What happened before

The team is shipped off to the Yukon for the notional purpose of helping Gabe and Lorenzo get their cold-weather survival merit badges for scouting. We are provided with a ridiculous amount of high-end gear by Myriam, who owns the orphanage where we stay. We fly out there into record-cold temperatures. We head to a staging cabin, and then take some time to get to know both the town and the local environments. Some go hunting, some go towning, and overall we get ready for our adventure.

When the time comes, we snowmobile deep into the wilderness . . . and the campsite that feels the best to us is up into the mountains a bit. We look around, and find a ridiculously well-prepared campsite, with a basement, stacks of well-preserved wood, and evidence it’s been there for going on 30 years.

Some things were meant to be. Kamali even has a spirt-vision of, well, something important. His convulsions knock away some debris, and leave marks and writing made by our ancestors, who have carved their names into the basement wall, no less.We are led to finish construction of the house, our combination of Fortress of Solitude and Batcave. Kamali is project manager, Gabe is lead carpenter (diligence and carpentry skill as well), and everyone pitches in. We are very efficient . . . and we pick up there.

Dramatis Personae

Kamali Blackshear (14): Kamali is a young boy in his early teens. He is healthy and is of mixed ethnicity of Caucasian South African and native South African. He is a determined youth who believes in a justice of his own, likening himself to the knight of the round whom he has read deeply into. Just asthey stood against the darkness of their age so too does Kamali seek to do the same. For his sister, for his friends, and for the world.

Tag: “A knight without a sword carrying a faith nobody believes.”

Lorenzo DeModouco (15): A handsome and charismatic musician. The loss of his parents didn’t dampen his spirits and he soldiered on after their death. He’s the cheery one always trying to make others happy and sometimes spontaneously breaks into song. Perceptive of others and their feelings, Lorenzo is the one who knows what people are thinking by the looks on their face. He’s also a boy scout and is quite comfortable in the wild.

TAG: “He’s a Jukebox Hero. He’s got stars in his eyes. A Jukebox Hero – he’ll make sure you survive.”

Amos M. Humiston (15) – A comfortable existence turned upside down, he’s still shell-shocked from what happened to his parents and has switched from a small and chatty boy to a small and quiet boy. Amos tends to quietly slip along after the group leaving a trail of books read behind him. And though he doesn’t volunteer himself quite yet, he’s always happy to help the best he can without showing off his intelligence, though that doesn’t stop him from being happy to do so when it’s possible.

Gabriel MacAlister (14) – Built like the natural athlete he is, he shows signs of growing even larger and stronger. A fairly quiet and hard working lad, always ready to lend a hand with any work, which he will do without complaint or obligating the other person to respond. Emphatically not a pushover or weak personality, but also not one to purposefully show off. Has been in many horrible places and seen many horrible things; he’s a bit of a compulsive planner as a result, as well as always feeling that most folks don’t really know how lucky they are.

Tag: “To serve others is the highest calling; to protect the meek the noblest endeavor.”

Timothy I Mitchell (16): Timothy possess an honest if forgettable face. He tends towards comfortable, though inexpensive clothing and durable running shoes, rounding off his typical attire is a deep pocketed jacket and a backpack slung over one shoulder. Timothy appears to be a poster-boy for bad kids, often finding himself in trouble with any and all forms of authority. A victim of neglect, driven to never become a victim again he often acts seemingly on impulse, taking any dare or challenge in his stride. Timothy doesn’t have friends, not in any real sense. Too few of the people who enter his orbit can deal with him in anything more than bite sized pieces, a fact which only further frustrates the young teenager.

Tag: “Darkness is within all of us, it’s how you use that darkness that matters”

Episode Title

8pm. The Lodge.
Astronomical Twilight was about 6:40pm that day.

Kamali is having a seizure and vision. Everything is green, so it’s summer, and a giant swarm of black flies haunts the area. We hear the sound of the river in the background. Kamali realizes he’s in the basement, while it’s being built. Our ancestors seem to have been there, building, at least in the vision. There’s a black-haired man there, looking a timeless 20 or 30 years old, with nearly inhumanly blue eyes – movie star eye. He’s talking to Kamali’s mother – who is much, much younger. She’s dressed almost in leather armor, with a sword strapped to her back. It’s not one of the swords from the basement (the cavalry sabre). She’s have an intense discussion or argument with the blue-eyed man. It’s hard to make out, but the thing that sticks out is the exchange where she says “How could you possibly know this?” and the blue-eyed man says “because I’ve seen it.”
Continue reading “The Chronicles of Ceteri: Ep4 – The Lodge”

Dungeon Grappling is part of the DriveThruRPG OSR sale. I have also lowered the price of the print product on my own website.

