Previously, in Trip's Life...
31 August 2017 - Thursday
Today I implemented some organization at work. Yay?
Still not sure what to do with the Warlock's style of magic, but in the
meantime, what about those non-caster playbooks? I had been thinking of
giving them Secret Techniques of Elite Murderism at higher levels, but
casters get to do freaky magic stuff from the beginning, so
fighter/ranger/thief should get to do at least some of whatever it is they
do from level 1.
But what do they do, and what's the fictional positioning for it? The
stock Fighter has a signature weapon, but it doesn't seem like that weapon
has a lot of mechanical impact; you can hack and slash or
stand in defense with a regular weapon just fine. I'm
tempted to make the Fighter's damage die d8 except when they're wielding
their signature weapon, and maybe add some options for nonmundane things
they can do with their weapon (like the advanced move where they can
consult the spirits in their weapon, but possibly as starting moves,
replacing bend bars, lift gates).
Post-mortem of last night's game shows that class design
needs to be done carefully to promote the subgenre (including power level)
that you actually want, so changing classes is probably beyond me, never
mind making new ones, but it's not like this project was ever not stupid
Make a comment!
30 August 2017 - Wednesday
The bus leaving work was late, so I just missed the connection. But that's
okay, I can walk for half an hour and catch that bus further down the line!
Except it's only about 20 minutes walk to where the wasteland of expressway
with no bus stops starts. Bah!
Yep, I still suck at running Dungeon
World! I have read how to make a monster
scarier than its hit points, but I clearly needed to brush up, and also
find some spine somewhere. I am too soft, and not willing to say, "Nope,
can't do that", or have damage actually rip character's limbs off. I can't
even manage to just make moves assertively (which, yes, means I can't
actually do horror DW). I need to use the "when everyone looks to you to
see what happens" clause a lot more. Or get wimpier players.
Anyway, that was considered a conclusion, so next week is
13th Age for
Make a comment!
29 August 2017 - Tuesday
Tomorrow will be awful, because I suck. But tonight, Avalon! (Twice in one
Make a comment!
28 August 2017 - Monday
Because I am not too bright about looking at my calendar, I ended up
walking from work to the grocery store and back three times, but it all
worked out and I did not miss the party for Coworker J2
and his lovely fianceé who are getting married soon.
When we stopped playing Dungeon
World a few weeks ago, I just threw in some stuff because I didn't
think I'd ever have to follow up on it. Now people are wanting to play more
DW instead of 13th
Age! Ack! I must think about this game instead of the purely
Okay, a couple more thoughts about WFDW. But only short ones.
What kind of creatures are warlock patrons? In D&D4
the options are fey, demon, or tentacles from beyond the stars. I don't see
TTSNB as sufficiently human-like to make contracts with humans, they aren't
echoes of humanity like faeries or demons. I am pleased with the "I don't
have a contract with any 'Great Old One', I just follow the math where it
leads" that I invented for my GOO warlock in 5E, but I think that's a
different class than the Warlock who has an explicit contract. Maybe closer
to the Wizard, or maybe something else entirely. (I do actually like 4E's
connection between stars and Things That Should Not Be, and will totally
rip it off, but not right now.)
What else? I was thinking angels, but they'd have to be mad fallen deviant
renegade angels, which is pretty much the same as demons, right? Nature
spirits that are human enough to make contracts probably count as
faeries... No, I am thinking wrongfully! The Warlock gets a list of half
a dozen specific patrons, just like the Hierphant gets half a dozen
specific gods, not categories.
I sort of want "The Sole and Rightful Queen of the Fairies, Titania",
and "The Sole and Rightful Queen of the Fairies, Mab" to both be on the
list, but then I'd have to distinguish them from each other as well as from all
the other possible patrons, probably by spell choice.
Speaking of Warlock spells, I think my earlier idea of making them summoners
is bad. Monsters are supposed to be mysterious and unnatural, and if the Warlock
can call up fairies or demons to have a conversation with at any time, that's
not going to work out. (Every GM who would totally play a summoned fairy as a
working-class joe, raise a tentacle. No fibbing.) So how do warlocks channel
patron power, and what do they do with it? How is this different than what
wizards do, in play?
Make a comment!
27 August 2017 - Sunday
Apparently this entire subplot was invented by Jeremy, so I don't need to
When Mika fails to return from the dragon's cave, and it's getting on toward
dusk so she should be able to teleport away if she's not in trouble, the other
Heroines decide they have to go in after her. Naturally, they send the other
ninja to get picked off, but when she returns with a report, they all go in
the front door together. ("Order of the Gauntlet!")
Inside, there are spotlights from the ceiling to keep Mika from teleporting
out of the tentacles grabbing her. The snivelly eyeball-face monsters creating
the light don't stand up to the righteous wrath of the Heroines, and soon Mika
is free, but then the creepy elf-thing that lead them to the lair appears out
of the mounds of fungal slime and turns Lam into a garter snake.
