gig, she and Jessica saw a news story pop up about another one, a gray-skinned man named Bruce Landers who was taken down by "heroes" armed with CTE's new anti-superhuman stun guns.

Meanwhile, a fan approached Alison with flowers and then tried to shoot her. Jessica threw a chair at the guy, lifted him up by his belt, and asked him what he was doing. After a little friendly persuasion, he revealed that Bo Barrigan (the mobster from last session) had put a price on Dazzler's head. Jessica kept his belt. Also, there was a fire.

Wondering if there could be a link between the attack, the wave of berserk superhumans, and Cross's "undertaker" machine, the two decided to check out the scene of one of the recent incidents. At a nearby park, they poked around in the dark and, at first, didn't find much. Jessica suggested a new use for Dazzler's ability to absorb sound and she tried it. Absorbing all the sound she could and doing her best to tune into the flavor of it, she was able to trace the effects of a low-frequency sound pulse to a nearby mailbox.

Jessica tore open the mailbox, only to find that the device they were looking for was actually taped to the bottom. It was a metal box, held closed by screws. Jessica gathered up the letters and took them to another mailbox while they considered whom they might know who could help with tech stuff.

As three o'clock closed in, they decided to call Danny Rand. Danny was groggy, but willing to help out, so they brought it to his apartment on Fifth Avenue, where they also found a slightly put-out Colleen Wing. Apparently they were getting back together, but she still lived in Chinatown and was just here for tonight. Danny couldn't reach any nocturnal scientists, so Ali and Jess slept in the living room so they could hand the gadget over in the morning.

In the morning, Danny called Ward for help finding the right department. He came by to take them there and flirted with Alison a bit. Jessica left on a personal errand while Ward and Alison went to the lab. While the scientists did their science stuff, Alison visited her manager to discuss her uber expenses and Jessica's bar tab.

Jessica, meanwhile, took a cab to Jersey City, where Trish had been hiding out since the night she escaped Croit's lab. Trish was a little on edge from the whole fugitive thing and did not at first realize that Jessica just wanted to spend time with her sister and make sure she was okay. Eventually they hugged it out and talked for a while.
The lab discovered that, as expected, the box contained a sonic aggression booster. It also had a simple radio-controlled on/off switch. Shelving that for the moment, the two followed up on Alison's suspicion that the mercenary, Flame, was involved with last night's chaos, but he was still in jail.

Dazzler's next gig was a few nights later at The Glass Door, an industrial bar on 37th street, across from Fogwell's Gym. It was a rough neighborhood and not a great bar, but she still had a reasonable crowd. While Dazzler played her first set, Jessica began to notice that everyone was being really obnoxious. The bourbon tasted like it had been watered down, the stools were uncomfortable, and something smelled bad. She was just about to punch some guy's head off for spilling a drink on her when she realized what was happening.

Alison also caught on, and immediately started absorbing all the sound in the bar except the music, also broadcasting calming light patterns. With the device still active, it was much easier to locate, even though it gave her a headache. She pointed Jessica to its location and Jessica destroyed it. Then they noticed that the building was on fire.

While they were helping people get clear of the building, someone tried to taze Jessica. She pulled up a parking meter and threw it at him, instantly knocking him to the pavement and unconsciousness. They found out that people were getting these stun guns from a guy named Tommy Forkbeard (a Barrigan flunky) at a honkytonk bar in Red Hook. Alison confronted Forkbeard (who did, in fact, have a long, forked beard) while Jessica came in through the back. After another brawl, they found out that Forkbeard didn't know much beyond Barrigan's location in another part of Brooklyn.
They knocked out Barrigan's guards and strong-armed him into talking. He got his supplies from someone named Sheila, who he only knew as a voice on the phone. They got him to call and set up a delivery, but he could only leave a message on her machine because it was the middle of the night.

Shortly after, sirens blared, blue and red lights flashed on the windows, and a voice over a loudspeaker demanded that they come out with their hands on their heads.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Defenders: Project Undertaker

Session 1 Recap (9/21/19)

Alison Blaire (Dazzler), worried about her safety after having tangled with a local mobster, hired Jessica Jones to protect her at her performance for retro night at The Plank, a run-down club on the 41st street pier. Danny Rand (Iron Fist) had been tracking a red motorcycle which had been seen at several arsons across the area. He found it outside an old warehouse next to The Plank. Ali's set and Danny's surveillance were interrupted by a thunderous explosion which shook the building.

Jessica ran out to see what was going on while Ali made sure the audience and staff got out of the building safely. Danny saw a man in a sci-fi looking costume with tubes and stuff (Flame) running out of the now-burning building towards the cycle and shot it, blowing it to pieces. Jessica, looking from a higher vantage point, also saw four people running off in the other direction. While Danny fought Flame, Jessica ran into the building to see what was going on. She found Trish Walker fighting with some sort of mutated human. Putting aside her surprise for the moment, Jessica took hold of the man and led both of them out of the building.

The man said his name was Marcus Daniels and he had been abducted by a Doctor Abner Croit and experimented on with genetic material taken from enhanced humans. Trish revealed that the same people had a deal with private security contractors at The Raft to experiment on powered prisoners. As part of this deal, she and others had been taken off-site to locations like this. Jessica agreed that, at least for now, she couldn't send Trish back to that.

While everyone was comparing notes, the police arrived. Trish slipped away before they saw her and watched from the shadows. A bunch of uniforms showed up, along with Detective Costa. Some of the uniforms had funky taser-looking devices. One of them muttered, "We don't have to be afraid of your kind anymore," to Jessica. The police arrested Daniels and "Flame" and asked the others to come in for a statement. From her outside vantage point, Trish noticed that a sphere around one car (the one Daniels was in) was getting darker.