From now until June 11, you can get Dungeon Grappling at a lower price:

  • The PDF has been reduced to $8.00
  • The Print Book has been reduced to $16.00
  • The Dungeon Bundle has been reduced to $21.00

Dungeon Grappling has been fairly heavily praised for making grappling, and grappling monsters, no longer suck. Show your players the real meaning of gripping terror with Dungeon Grappling.

Made a bunch of progress on the viking shield.

I thinned down the entire thing – it was far, far too much work with a router, but all the drawknives I have access to are flat rather than curved, and I’d need one with some curve to it in order to shave off of a flat piece. I’ll need some specialized carving tools if I’m going to do this by hand in the future. Also, start with 3/8″ basswood sheets, which are less expensive: a shield for me would be $57 in materials for this one, rather than the $73 with the half-inch stock. And much, much less to remove – taper from full-thickness in the middle by 1/8″ to the edge ought to do it.

I did make a fairly collossal mistake, though – a “measure twice, cut once” fail. I used my string-radius technique to mark the hole in the shield but really should have measured the absolute radius with a tape measure. As it is, the shield boss I have is a bit too small for the hole. Arthur tells me it should be possible to flatten the boss and widen the flange a bit, both, of which will get me the extra maybe spread I need. I can also look around for wider bosses. The ideal hole would have been 6″ in diameter; I got 7.25″, so I need to spread the thing by quite a bit.

Still: rookie mistake. Continue reading “Viking Shield, part 2”

Thursday is GURPSDay, and may Thor make your games a bit more exiting today!

Welcome to the second year of GURPSDay, and here’s the pull for this week.

We’re currently drawing content from 86 blogs. Only 14 more to go until we’re pulling from 100! But we’ll need your help.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all 48 posts as of 8pmCST.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary May 19 – May 25, 2017”

That’s a “How to Train Your Dragon 2” reference. It’s also tongue in cheek.

Still, I joke because Marty Walser over at Raging Owlbear wrote a really neat post where I kept wanting to say something, but then he went on and said it for me in his next paragraph. Here’s his post.

GM 101: Does Story trump Rules?

Whenever I see this kind of thing, I’m reminded of a line from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show, which also appears as (I think) a chapter title in the RPG:

Anya: I think this is going to be a very big year for vengeance.
Xander: But isn’t vengeance kind of vengeful?
Anya: You don’t want me to have a hobby.
Xander: Not a vengeance hobby, no. It’s dangerous. People can’t do anything they want. Society has rules and borders and an end zone.

The money quote is the last line, of course. In The Belgariad, by David Eddings, there’s also a line where Belgarath the Sorcerer tells Garion that the reason there is prophecy, and why it’s written down, is that the word shapes the event, limits and contains it. Continue reading “Story and Rules, Enemies again!”

What happened before

The group was moved into a new orphanage after the deaths of all their parents by the same serial killer. We get to know each other, and both friendships and rivalries are formed. We meet Myriam, the proprietor of the place, who always carries a knife and resembled Sigourney Weaver, with facial scarring. We settle in, and eventually are led to go to a house, and encountered a horrible spirit – a soul-eating fae that preys on children. We defeat it in decisive battle, helped by no small amount of luck. We confess all to Myriam at the end, who turns out to be a bad-ass monster hunter type. She starts us in a brutal and effective training regime, which lasts for two years . . .

Dramatis Personae

Kamali Blackshear (14): Kamali is a young boy in his early teens. He is healthy and is of mixed ethnicity of Caucasian South African and native South African. He is a determined youth who believes in a justice of his own, likening himself to the knight of the round whom he has read deeply into. Just asthey stood against the darkness of their age so too does Kamali seek to do the same. For his sister, for his friends, and for the world.

Tag: “A knight without a sword carrying a faith nobody believes.”

Lorenzo DeModouco (15): A handsome and charismatic musician. The loss of his parents didn’t dampen his spirits and he soldiered on after their death. He’s the cheery one always trying to make others happy and sometimes spontaneously breaks into song. Perceptive of others and their feelings, Lorenzo is the one who knows what people are thinking by the looks on their face. He’s also a boy scout and is quite comfortable in the wild.