The elf pops in and out, polymorphing Akrá into an iguana, dragging
people into the muck to be dismembered, throwing lighting bolts whenever three
points form a line, and generally being so annoying that it seems there must be
at least three of her. In fact, there are! Nevertheless, the Heroines smite the
hags with great vigor, despite Hazelrae being handicapped by a mundane weapon,
and are on the verge of winning thanks to a well-timed healing spell from
Ishmael, when one of the remaining hags causes the goo to condense into a dozen
tentacle monsters made out of tentacles that immediately attack. No fair!
Cut to the Afterlife, where everyone who has died in the Desserin Valley in
the past eight months has spent at least ten thousand years being stuck to
walls or impaled on tentacles. Aside from minor lapses of scale, it bears a
strong resemblence to the dragon's cave, and in fact the dragon is there as
well, to explain the cold facts of this Afterlife which has no god, no
judgment, and no escape. Things look bad for the Heroines of Red Larch!
Because they are the sort of people they are, the Heroines go around the
Afterlife unsticking people from walls and removing tentacles.
They are assured repeatedly that it's meaningless, but it turns out
that vitue is rewarded even here, as the freed dragon regains enough of her
self to realize that this Afterlife could have a god, and what better
candidate than a ten-thousand-year-old dragon? However, a god needs living
worshippers. The Heroines are possibly still alive enough to count, but will
any of them worship a dragon?
In fact, Mara and Mika are willing to become the founders of the church
of the Crystal Dragon (the two articles of faith are: "There is a key to
every shackle" and "Boo tentacles!"), which is enough for the Heroines to
be returned to life, fully healed, with an enchanted crossbow for Hazelrae,
Due to the time differential, their bodies on the Prime Material Plane have
not even started to fall.
"No fair!" cry the hags, before being finished off in a single round.
Shortly thereafter, Old Gnawbone makes her entrance, receives the Heroines'
report, and tosses everyone out so she can properly mourn her daughter. This is
obviously not the resolution she hoped for when she sent the Heroines to
investigate, but she does not declare a perpetual vendetta against them at this
The Heroines were restored to life using the mana that will eventually
be generated by worshippers of the Crystal Dragon, so if Mika and Mara fail
to establish a proper church, that timeline will be foreclosed. No
Make a comment!
26 August 2017 - Saturday
Today I was not smart enough to go grocery shopping. Instead I
obsessively read Twig
(by the same person who wrote Pact and Worm, which I have not yet
read even though Earl recommended them, but will).
It's never stated in so many words, but the setting is pretty much,
"The Modern Prometheus, published in 1818, was a set of lab
notes". The viewpoint character is part of an elite team of novel organisms
made from scratch and altered humans, who would be in middle school if they
weren't spies and assassins in a Frankensteinpunk dystopia. So feelings. Much
doomed. Very body horror.
- Steven Universe 2.27-28: Rewatch for Marith and Jus. Take
that, you clod!
- Durarara!!x2 6: Rewatch for Marith.
- Vision of Escaflowne 25-26: Love. The end!
- Steven Universe 3.1-5: Yay, it's Lapis Lazuli! And
watermelons! And various other plotlines!
Normal people worship all the Seemly Gods together, but you do not
worship any of them, only your own god. What abhorrent secret about the
Seemly Gods has been revealed to you?
|☐ The Seemly Gods are not actual gods; they were created and are sustained by massive human sacrifice.|
|☐ The Seemly Gods do not exist, they're just a story told by the priests and princes to keep people in line.|
|☐ The Seemly Gods deliberately let monsters into the world, to frighten people into worshiping them.|
|☐ The Seemly Gods promise a just and merciful afterlife, but actually they devour the souls of the dead, destroying them utterly.|
|☐ The Seemly Gods spread their worship because when every living human is baptized to them, they can convert humanity to a better class of servant.|
|☐ The Lady of Heaven worshipped by the Arbonese actually is the supreme deity; the Seemly Gods are servants who violated her edict against toying with humanity.|
Make a comment!
23 August 2017 - Wednesday
Still no Mike, and this week no Kelsey, but everyone else was available,
so we ate Thai food and played Lords
of Waterdeep (I almost won, but then I didn't), and Qwirkle (I
sucked, but then I won after all).
Next week, 13th
Age for sure! Maybe.
What does the setting look like? It's DW
so of course the players have to have a lot of input, but I can draw maps
as long as I leave blanks. I think these maps have a lot of swamps and dark
forests, because less visibility = more creepy, I guess. I also want a
wasteland of ashes and dust that caravans cross on the tops of buried
mountain ranges, but there we have blowing dust to hide the monsters. Not
sure how it fits in with swamps, though.
Isolated villages with horrible or just sordid secrets are a must. Cities
need not just grand architecture to contrast with the slums, but strange
architecture. Possibly everything should be built on bizarre relics of the
past, which raises the question of whether this should be a far-future fantasy.
In any case, there needs to be an ocean, because I thought up this bit
as an example of human backgrounds.