Jessica managed to hang back and talk to Trish. While the cops pulled away, they saw the car with Daniels in it rust to pieces. Daniels got clear and looked like he was about to attack them, then screamed and shriveled into a mummified husk.

After the police interviews, they did some detective work separately and then got together to investigate Doctor Croit, They went to his apartment in the Chelsea, where Jessica figured out his password (SelfishGene) by looking through his book collection. She found some information about his employers, Cross Technological Enterprises, ("Where tomorrow begins today") and several emails from the Director of Environmental Compliance, William Cross, that just said things like, "see me" or "we need to talk now." Danny found a key with a handwritten tag that said, "Rudy's." On the way out, they spotted some cops watching the area, so Trish slipped away and stayed in hiding for the rest of the night.

At Rudy's they had a few drinks, ate some free hot dogs, and tried every door in or next to the bar, but the key didn't fit anything. Eventually, they noticed the old building across the street with the art deco entrance and the top three stories that looked abandoned. The key fit there. As they were entering, a Jessica was shot from behind. She told the others to go on while she dealt with the sniper.

Jessica spotted him withdrawing from edge of a building across the street and leaped to tackle him. She noticed once she got close that nothing near him made any sound. After a couple of acrobatic throws and some of punches, Jessica took The Silencer down.

Meanwhile, Danny and Alison proceeded into the art deco building. They pressed five in the elevator and, near the top, started feeling a little dizzy. When the door opened, a man wearing a skull mask said, "Senior Muerte welcomes you to your doom!" Their last thought before passing out was that "Senior Muerte" was a terrible name.

They woke up in a concrete cell. Danny's guns and Alison's radio were missing. A monitor screen lit up, showing Senior Muerte, a man in a business suit, and four armed guards. The suit identified himself as William Cross and bragged that he had taken Alison's "light show device," along with the guns, so she was powerless. He also said they were about to be the final test of Project Undertaker.

He checked a comm screen and turned to Muerte. "Montoya, the other one is here. Get down there and take care of her." Cross flipped some switches on a panel and a low rumble spread through the room, buzzing in their skulls. Danny and Alison began to feel inexplicably angry at each other.

Jessica, arriving in the lobby and noticing that one elevator was on the fifth floor, hit the call button, then opened another one across the hall pushed the five button, and stepped out before the doors closed.

Meanwhile, Alison, recognizing that Cross was using a sonic weapon on them, started absorbing the sound, negating its effect. She used the energy to laser through the door and escaped with Danny. They followed a tunnel to a stairway and found themselves backstage in an abandoned theater. They found Danny's guns and Alison's radio in the work room. After wandering around a bit more, they got to the stage, where there was a bunch of equipment set up. Cross and some guards were there. Alison dazzled the lot of them, but Cross activated something on his chest and suddenly revived, eyes glowing. He picked up one of the obviously heavy machines and threw it. They dodged, and Danny used the Iron Fist to wreck Cross. Then they tricked Muerte into returning and ambushed him.

They took the villains to the police and had a nightcap at Rudy's.

Monday, September 16, 2019


"Painted crabs! My master must feed!"

I hate it, but on some level I also admire the balls it takes for Microsoft to send me an annoying notification telling me that it won't be sending me annoying notifications for a little while.

I might have gone a little overboard with the "MyPetIn5Words" tweets.

"Writer Tom Taylor... teases that not everyone will survive issue No. 1."
It's that Zorro-lookin' guy who bites it, right? He has "throwaway" written all over him. Gotta be the Zorro guy.

Irish whiskey is what scotch would taste like if it didn't hate you.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


I dreamed I was in Hell. It started when I was just in a restaurant with my family. Two of the three people with me are dead in the real world. I was with my mom, my dad, and my brother. We were eating out. I was looking forward to it. They had some kind of chicken sandwich thing that I liked, and of course I love my family.

Thing is, I couldn't find the thing I wanted on the menu. I kept looking, and the waitress kept coming back. I knew it was there, but I couldn't make out the details. I couldn't read it. People started getting pissed off at me. Somehow, I ended up sitting on the floor, and I still couldn't get my order in. Everybody was mad at me, and finally I got mad at them, too. Eventually, I said I was going to the fast food place next door. Nobody cared.

I couldn't read the menu at the fast food place either, but the guy at the counter suggested something and I said that sounded great. Time passed, people got their orders, and I got nothing.

I'm not sure when, but I found myself in front of a different counter. I was told to hit a flappy thing to determine my punishment. I was confused by that, but I tried anyway. I missed completely. I was in a place with lots of white and silver, but that wasn't comforting. People were bustling around. No one was happy. They laughed at my failure and handed me a brochure. I could tell that it involved dental aberrations or… I'm not sure. Something about serial killers. Something about brain cancer.

What was clear was that I had a choice, and, looking at the brochure, I COULDN'T FUCKING UNDERSTAND IT. Again. I knew my options were all horrible. I also knew that even choosing the least horrible of the horrible options was beyond my power. I thought about killing myself, but, of course, I was in Hell. You can't escape that way when you're in Hell.

I woke up. I was glad it was just a dream, but

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Go Asterisk Yourself

When you're about to write a word but you think it's objectionable and needs an asterisk or a dash in place of one of the letters, how about picking another word? If you don't have the guts to say "fuck," instead of "f*ck," you should just shut the fuck up.

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:

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, and Dazzler.

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
Event 111, Oscar Wilde Ballroom, OW14
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.