TAG: “He’s a Jukebox Hero. He’s got stars in his eyes. A Jukebox Hero – he’ll make sure you survive.”

Amos M. Humiston (15) – A comfortable existence turned upside down, he’s still shell-shocked from what happened to his parents and has switched from a small and chatty boy to a small and quiet boy. Amos tends to quietly slip along after the group leaving a trail of books read behind him. And though he doesn’t volunteer himself quite yet, he’s always happy to help the best he can without showing off his intelligence, though that doesn’t stop him from being happy to do so when it’s possible.

Gabriel MacAlister (14) – Built like the natural athlete he is, he shows signs of growing even larger and stronger. A fairly quiet and hard working lad, always ready to lend a hand with any work, which he will do without complaint or obligating the other person to respond. Emphatically not a pushover or weak personality, but also not one to purposefully show off. Has been in many horrible places and seen many horrible things; he’s a bit of a compulsive planner as a result, as well as always feeling that most folks don’t really know how lucky they are.

Tag: “To serve others is the highest calling; to protect the meek the noblest endeavor.”

Timothy I Mitchell (16): Timothy possess an honest if forgettable face. He tends towards comfortable, though inexpensive clothing and durable running shoes, rounding off his typical attire is a deep pocketed jacket and a backpack slung over one shoulder. Timothy appears to be a poster-boy for bad kids, often finding himself in trouble with any and all forms of authority. A victim of neglect, driven to never become a victim again he often acts seemingly on impulse, taking any dare or challenge in his stride. Timothy doesn’t have friends, not in any real sense. Too few of the people who enter his orbit can deal with him in anything more than bite sized pieces, a fact which only further frustrates the young teenager.

Tag: “Darkness is within all of us, it’s how you use that darkness that matters”

Yukon Take it With You

  • Home
  • Wednesday, December 6th, 1995, 1:00 pm
  • 7 Louders Lane, Jamaica Plain Boston, MA 02130-43422

Two years have passed. We’ve grown larger, more studious in the interim, and all of us have become remarkable people. Except Lorenzo, who hasn’t given me his description and so is a blank slate. We are told we’re all going to go to support Lorenzo as he gets his Extreme Conditions merit badge. Those that don’t have backpacks (like Gabe) are given one, and we settle in to what must be fifteen pounds of roast beef.

We pack our stuff, including a fairly impressive array of weaponry for a bunch of teenagers. No one seems to notice or comment on Gabe’s white-hilted sword.

We travel for more than 30 hours, via plane, small plane, smaller plane, and various other conveyances. Alex Lawton is one of the scouts, and his uncle, Robert Lawton, is flying the plane and supervising the trip. Carl Stanford is another scout seeking his badge. That makes the PCs, Alex, Carl, and Robert. Alex and Robert are obviously native american; Alex might also be part Korean. Carl is a happy-go-lucky, annoyingly cheerful boy out on his first big adventure.

We call him RedShirt, instantly.

When we land in the Yukon, it’s the coldest day on record; -53 degrees (-47C). Between our arctic clothing and good HT, we’re good, but still: damn.

Continue reading “The Chronicles of Ceteri (B-Team): Yukon Take It With You”

Naturally, as soon as I put up my review of the UA for Fighters, a helpful soul pointed out that Arcane Archer had already been revisited in a separate Unearthed Arcana.

Let’s take a quick scan. Recall that some of my observations (yeah, complaints, maybe) were that some of the options were devastating, almost “I win” buttons. Others were that the “curtains didn’t match the drapes” where some of the fluff and mechanics were concerned.

Arcane Archer Redux

So, the fluff text about the ancient elven method is still there. You know, not everything archery and magical has to come from elves. I don’t know why this is bugging me more and more recently. Guess it’s a bit of Peter Jackson’s “Just Damned Better than You” syndrome.

So, first thing, they’ve put in a table of abilities, listing the 3, 3, 7, 10, 15, 18 progression a bit. There’s still no explicit 10th level boost, other than yet one more choice for Arcane shot. Pity. That was a notable gap, and some of the arcane shots are powerful enough that a two-tiered structure of shots or shot capabilities would have been conceivable.