The Arbonese are characteristically tall and thin, with pale skin that
turns bright pink and then painful red under the sun, yellow to white hair,
and blue or grey eyes. They came as colonizers with guns, compasses, and
chronometers, but then the ocean caught fire and the initial expeditionary
force was trapped without backup. Among themselves, the Arbonese have a
great concern for status in different spheres (social, military,
ecclesiastical, ...) and which one applies in any situation, but they rank
everyone else at the bottom of the ladder whenever they can. Also looked
down upon is anyone who deals with human bodies (prostitutes, surgeons,
masseurs, undertakers) even if they're Arbonese. The Arbonese worship a
singular goddess who allegedly created the entire universe and everything
in it, but it's not clear how much good that does them since they
apparently don't have souls. (They say they they have true souls
with are too refined and ineffable for your crude animalistic spirits, but
this is widely agreed to be bullshit.)
Speaking of things the Arbonese call "crude animalistic spirits", the Seemly
Gods are usually depicted as animals with human heads or faces (shedu, sphinx,
etc). They are sufficiently abstract that it's probably not meaningful to talk
about what they "really look like".
I'm less sure about the nonphysicality of the gods the Hierophant could
worship, but this is the sort
of thing (NSFW)the priests of the Seemly Gods say they are.
The Warlock's patron is different. They aren't equals by any means, but
they're beings of the same order, with similar interests and mutually
comprehensible ways of pursuing those interests. This may limit what the patron can
do for the Warlock, but on the other hand, there won't be any of those
embarrassing mixups where the Heirophant's god goes, "Oh, you didn't
want to solve that problem by giving birth to a million live snakes through
your mouth? Weird."
Make a comment!
22 August 2017 - Tuesday
Today my schedule was all thrown off because I had to get Marith to help me
take Aspen in to the vet for scheduled dental work in the morning, instead of
going to work, and then I worked from home and had to get Dave to help me fetch
Aspen home in the evening. Now I feel like I haven't really left the apartment
all day, and I didn't eat what I normally do, and blargh! But Aspen is doing
well and wasn't even as expensive as projected! Of course, with the number of
times she's been to the vet in the past month, it was better to leave the
difference as credit for next time...
But at least there was some Avalon-time! She has given notice at her
horrifyingly mismanaged International Success Life job, so there is an end to
the oppression, even if her new job will not be as high-level.
I've been concentrating on the caster classes, which in some ways are central
to the genre, because I don't think fighter/ranger/thief need much
modification. Maybe a little because I am imagining a slightly higher tech
level, with guns instead of crossbows, but still plenty of swords and daggers
for sticking into people. Barbarians, maybe not so much. I mean, you can grunt
and wave a huge sword around if you want, but I think that just makes you a
particularly inarticulate fighter.
druids are dedicated shapeshifters, which doesn't feel right for this kind
of fantasy. I think it's the difference between turning into an animal, and
turning into a beast. D&D druids are mostly casters, which in WFDW would
probably translate to Warlock, but maybe Hierophant.
I still see no need to put bards into this. Maybe I'm wrong, but obviously
I don't think so.
Earlier I said paladins seemed possible, but now I'm not sure. They don't
seem to go with heirophants; holy warriors are more of an established religion
thing, and the Seemly Gods of mass religion don't empower individuals. But,
secret martial arts techniques of elite murderism have been mentioned, and
isn't the church's order of elite murderers just the sort of group to have
some? Being chosen by a god is nice (for a highly eccentric value of "nice"),
but it's the church that pays for the shiny armor. Probably the Paladin would
not be in good with the church if she's hanging around with PCs, but it's not
like they can unteach you the secret knowledge.
Who else is in the basic
playbooks? Oh, the Immolator. I don't know what to do with the
Immolator in standard DW, never mind WFDW! But they might fit.
Make a comment!
20 August 2017 - Sunday
I managed to go shopping, but that's about it. New shoes, anyway.
I want to condense the WFDWgenre
into a compact form for conveyance for others, which must mean a list of
evocative bits because I read too many OSR blogs. For bonus points, there
should be 20 (or 12, or 36, or some other diceful number) so I can roll up
adventure seeds. However, making them simple words like "mutation",
"infection", "faerie", "cult", or "deformity" doesn't seem evocative
enough, and the only two longer phrases I've come up with so far are "The
worm in the jeweled city" and "The words of the mad prophet, written on the
tenement walls", which seem more like story titles. Bah!
Even though you can't play an elf or a half-dwarfling or a lamia in WFDW,
you can still make your character unique through the power of mutation! Goat
horns? Cloven hooves? Vestigial wings? Snake eyes? Second head? Go for it!
Make a comment!
19 August 2017 - Saturday
HAPPY HAPPY KEN-DAY (observed)!!
No anime, but several people showed up to appreciate Ken, Also some
children were brought to play with Jus and Nonny. Food was eaten, and
eventually several people and their children went away again. The people
who were expected to show up later for the adult beverages portion of the
party mostly had to beg off, though, so we played 7 Wonders and
then called it a night.
Instead of hit points, take 12 plus the hit point base for an equivalent
class and split the sum evenly between Health and Vigor (odd point to
Vigor), then add your CON to your Health and twice your CON to your Vigor.
