Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Good 'Ole Book Burning

 
I get the impression that our 13thAge game is starting its end soon, partially because we are getting beaten up within an inch of our lives but GM Jack is also asking us some tell tale questions. I have enjoyed playing a Paladin enormously and am now just trying to squeeze a few more things onto his bucket list before I have to put him down for a bit. To be honest, despite the fact I think the GM has occasionally felt a little bad about the beatings we have been getting, I have no complaints, particularly as we are still only 1st level characters. Oddly enough it really doesn't seem that way; I have 48 hit points, some magic items as well as some spells. The point is that I try not to get too attached to characters in general and particularly not low level ones; the occasional demise does keep a healthy respect for a game. Anyway, having exposed some undead trafficking in a crypt by an as yet unapprehended cultist, we took a brief break by burning some of his books we found.
 
The grounds of this particular Cathedral are somewhat of a Hyde Park corner, or religious shop window for recruitment for all of the major religions in town. A veritable extremist shouting match, but nothing raises interest levels more than a good old book burning. The extent to which burning knowledge for the Greater Good is concerned is a fun topic - not sure whether you can call it specifically censorship as opposed to aggressive editing but where there is right there is wrong and is an ignorant lawful citizen better than an educated neutral one ? I feel a Judge Dredd ethics approach coming on... I am a little curious if my character would extend this to burning witches and the like - I wouldn't want any creature to suffer for the sake of it but some heinous characters do need to be made an example of and people need to know where evil will inevitably lead. Sort of fighting fire with fire.
 
Book burning has a long and esteemed history but I am a little perturbed that the Wikipedia article doesn't cover book burning in a particularly good light so I might try an make a case; more so as there isn't an option to burn web pages.
 
I suppose we will find out where this will go in due course, but for now we believe our arch villain to be a member of the Lamp Lighters Guild. One of those invisible but ubiquitous professions suited to serial killers and leafleters. The bastards.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Great Dalmuti



Its on occasion when a GM can't make it for some reason that people pull out various weird and wonderful board and card games. A couple of weeks ago for example we played Zombie Fluxx and Love letter. Zombie Fluxx is a wonderful chaos where there are so many cards in play its madness just trying to work out what is going on and, just when you think you are about to win, they are all collected in and reset. I would suppose panic and chaos are essential ingredients in any Zombies apocalypse. Good fun but I won my first game without even realising it; like a lot of rule sets its a matter of getting to know the cards. Love letter, however, is a much faster paced game of deduction whilst trying to discard all of your cards - much more amenable to a round of drinks.
 
Nevertheless, my favourite by far is The Great Dalmuti, more so as you can actually roleplay if you have able bodied people who are prepared to be shouted at and scorned for being plebs. Basically its a game of social standing and everyone is arranged in a circle, playing a particular ranking character. We have a Great Dalmuti, a Lesser Dalmuti, various Merchants/middle men, a Greater Peon and, the lowest of the low, the Lesser Peon. The lesser Peon is responsible for collecting in the cards, re-dealing and general tidying up in as miserable a way as possible.
 
I prefer to add some spice and arrange the room appropriately. The nicest chair, usually a comfortable  office swivel one with arm rests is for the Great Dalmuti, the lesser Dalmuti gets perhaps a fixed chair without armrests, but very comfortable nonetheless, the merchants can have nice big pillows to sit on or optional bean bag if available, the Greater Peon, perhaps a folded bath towel and finally the Lesser Peon, nothing at all - or maybe a flannel if its Christmas. I also like to give the Great Dalmuti a seal of office such as an umbrella and/or hat; something to poke people with is fine.  Just like the Stanford Prison Experiment, given the right tools, its wonderful to watch the game roll.
 
The game is a bit like gin rummy, and there is a race to lose your cards each round to retain your standing. The first to lose their cards becomes the Great Dalmuti, the second the Lesser Dalmuti and so on. Unfortunately for the Peons, the deck is always a bit stacked against them as the Dalmutis tax them a couple of their best cards at the beginning of each round but there is sometimes the option of Revolution when the kings swap places with the beggars.
 