You still get all three abilities that were there in the old version at 3rd level: magic arrow, arcane shot (pick two options), and archer’s lore. Continue reading “Arcane Archer Revisited”

I love fighters. Paladins too, but I love fighters. Even when magic and other superpowers are available, I tend to play characters whose main mode of interaction with bad guys is to beat the bejeezus out of them. Partly this is a quirk of mine: when it comes time to sit down and game, I’m usually looking for  a way to unwind, and delving into “what spells or powers do I have now?” isn’t as fun for me as clever ways to do more direct action. When I played “Commander Samurai,” who usually just went by the title “The Commander,” in the GURPS Aeon Campaign, I mostly played him as Batman – ghosting into the situation with a ridiculously high Stealth skill, attacking with fists, guns, or telekinetically-enhanced versions of both, and then vanishing again. He had other powers; we eventually rewrote him because I didn’t use them.

Anyway: to return. I loves me some fighters. When I reposted my take on the Samurai from a year or two ago, a helpful poster aimed me at an Unearthed Arcana dedicated to the topic, specifically the samurai. I read through it, and had thoughts.

Fighter Archetypes

In 5e, what you’re really adding isn’t different character classes in most cases (this is good), but instead adding Fighter Archetypes – which basically means you’re adding thematically unified sets of powers that show up (for the fighter) at different levels. For fighter, you get Martial Archetype boosts at 3rd level (on selection), and then 7th, 10th, 15th, and 18th.

The 3rd level abilities usually define the archetype. The rest are power-ups.

The four new archetypes presented are the Arcane Archer, the Knight, the Samurai, and the Sharpshooter. Continue reading “Review – Unearthed Arcana: Fighter”

I’ll be at GenCon this year, which means all of Gaming Ballistic, LLC will be in attendance. That second one sounds much more impressive.

My fate was sealed when I pledged to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter, and opted into the Saturday 1-5pm session with Sean Punch. Doubly sealed when I decided I’d try and go there under the auspices of the Indie Game Design Network, as both an exhibitor and table fiend.

But . . . that meant I could take the time to do a bit of hands-on demonstration, too.

Grappling Smackdown

From 10am to noon on both Friday and Saturday, I’ll be running a two-hour one-shot session designed to show off how Dungeon Grappling plays at the table.

Right now, each game will be using Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition rules. It isn’t PvP – it will be a normal romp through a limited dungeon, but designed to highlight the grappling rules as modified by Dungeon Grappling.

What does that mean?

It means that a gaggle of kobolds might score enough control points to worry a high level fighter. It means a web spell does control damage. And it means that a Barbarian or Monk got real interesting when optimized around the wrestling skills.

Grappling is Combat

Grappling never really gets the credit it should, because folks usually insist on invoking complicated or non-optimal subsystems to resolve it. Dungeon Grappling is both new and old, in a way that will become instantly apparent when you play.

Come find out what a smooth grappling system can do for a game. Sign up as follows:

Friday 10am to noon

Saturday 10am to noon

I’m a member of the Indie Game Developer Network. So when a member wrote that his Kickstarter was mid-swing, and a surfeit of real-life obligations prevented him from doing marketing for great justice (nod to Zero Wing). I offered to take a look at his product and review it.

The Book of Nouns

Well, yeah. The book contains about 80 different write-ups, categorized as landscapes; cities, towns, and buildings; events; people. There are twenty of each. There’s typically a full-color photograph of the thing in question, and a few pages of writeup, in 6×9 format. Every entry ends with some thoughts on how to use the idea in play.

It’s a straight-forward concept, and one might wonder if it’s needed in the age of Google? I’ll throw down an answer, which is that the world and it’s history is a vast and unruly place, and in order to search for something, you need to know it exists, or be very clever in your search terms.

This book takes some places you might or might not have heard of, people who have done great things (“terrible . . . but great,” to borrow a phrase, in some cases), cities and other events that make a place noteworthy, and then served ’em up to you as a jumping-off point for ideas.

Examples

I won’t spoil it, of course. But there are some very interesting entries in there.

Son Doong Cave

Oh, megadungeons. Not real. Too fake. Too contrived. Could never exist.

Hah. Then you’re not aware of Son Doong Cave – which I was not. Five and a half miles of caves (that’s 2,900 10′ map squares, or if you do four squares to the inch for your graph paper, you’re talking something like a map that’s sixty feet long). And that’s just the linear dimention. Some of the caves are 600′ wide and (more impressively, perhaps) 450′ tall, which is enough to easily support some pretty horrifying avian threats. Like dinosaurs. Just sayin’.

Tell me you can’t see great encounters happening in here? Continue reading “Review: Archive – Historical People, Places, and Events for RPGs”