Damage reduces Vigor first, then Health. When you run out of Health, take
your last breath. If you take damage and it reduces your Health, you can
immediately regain as much Health as the Vigor you lost in exchange for
being knocked out. When you take a breather, you regain all your Vigor.
When you make camp, you get 3+CON heal points, which can be traded in 5 for
a point of Health or 10 for a disability.
World added sex moves because it was something that happened all the
time in the source fiction but never during games, and the designer wanted
to remind people of the option. I'm not sure WFDWneeds
sex moves (although I'm not sure it doesn't), but maybe it does need moves
for getting captured/escaping captivity, so that the option of being knocked
out when you start losing Health is meaningful.
Make a comment!
18 August 2017 - Friday
Arcadia has reached the point where
we need SLAs and support procedures. This is probably not a bad thing, but it
means I need to suck less.
On the other hand, free lunch!
My motto for spells is: "Doing fire damage to people in an arc around you is
boring. Getting a fly speed and maneuverability class is boring. Turning your
arms into wings of fire is awesome." This doesn't rule out all of the spells
from the various editions of the PHB; the 5th ed call
lightning actually makes a storm, so that's pretty good. The various
bigby's hand spells might need to be combined into one, but hey, giant
hand! There are a lot more in the various splatbooks, though, since all the
boring ideas were taken. Some examples:
- Blackfire - The target burns with a black flame that
consumes their life force, and anyone who gets too close catches fire too.
- Fiery Eyes - Your eyes glow, lighting up the area, and
if you focus on something flammable, it ignites.
- Gutsnake - A huge bitey tentacle grows from your stomach.
- Land Womb - Sink into the earth, where no one can find you
while you heal up and plot your revenge.
- Shadow Well - The target falls through their own shadow
into a nightmare world.
- Silverbeard - Your beard grows, even if you didn't have
one, and turns into hard silver to protect your front.
- Skeletal Deliquescence - Turn someone's bones to jelly,
transforming them into an ooze-like creature.
- Smoke Ladder - Take the smoke from your camp fire and
carry it around as a ladder.
- Snake Darts - Shoot your snake tattoos at people to bite
the shit out of them, but you can't cast the spell again until the
snakes crawl back and you swallow them.
- Tortoise Shell - Makes a nigh-invulnerable 5' hemisphere.
When I say "spells", I mostly mean the Wizard, since I imagine them as having
the most discrete powers. The Hierophant is probably somewhat freeform, maybe
a system based on building effects around a few possible words and costing more
divine favor for larger effects. I'm not sure about the Warlock, but I'm
considering having spells based on summoning other servants of their patron to
do specific tasks, with a Cha-based move to talk them into doing additional
But how does the Wizard get spells, if not from an accredited
curriculum? One method that doesn't get used enough in D&D is getting them
from other casters. (Only one character is the Wizard, but that doesn't
mean there can't be NPCs who are similar enough to have spells that can be
acquired.) In D&D, that was through taking or copying other wizards'
spellbooks, but in WFDW,
that won't do.
A spell is a skill that you have learned, but it is simultaneously a
mystical glyph burned into your mind and soul, and a living entity in its
own right. As such, it can be exhausted (useless until you take a breather) or
wounded (until you make camp), but normally it is eager to make its change in
How did you come by your spells? Choose one.
|☐ The Scholars of Night whisper in your ear while you dream.|
|☐ You alone can decipher the glyphs on the stone tablets of
|☐ The elixirs you brew carry your find far beyond our world,
to bring back fragments of ultraterrestrial knowledge.|
|☐ You can, with great effort, mathematically deduce the
secrets of the universe from the motions of the stars.|
|☐ Other people only burn and die when struck by lightning;
you are filled with the white light of knowledge.|
|☐ Shutting out all distractions by burying yourself alive, you
cast your mind back into your ancestral memory, retrieving the secrets of the
serpent folk you are descended from|
Choose three spells that you know. Pick one of them to be your first spell;
it can be exhausted, but never wounded.
Although your talents are unique, there are others in the world who
somehow host spells. We'll call them sorcerers. How can you gain the spells
they have? Choose one.
|☐ Magic is in the blood. When you drink a quart of a sorcerer's
blood, you can learn one of the spells it carries.|
|☐ Learning the secrets of their body will expose the secrets of
their soul. Lie with them in carnal embrace to learn one of their spells.|
|☐ A spell can be learned only through direct contact of souls, in
the dream realms accessible by certain elixirs.|
|☐ Spells are engraved not just on the mind, but on the skull.
Peel back their scalp and study the glyphs you find in the bone beneath.|
|☐ If you are quick and fearless, you can grab the first spell
a sorcerer casts in your presence. Be careful, they bite!|
|☐ You have a spell for that! Add "the rightfull commonality of
occult wisdom" to your list of spells known.|
You can usually only get one spell from a sorcerer, although if you meet
them again much later, they may have a different one exposed. They might be
able to get a spell, or even multiple spells, from you as well. Gaining a spell
from someone doesn't deprive them of it, although they might not be able to cast it for a while.