During play idle chat is fine, provided it goes through the proper channels. Everyone should be polite and reverential to the Dalmutis, though they should always ask permission from the Lesser Dalmuti before addressing the Greater Dalmuti directly, laugh at their Jokes and generally tell them how wonderful they are. Merchants can generally be agreeable and self affirming whilst people should talk down to the Peons and make sure that they are getting on with things. The Lesser Peon should always go through the Greater Peon before addressing anyone or be beaten/poked with an umbrella.
 
One for the family at Christmas if you don't mind not talking to them for a week....


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Illustrious history of Poultry


So, people are taking the **** a bit at the moment as I have just started to play Skyrim, hugely rated for its open world scenarios it nevertheless slips occasionally into ye olde artificial intelligence. My first encounter, perhaps like all first impressions, has shaped my destiny it seems. It was dark, snowing and I was trying to find refuge for the night when I stumbled across a small town - I would guess its the one nearest the initial spawn point. New to the game and with a slow computer, I was struggling a little but it was playable, so I staggered through the open gates looking for the Inn. The locals appeared benign enough in an automaton sort of way, when suddenly there was a sound next to me and I was set  upon out of nowhere. Panicking and turning around with my great axe in hand, and I think it was even a misclick, I naturally swiped out at what transpired to be a chicken (presumably on guard duty) deftly slaying it in an instant. It was at this point that every local in the vicinity drew their knives and dived onto me psychotically stabbing and slashing. Still not quite sure of what was going on I defended myself against these screaming fanatics until a small pile of dead bodies had the last word, including unfortunately, someone who I was supposed to talk to. Well, I decided to carry on with the game but have not since returned to the City of Holy Poultry, but honestly, if I accidentally killed someones Chicken in the real world I would not expect a national outcry.

So, I'm not sure what I learnt but it did bring back happy memories of other Chickens I have crossed on my gaming road. Notably the Dungeon Keeper chickens were some of the most amusing. Not actually a force for good or evil as such, buy you could possess them and immerse yourself in their gestalt- wandering around a dungeon and occasionally pecking at the ground - what better way to while away the hours.


Not really a role playing game at all but I cant resist reminiscing about my favorite teenage arcade game, Joust. Not chickens as such bit magnificent flying ostrich type war creatures with mounted jousting Knights, that when colliding, the player or npc with the lower lance would be dismounted. Survival depended on successfully jousting through each wave. Oh and if you flew too close to the lava at the bottom of the screen a molten hand would rise and try and grab your birds legs, dragging them into the fiery mire. Brilliant.

More on topic I am reminded of the Rolemaster War Turkey. There isn't enough room here to post the stats as its Rolemaster; not that one should be too concerned on the field of battle but I would suggest budding generals not underestimate them when deployed in force.

And finally the Cockatrice, not to be underestimated, whilst you are laughing at a dragon with a chickens head, you are in danger of staying that way as if you fail the petrification, you'll suddenly be made of stone. Not sure what would be worse - the feeling of your bones turning to masonry or the fading sound of clucking laughter as you pass away realizing that you've just won a Darwin award...

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Cryptography

This last week we got into a bit of a pickle. Continuing on our trail of dead bodies we are currently up to our collective knees (currently even in number) in undead. It would seem that our keen deductive skills have led us to the conclusion that if you are looking for someone who is making Zombies, then perhaps a Crypt would be a good place to start.
 
Now, to be fair, its clearly an inside job from one of the priests running the place but they don't seem to think so. Evidence is not always something that would convince  a religious nutter but due diligence means we are now forced into a corpse audit. So, as a Paladin, I am of course concerned with what is right and wrong but does this extend to stock taking? Not sure, I would suppose it depends on how I feel about it but how does it work in the real world ? I know for example a library has to have a stock take - it shuts, counts the books, and reopens. But what about a graveyard or an aforementioned Crypt.. In the real world I suppose you wouldn't expect bodies to disappear but how would you actually know ? The whole point is to eliminate expectations altogether and audit properly.
 
Nevertheless, we started the arduous task of counting the graves and bodies. Didn't take long of course before we came across some loose brickwork and we are now fighting for our lives - in the region of 20 skeletons - worryingly some of which are standing at the back waving their arms and I don't think they are trying to get our attention.
 