Make a comment!
17 August 2017 - Thursday
All These Worlds (Dennis E Taylor) is probably the end of the
saga of a Silicon Valley geek who winds up as a clade of AIs saving humanity
and possibly a couple of other sapient species, since all the threats
introduced so far have been dealt with. (Also, it says "The End".) There could
be an entire galaxy's worth of sequels, but they aren't necessary.
Wait, how did I miss Penric's Fox (Lois McMaster Bujold),
despite having read the two stories before it and the two stories after
it?! Hm, now I need to reread the two stories before it, because I don't
remember the details of this shamanism stuff.
In every project, there comes the time to ask "how is this inevitably
doomed?", and I can definitely see downsides to Weird Fantasy Dungeon
World. One is that a lot of people (real people I know, not just the
hordes of the Internet) like going through long menus of character
abilities to find the combination that makes their character most awesomely
effective, and this completely fails to statisfy that urge. On the other
World never provides this, so people who insist on it are already
conveniently ruled out! Same goes for people who don't want their
characters to ever mutate: DW explicitly lets GM moves make permanent
changes to characters (if the ogre rips someone's arm off, that character
is now one-armed, at least until they do something about it).
The major downside is that making up new playbooks (including multiple
unique spell lists (and possibly associated spell failure tables) for every
caster) is a lot of work on top of what a GM already has to do. It would
probably be better to write blurbs for the various caster options, and only
flesh out ones that attracts players, but writing synopses is haaaaard.
Also, of course, I am terrible at all genres, including weird fantasy.
Unrelatedly, a bit for the Warlock (Oath Mage? Contractor?):
When you need to report your success in a task, beg for additional power, or
the like, you must contract your patron. Choose your method:
|Write your message on fine vellum and...
||You take +1 to the Contact Patron roll if...
|☐ place it in a clear glass bottle and sink it in water at least as deep as your height.
||the bottle is tinted, engraved, finely shaped, or otherwise artistic.
|☐ burn it on a bonfire.
||the wood is scented or the fire contains incense.
|☐ lure a bird to you and give it your message.
||the bird is a raven or crow.
|☐ bury it with the body of a beast of good size.
||the beast is larger than a person, or is a person.
|☐ give it to a child along with a silver coin to deliver it to "the
lord/lady at the end of the lane". Do not watch where the child goes.
||the child is whole and healthy.
|☐ Instead, scratch it into your own flesh (take 1 Wounds).
||you choose this method.
When you perform the ritual, roll+Int....
Make a comment!
16 August 2017 - Wednesday
Mike is keeping his daughter from laying waste to Disneyland, Brooks is
busy, and Ken might be going to some kind of work event, so no gaming for us
this week. Sniff!
I'm not very good at it, but I've been playing huge amounts of
on my phone. Because I wasn't using those brain cells anyway.
When I was throwing out the spell list, I forgot to mention a couple of
categories of spells that deserve special attention. One is buffs. In D&D
3.x, managing spell slots to cast buffs and gold to buy magic items to cast
buffs took up a huge amount of table time, was probably crucial to
survival, and was boring as hell. That's probably why 4th edition pretty
much threw out the entire concept and 5th ed hasn't revived it much. Dungeon
World doesn't have much in the way of buffs (+1 forward or some extra
damage or armor is about the best you can do), but without a massive
shopping list of spells to consider at every level gain or windfall, it
wouldn't be too bad if there were such spells.
The other major category of spells that needs to be deal with is healing. I
am conflicted about magical healing at all, but easy quick (IE, in-combat)
healing is definitely out. It just leads to the tank/DPS/healer paradigm where
combat is a war of attrition and a character's only meaningful stat is how
many HP they can add or subtract each round.
It's good for PCs to be able to have more than one fight before turtling up
to heal, which could be done by out-of-combat magic, but I'm more tempted to
have a Stun/Body system, where a light smacking-around clears up after combat,
but severe damage needs time or attention. Magical healing can restore Body
(Wounds? Blood? whatever it gets called), but there's always the chance of
rolling a 6-... (I'm not sure whether the new GM move should be "mark them" or the
more general "roll on the appropriate
table (not that I'd be quite that gross).)
Instead of having magic remove damage with spells or healing potions, we
could have it prevent damage with blessings or protective amulets. (If
these are generally available, they'd have to be classified as just a
thing, not magic, but whatever.) Each amulet protects against one kind of
harm ("charm to ward off an enemy's blow", "charm to negate an enemy's
curse", "charm against pestilence", etc), and when you take harm of that
kind, you can sacrifice the charm to avoid it. You can only have one charm
of a given kind, and only a very few (2? maybe 3 if you're high-level?)
total, and they have to be custom-made and attached, so you can't buy
spares. I have no idea whether protective amulets (or maybe they should be
tattoos?) are more interesting than healing potions.
Oh, detect spells can also be a problem. Fortunately I would use drives
rather than alignments, so the horror of Detect Evil/Chaos/Alignment is
irrelevant. Magic is not a well-understood every day thing, so we don't
need Detect Magic, either. If you can't tell whether the object you just
found is magic, have your wizard spend a while licking it or irradiating it
or sleeping with it under her pillow or something. The other detection spells
almost never get used, since they always have to compete with all the spells
that increase damage/healing output, so maybe it would be interesting to have
one of a caster's few spells be one.
I still have more thoughts, for later.
Make a comment!
15 August 2017 - Tuesday
Right, I was blathering about civilization vs weird fantasy. Although
I'm tried to make spells and magic items not an everyday thing, this is not
any kind of "science/the free market/heterosexually monogamous worship of
the Great White One destroys all that is magical in the world" setting. For
one, cities need to be hives of scum
and grotesquerie. Just because you can't shop for magic like you do for
longswords and iron rations doesn't mean you can't find people to do
unnatural things for you (if you pay) or to you (if you don't pay fast
enough). You just can't get the unnatural things off a standard list.
What civilization does with weird stuff is coopt it, even if translating
real magic into something that normal humans can use and teach to each
other makes it less magic. The witch under the mountain wouldn't make a
magic sword for a bronze age queen, so she set her sages to replicating it.
They didn't make a god-slicing orichalcum blade, but they made an iron one,
which human ingenuity then made more efficient to produce, and eventually
refined into steel and other alloys. The heroes who returned from the
cyclopean temple in the wastes couldn't build a palace quite that grand,
but the barrel vault was pretty impressive for the time, and has since
evolved into the arches and domes used in all sorts of modern edifices.
Crop rotation isn't vines that bear as fast as they can be harvested, but
it's not nothing. All the way back to the invention of fire, perhaps.
Even common religion could be an example of this. The seemly gods don't
provide miracles like the weird gods do, but they do act on a statistical
level: the prayers of a devout parent or
even an ordained priest won't help a child dying of cholera, but if the
priests have been conducting the rites and the people are pious, it will only
be a minor outbreak of cholera, not an epidemic. (Of course, everyone's
enemies are praying against them, and there are no doubt unpleasant gods
working against humanity, but it's still better to have gods on your
Possibly this is why I don't mind the idea of martial artists (broadly
defined) learning abilities that probably count as magic. Not Kamehameha, but
tough skin, enhanced senses, maybe even flash step. Just so long as it's elite
murderism, not bargain-basement.
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14 August 2017 - Monday
I don't usually reflog Kickstarter projects even when they ask me to,
of the First Age is mythic monstergirls Powered
by the Apocalypse, so what could go wrong?
I'm still thinking (futilely) about SCOOSs
and Eclipse World, but at the moment my brain is mostly still thinking
about "fixing" D&D by using Dungeon
World and making everything weird fantasy.
Once all the old spellcasting classes are gone, we need new ones! The Priest
(needs a better name &emdash; the Holy Woman? the Hierophant? the Mystagogue?)
has divine favor, which goes down if they break taboos or make the gods provide
miracles, but increases
when they perform the rites and offer the sacrifices, or if they do something to
spread their god's worship, like make converts or build shrines.
The Warlock is business rather than worship: when they call on their
patron's power to do magic, they incur debt, and when the debt gets too high,
their patron gives them a specific task to work off a certain amount of it.
There might be standing tasks, too, like thwarting the patron's specific
enemies, or maybe a Cha move to argue that they should get credit for a
Both of these should have powers and drawbacks based on where they get their
power, which means work for the GM even once the space of possiblities is
hinted at. What should be space of possibilities be? Not the major gods that
D&D clerics worship, like Zeus and Poseidon and Aphrodite, but probably more
than a Shinto-like god of this here tree. One of the OSR blogs I read had the
priest of the snake god of secrets, who was the enemy of the bird god of lies,
which seemed to work pretty well. Animal + single domain as a rule? Most DW
playbooks have a list of 4-6 options for something like that, although in this
case they'd each need a separate spell/power and taboo/geas list.
Warlock patrons could be any magically powerful thing. I think it was
Albion where the list of warlock patrons included at least one each of mad
angels, bored demons, fairy queens, and Queen Victoria × Nyarlathotep.
Again, multiple sheets of powers and standing tasks.
There should be a kind of caster that does magic by knowing things,
rather than by channelling someone else's power, but even if they like
books, that doesn't mean their magic is just written down to be read. How
do they learn their magic, though? Individual apprenticeship gives them a
tie to another practitioner, which is good. But can they get the initial
secrets of magic from somewhere else? Astrology? Drug-fueled astral travel?
Monsters from beyond the stars Fairies coming to whisper
in their ear while they sleep? Near-death experiences? I like the idea that all
the scribbling wizards do is trying to either reverse-engineer the individual
spells they have received, or put them into a form that can be conveyed to
That brings me to my thought about civilization vs weird fantasy, but that
can be tomorrow's entry.
Make a comment!