Out of curiosity here is the link to the UKGov document on advice for burial ground managers.
 
 
I was just curious if audits were in fact mandatory in the real world or if three was anything else that may help us in our current quest, though I don't suppose that we can effectively fight undead with red tape. I do however note that :
 
"2.23 Burial authorities may contribute towards the provision or maintenance of burial grounds in which their inhabitants may be buried "
 
"may be buried" !?..... If there are indeed inhabitants of burial grounds that may not be buried there then who or what are we talking about exactly....
 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

You gotta laugh

Despite the dark side of the comic book character genre there is also its rather more satirical side; a sort of caricature of a caricature Whilst I have played quite a few heroes system as such - GURPS supers come to mind as my preferred , hero/villain character generation just cries out for parody; it just seems to come naturally out of the advantage/ disadvantage or power/ vulnerability points systems. My last favourite character in this regard was a superfast explosive expert by the name of Mr Mollotov, who could flash into a scene, assemble complex explosives at superfast speeds and dash out again. Wonderful superskills in principal but balanced by severe DTs, chain smoking, caffeine addiction and insomnia -basically a nervous wreck. I'm sure everyone has their favourite.

 But for those who don't know there are onliners who have taken up this particular cause and created some wonderful comic strips in the meta. Thanks to Mike and Jules for chipping in some of these links.
 
The first I came across was Goblins: The trial and tribulations of level 1 miscreants and what they have to put up with on a day to day basis. Fumbles is an excellent name for a character by the way.
 
Webcomics: DM of the Rings. This one is like the Red vs Blue video satire but set in Middle Earth, where everyone is just trying to work out what is going on....
 
 
Darths and Droids. My favourite I think - such an easy read with the scene selection its an absolute pleasure to flick through.
 
 
Oh, and I note that The Knights of Basassdom is now finally out on demand. Horribly flawed for the casual film buff but enough in it to make it a worthy giggle for the gamer :-) 4 out of 5 stars.
 
 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Bite to the death.


So, I have a dental appointment at the beginning of Dec and hopefully wont be toothless for Christmas otherwise I'll be blending my turkey. What the fuck am I talking about ? God knows but it got me thinking about various biting issues I have come across. Now the bite is one extra attack in most cases so perhaps not as concerning in and of itself (Dragons aside) but, like a most orthodontic issues, there are consequences in the long run for not taking teeth seriously enough.
 
As a GM I have sneaked in the odd rabid dog into an adventure, which is particularly amusing when high level characters are concerned as they often try and brush off the details. I reminisce one particular Rolemaster party of 30+ level players that slayed their way through a cave complex to an insane Demon. Though they barely paused to wipe the orc blood off their clothes, one of them did pick up a scratch from some nasty guard dogs. Instant lycanthropy of course. Whilst the player hardly remembered the incident he was concerned to be having blackouts every month and finding his home both trashed and smeared with body parts. Oh how we laughed..
  
 
So, there have been plenty of dramas of late concerning the paradigm between the Werewolf and our other fiendishly fanged friend the Vampyre. I'm thinking of the Underworlde series of films but also Being Human come to mind as well as others I am sure you can think of. What happens exactly if and when one bites the other has been an interesting subject, however I do feel that humans are under represented here...
 
 
Now follow my logic - should a human be attacked by a werewolf of course its often a foregone plot device but I'm not so sure about this. A defenceless human being attacked by a werewolf would be quickly mashed one would think but what if the human got in the first bite ? Perhaps even with the help of a surprise advantage ? Why would this matter ? Well, for all of you burgeoning dentists and Van Helsings out there you will of course know that our fillings are more often or not made from amalgam, which  consists of: mercury (50%), silver (~22-32% ),  tin (~14%), copper(~8%), and other trace metals. Well its the 22.32% that matters they say and a possible fatal wound for the werewolf. Though the relationship between Silver and Vampyres is a little less clear I would say, I think its just a matter of getting the fillings blessed first and pretty much the same strategy can be adopted, though sneezing power is always handy in such a dilemma.
 
So to the moral of the story, if you come across any Goth like pale faced people eyeing you up in the evening or perhaps a particularly hairy person sniffing you from a distance in the local country pub after hours, don't hesitate, get your bite in first!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Losing the plot


Occasionally I can give a GM a hard time though I learnt my lesson very early on in my roleplaying career... Twas the night before Cyberpunk when for too many weeks I felt we had the local press constantly turning up immediately after things went badly wrong for our Police Department - every time a bystander got shot they were there - every time the criminal got away, they magically turned up in their helicopter, every borked drug bust they were waiting around the corner yada yada. We were getting such a hard time as players... I got so pissed off that the GM was just making things coincidentally bad for us all the time that I had a massive go at him. Of course the real reason was that someone else in the party was a bad cop taking back handed bribes from the local media and radioed in each time we fucked up. No news like bad news. This little anecdote is a happy ending in itself really as I learnt a lesson early on both as a teenager who should have more respect and in gaming terms of course, never argue with the GM.

There is a wonderful set of videos by DawforgedCast on how to conduct yourself properly as a player as well as sterling advice on when it is suitable to ask to go to the toilet. A sort of Proper Chaps Almenac to RolePlaying.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5KwWJyibzM

There is even a Facebook page for Bad Roleplayers:
Though I cant quite work out what its about exactly.
 
These days, although always feeling a little hard done by, I do whinge more than I should but I know my flaws; and having lost so many characters now to various ridiculous situations I have thicker skin . If this a normal reaction then fair enough but what about less stable or well adjusted people ? when do our idiosyncrasies start to manifest at the low end of the psychotic scale ?

Would you bury bad dice for example ? Anyone broken a pencil... without realising it ??
 
 
Or do we know anyone who has gone the full Tom Hanks?

So what do you look out for if you are about to lose the plot completely? Well I don't know...but here are fourteen pictures of Rob as I caught him incessantly rolling his little D20..













 
 
 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Extremeism

 
Pope Benedict XVI With a current opportunity to play a lawful good religious character, it has got me thinking about how thin the line is between the alignments. Albeit umbrella terminology perhaps 'Religious' and 'Good' are oxymorons or highlight the subjective nature of what it is to be good. Given the human condition, the matter is a little easier as, although you have to accept axioms at some point, systems based on human happiness can be derived from first principals of experience - such as the Buddhist approach from a desire to achieve enlightenment through happiness or indeed one can construct ethics based on human wellbeing  [see Sam Harris  ]. There are also genetics to consider - not to be confused with a eugenics of course - but there will be behavioural trends in the human genome and therefore a possibly empirical view as to the constitution of what is in society's best interests.
 
The slippery slope starts with lawful systems in which people suffer as a direct consequence whilst apologists will nevertheless act for what they perceive as the greater good. In other words how do you classify extremist behaviour ? As a Paladin the lawful bit comes easily enough but would I shield bash a nice old lady who was standing in the way? Well, possibly. Goodness and righteousness have their opposites but the also have their extrapolations; but is this a new dimension to the alignment rubric?
 
Would a Lawful Good character challenge a Lawful Good Extremist ?
I would suppose you couldn't have a Neutral Extremist ? Or is that a morbidly lazy individual?
Chaotic Extremism sounds fun to play - is that a religious Jester ?
Is Lawful Evil Extremism the same as Lawful Good Extremism ?
 
Judge dreddThere is an additional issue that truly confuses the matter for role players and that is race of course. Deriving human happiness in very general terms is no that difficult but what about orcs, goblins, ghosts and demons. This is where you have to fall back on a rubric or roleplaying a case in point I think.
 
 
Looking to the future we will of course be seeking to adjust our own genetic material. Other than the professional ethics of how to do this there is also the possibility of creating ethical creatures that are in fact not ultimately human. How are they to be judged ?
 