13 August 2017 - Sunday
At long last,
The Heroines of Red Larch have barely left the site of the last victory
when they are accosted by the terrifying grandmother of the [SPOILER] they
did in a few episodes back. She is worried about her daughter, who yes is
the mother of the one who was slain, but surely that will not be awkward
when the Heroines go to check up on her. Not as awkward as what will happen
if they decline this favor, anyway! The [SPOILER] of Interest's creepy and
possibly estranged assistant gives the Heroines directions and then
disappears in a disturbing way to meet them there.
They weren't ordered not to, so the Heroines stop in Red Larch on the way to
set up the people and other things they rescued in town, and also to seek
qualified spiritual advice on the nightmares Lam has started having again. The
first seems okay, but no dice on the second (except that protection from
good and evil interrupts the nightmares), so they continue on their mission.
On the road, they are assaulted by trolls, which is annoying only because not
enough of the Heroines do fire damage and they have to use torches from
campfire like common NPCs. Also Akr´ starts having the nightmares instead
of Lam, which probably means something.
It was only implied that they shouldn't stop by [SPOILER], so they do, and
find out that the nightmares are probably the result of [SPOILER], which will
have to be dealt with at some point.
Finally, they reach the appointed meeting place and get snarked at by the
assistant, who is disappears creepily again. There is some maneuvering around
in the woods, during which they get a glimpse of [SPOILER] of Interest, who
does not seem to be doing well. Since Mika has all the mobility (once she
borrows Rimardo's wingéd boots), she gets sent in alone to scout
the lair while [SPOILER].
Mika finds a bunch of dead bodies, including at least one person who has
been seen walking around recently, and then [SPOILER] comes back and Mike discovers
just why she is not acting normal! While she is trying to avoid discovery, the
assistant appears out of the darkness even more disturbingly than usual, and
the session ends on a cliffhanger!
Oh, that's what's been going on in Charlottesville. Fucking murderous
Nazis. I hope everyone who's been supporting the Republican party over the
past few decades is happy.
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12 August 2017 - Saturday
Marith is all flat from worrying about things, but we watched anime anyway,
because we are cruel and heartless. Also, we ate homemade fish burritos!
- My Little Pony 20: It might not be okay to pass on gossip, but
surely it's okay to suggest that people talk honestly about something!
- Durarara!!x2 3.6: Mostly talking, this time, but it is only
setup for the doom that is to come.
- Vision of Escaflowne 24: That's one way to deal with the time
- Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju 1: I have seen this before, but
everyone else seemed to like it too.
- Steven Universe 2.26-28: That explains why I couldn't figure
out how old Steven is!
Make a comment!
11 August 2017 - Friday
Marith cannot really afford to keep living in a fancy two-bedroom apartment
all by herself, so perhaps she will become my neighbor again! But, rental
Make a comment!
10 August 2017 - Thursday
I have nothing to do while walking home but watch what bubbles to the
surface of my deliquescing old brain. Today, it wants to make D&D better
(really I'd use Dungeon
World, but D&D is a common frame of reference for that kind of fantasy
which in this case means more fantastic, especially weird fantasy/horror. I
blame the Internet.
- Throw out the Monster Manual, except the appendices for
NPCs and normal beasts. Especially throw out the standard humanoids:
they don't play any role that couldn't be played by humans, and using
humans might make it clearer that those roles don't need to exist. Also
especially get rid of the monsters that come in neat taxonomies,
color-coded by preferred terrain and damage type/resistance. (I don't
know that all dragons need to be unique,
but it would be better than making them all the same.) And the vast array
of carefully-categorized undead. The rest aren't bad in and of
themselves, but are either folkloric or D&D-iconic, hence weighed down
with baggage. It would be possible to have an interesting manticore or
unicorn, or even vampire, but not in the standard form.
- Similary, throw out the Playable Races section of the PHB.
If you really want to play an elf or a dwarf, there are several LotR
RPGs, but otherwise they just seem to be a way to bundle some
background together with minmaxing your stats.
- Throw out the spell list. Especially throw out the spells
that just do damage, but all the other standard ones have too much
baggage just like with the standard monsters. I saw a suggestion
to throw out all the spells from the main book and only use obscure
spells, which are much more interesting, and that would be good as long
as the single important stat for all characters wasn't DPR. (I blame
WoW for making tank/DPS/healer the only conceivable paradigm of fantasy
- Throw out the spellcasting classes. Not entirely, but if
magic is to be fantastical, it can't really come from attending an
accredited institution (whether university or seminary) and studying a
standardized curriculum to become a white-collar professional.
Actually, I'm pretty dubious about the distinction between divine and
arcane magic; in weird fantasy, sorcerers usually worship something.
But there can still be multiple kinds of magic, as long as none of them
are everyday. I like the warlock model, where magic has to be paid for
with service, but the patron has to be named and give specific tasks
and well-defined powers. (I'm not big on free-form magic for PCs for
this, I think; it may be less mechanistic, but it's too much like the
PC actually understands magic.) Magic powers from nonhuman ancestry is
good, but shoehorning them into a spellcasting model is boring. Maybe
instead of a sorcerer class, each bloodline of power is a compendium
class or similar. Druids are like clerics, and I'm not even sure what the
point of bards is, except to encourage fourth-wall breakers.
- Throw out paladin and ranger spellcasting. I'm not sure
why rangers even cast spells, except that earlier editions did it.
Paladins should have divine gifts of some kind, but that doesn't mean
it should be spellcasting. Doesn't mean not, I guess.
- Throw out magic item lists. At least, all the ones that
give plusses. (This is already done in Dungeon World, or pretty close.)
This doesn't mean that we shouldn't have monsters or spell-casting PCs or
magic items, just that they should all be unique. (Which fits well with
Dungeon World, where you aren't just one of many wizards, or even one of many
fighters, you're The Wizard, or The Fighter. But the playbooks need to be less
like the D&D classes we're getting rid of.) This would be difficult or
impossible in a mass-market game, but what do I care? This probably isn't even
ever going to be my own personal game!
More later, this blog entry is already too long.
Make a comment!
9 August 2017 - Wednesday
BBQ and the grand finale of Dungeon
World! The PCs' lust for treasure has gotten them into more trouble,
but I think next Ken demands that we make Birthright
characters before he runs 13th Age some
Dire: Sins (Andrew Seiple) is the fifth installment in the
series about a mysterious supervillain who always refers to herself in the
third person and wants to make the world work right. In this
episode, Dire gets some new allies to help her crush the asshole who has
been annoying her for a couple of books, but then ends up in an even worse
situation, because of course she does.
Wow, I made it to level 25 in Pixel Dungeon! Let's hear it for
the +7 stunning warhammer and +3 plate mail! I found out what the fourth
boss fight is, and what the reward is, and what the fifth boss fight is,
but not that reward. Oops.
Make a comment!
7 August 2017 - Monday
My accomplishment today: providing moral support to Marith while she tried
to figure out how to unexplode her situation.
Heroine Complex (Sarah Kuhn) is.. humorous urban fantasy chick
lit? I think that might be pejorative, though, and it's not bad. The main
character has emotional growth, a substantial romantic subplot, and the chance
to save all of San Francisco from goofy demons.
Make a comment!
6 August 2017 - Sunday
HAPPY HAPPY RACHEL- and EDIE-DAY (observed)!!
this week, there's a birthday party! One million people showed up, there
was conversation and unhealthy food and also cake. Then it was too loud for
the volume, so I slunk away into the blazing heat.
I walked several steps today, but did not actually accomplish anything.
Make a comment!
5 August 2017 - Saturday
I tried to go grocery shopping, but that entire side of the shopping center
is tented up for fumigation! This is both alarming and inconvenient!
Fortunately there is another Trader Joe's that is not hard to reach, but my
schedule is all thrown off!
Ken and Ayse and Jus and Nonny were at the
water park all day, so when Earl and
Cat came over, we ordered Thai food instead
of eating something cooked by Ken.
Marith is too sleepy and also her car is broken. Woe!
- Nirvana in Fire 19-21: I hope none of my birthday parties
ever turn out that way!
Make a comment!
4 August 2017 - Friday
For the past week or two, I have been compulsively reading
The Gods are Bastards, which
bills itself as a "high fantasy Western". That's not untrue, but I would
describe it as a post-D&D world. It has wizards, clerics, paladins, and
warlocks; elves, dwarves, gnomes, and drow; but it also has mass-produced wands
of lightning, light bulbs, and the equivalent of trains and telegraphs. The age
of adventurers is over, and civilization covers almost the entire continent.
This isn't to say that there aren't still people with immense personal power,
but the major theme is that these people need to learn to use political
maneuvering and soft power, not just hitting things with fireballs.
It's not finished by any means, but I have caught up through volume 12. We
are finally getting to see some of what is going on with the gods and what
their constraints are, but there is still plenty of doom for the characters not
involved in that plotline.
Make a comment!
3 August 2017 - Thursday
And now I have already failed at writing. At least I was reading,
instead of just reblogging anime girls on tumblr, but still a huge fail
Make a comment!
2 August 2017 - Wednesday
Chinese food and
Dungeon World! I
meant this to be the last session, but because of kids we only actually have
about an hour and a half of gaming each week, so that did not succeed. I think
it might have gone well? Maybe? Probably not, really. But I did get to the
extra doom I had planned, although it will not take full effect until next
After next week, Mike is unavailable for a couple of week, so I really do
need to wrap up. And then hide a pit forever, probably.
Make a comment!
1 August 2017 - Tuesday
This morning I put Aspen in the Box of Woe and took her (with Marith's generous
assistance) to have her staples removed. All seems well, at least of the time
I let her out to go hide under the bed.
Surprisingly, Aspen has started mewing piteously when put in the Box. She
used to never make noise except very rare hisses. I don't know what this
portends, if anything.
Aspen is still fine in the evening, and did not struggle too much when I
freed her from the shirt and combed out some of her looser mats. It is so hard
being a kitty!
So far this month, I have written one day. It is still terrible.
Make a comment!