If you are curious and prepared to answer 48 questions then here is an alignment test.
Extremism is not on there.
 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Paladins dont pick locks.

kick in the door by Pachycrocuta
Often there is a choice to be made whenever egress is required to somewhere you shouldn't be; is it better to tread softly or charge in? The choice is often life or afterlife related, never quite sure about that one, but it comes up quite a lot. An obvious answer is that it is situation dependent but a closed door is a closed door. The nice thing about the direct approach is that it keeps a game rolling but of course may also entail heads rolling at the same time. It's potentially a dangerously lazy habit also as so far in our 13Age game we have been merrily kicking our way up the experience ladder but we are also noticeably shaving ourselves closer and closer to 0 hit points on each occasion. Perhaps the GM is trying to tell us something.
 
For the next DnD supplement on door kicking here are a few extracts from other vexed adventurers who share our dilemma...


COMBAT TECHNIQUES IN BUILT-UP AREAS:
zcustomxg4.jpg(7) When a door is the only means of entering a room, soldiers must beware of fire from enemy soldiers within the room and beware of booby traps. Doors can be opened by using the hand, by kicking, by firing, or by using pioneer tools such as an axe. When opening a door, soldiers must not expose themselves to firers through the door. A two-man team should be used when doors are opened by hand. Each soldier should stay close to one side of the doorway so as not to expose himself in the open doorframe. However, it is better to open the door by kicking or firing. When kicking, one man stands to the side while the other kicks

Correct and safe use of a light sabre

File:Jedi cutting door.png

Resetting forgotten passwords...


Keeping Aliens out of your front room

 
Dodgy garage doors
 
 enter image description here

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Splitting the party.


 
 
Ah, the old ones are the best. Not a Cthulhu reference but last week in the 13th Age we tried to take the p*** a bit and deliberately split the party in the search for various plot leads just to see what would happen. Quite rightly GMJack suitably chastised us and when I say chastised I mean flayed us within a inch of our lives. Poor little Tiefling, She had, for reasons that escape me (though reason seems like the only party member that is capable of escaping anything at the moment),  wandered down an alley and got herself mugged by 17 people. Now GMJack is making a point here I feel as its not often than 17 muggers crawl out of the brickwork - I mean there has to be an economic issue with regard to cost effectiveness of splitting loot 17 ways let alone the general HR paperwork and CPD. To be fair it would appear that the majority of them were on an apprentice or job sharing scheme as they only had 5 hit points each but even still we barely got there in enough time to save our little schizophrenic diabolist.
For anyone who has not come across it here is the jingle:
 
Meanwhile GMWarren's report from D&D5e reads as follows:
 

"After the brief and fatal (for the scout / investigator) diversion in some Goblin caves the party left with a rescued captive leaving the goblin tribe severly reduced in numbers but happily with a new leader (though Godlin politics being what it is might not be for long). The party head to their destination of Phandalin, a frontiers town built on the ruins of a previous settlement built hundreds of years before (mainly for humans, dwarves and halflings).
 
That evening after meeting up with their contacts and gaining a bit of well earned gold the party explored the town meeting the people. It would seem most from to the West side of town are friendly sort whilst those on the east side of town near the haunted manor are brigands, ruffians and downright hooligans. It would seem the town has a gang problem.
 
There were various conversations with townsfolk - the local priestess, the townsmaster plus a few farmers but the main focus was the gand on the east side of town. The druid wanted to test out her new ability of changing into another form and promptly went for a mastiff where she tried to get into the inn at the east side of town (a local gang haunt) . In managing to run into the Inn she tried to ingratiate herself with the members. She did manage but suddenly realised that the gang members needed another animal for their 'pit fights'.
 
Pick up and dumped in front of three cages holding rats. Luckily the rats were normal rats and the druid mastiff made quick work of them. After that she had to swiftly leave as her transformative powers were running out.
 
So we left it with the druid, now disguised as a cat, having left the inn was making her way towards the haunted manor alone whilst the rest of the group were contemplating a search for a druid, tracking down a tribe (well 15) of orcs with a potential side trip of a banshee visit or dealing with this gang that may be behind he disappearance of a man and his family "
 
PS Welcome to Paul who joined us last week, hope to see you again.
PPS and massive street cred to Dave for bringing a Birthday cake for GMJack last week. Cake should be made compulsory when roleplaying.