Friday, March 30, 2012

Ridiculous Search

Oh gosh, this one's great! And two people found my blog through this search, which is...

calvin and hobbs piss on you


Thursday, March 29, 2012

4eMOD: The oAssassin

I can't remember exactly what my initial reaction was when I originally saw the Assassin come out on DnD Insider. I know it involved a lot of staring, shouting, and eventually screaming in joy. I do remember the lasting peace that spread through everywhere and warmed the cockles of my overjoyed heart, though. That was pretty distinctive.

So was my letdown upon seeing the boards. Apparently the Assassin sucks.

Now, this was news to me. My friend Sunohara had played an assassin awhile back in one of my games, and he had a blast. He played the class as it should have been: someone who hides in the shadows, destroys one target with a well-placed blow, and moves on. Granted, in that game I had cut the HP in half and doubled the damage of the monsters, but that's moot, right? Wrong. Turns out when you mess with the math like that it pretty severely skews things in the assassin's favor. I looked at charts and graphs and arguments, and concluded the naysayers were right. Had I not modified the math as I did, Sunohara's assassin (named Blackstar after an anime character who I just now had the... pleasure... of meeting... *twitches*) wouldn't have been nearly as effective. "Well, I thought, we'll just have to fix that." So I did.

The assassin is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and well-designed classes in the game, even if its not one of the most effective. It sets up a style of play extremely effectively, to the point to where I try to push that in all my 4eMOD classes. But, it does need a few tweaks for effectiveness. Here are a few things I would add:

Weapon Finesse: This lets the assassin use Dexterity for his melee basic attack and damage rolls. That little change alone lets the assassin play so much more offensively it's almost ridiculous. Seriously, an assassin can charge now! Laugh if you will, but sometimes that extra movement can make all the difference, especially because of...

Death Attack: If any attack of yours would reduce a target to 10 HP or less you may kill the target as a free action. At level 21 you may kill  a target when you reduce it to 15 HP instead. So what if I stole this from the Essentials assassin, and then made it better? It's a pretty flavorable (and powerful) ability. And really, who wants Essentials to be better?

Poison Adept: An assassin has sold his soul to the Shadowfell, and has gained power from it. His soul itself is death, and your body now oozes a black fluid that's deadly to whomever touches it. As a minor action you may make your next attack gain the poison keyword. If the attack used has the poison keyword already you get a +2 power bonus to the damage roll of the next attack. At level 11 increase this damage to +4, and at level 21 increase this damage to +6. Why have this? It makes the Venom Hand feat tree actually worthwhile now! The assassin should be a poisoner, it's built right into the idea of an assassin. So let's push that as far as possible. This makes the DPS the assassin deals without shrouds more potent, and allows us to get to the Death Attack that much quicker!

Assassin's Shroud: Finally, the ability that got the most tweaks. The Shroud is an awesome idea in theory, but in practice it could have done much much better. So I changed the flavor. Instead of putting "invisible shrouds" on your foe, you make your own shadow a creature of death.

Basically, Noob Saibot from MK9

So all the time spent "building up shrouds"? You're making your own shadow solid, so it can leap out and deal a huge attack when least expected! This is the essence of the Shroud ability, to catch someone so completely unawares you destroy them.

Change the range on Assassin's Shroud to Personal, and the target yourself. And then, change the first line of the second paragraph to this instead:

Before you make an attack roll against any target, you may choose to invoke either all of your shrouds or none of them. 

Add the following special:

Special:  When you invoke your shrouds and have all four of them your shroud dice become d10's instead of d6's and deals normal damage even on a miss. This includes minions.

All powers talking about the target of your shrouds must now be changed to any target. The assassin's only reason for not attacking from round to round is only that he has so few hit points that getting hit once will almost certainly bloody him (especially if he's been an annoyance before).

And we're still not done. More insult must be given to injury. Two of the At-Wills have to be modified, because they're essentially worthless. Make sure Inescapable Blade adds the assassin's dexterity modifier to the damage roll, and leaping shade does 2 extra damage for each shroud you've invoked, not 1 (and 4 extra damage per shroud at 21st level), and the assassin is mostly fixed. And by mostly fixed I mean some of the other powers aren't as great as they could be, but with those baseline fixes to the class the assassin is now a huge threat. I mean, huge. This is a guy who will be pinballing between all available targets to kill them with a deadly mix of poison, well-placed attacks, and his own shadow! The fact that he has such low HP is more of a thrill now, if you ask me! One good hit and you're dead. But the same is true of your target.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The City's Lights: The Decision to Be Better

As always, I would like to thank Clannad Central for all their lovely videos. Thanks, guys, for all your help with The School's Trees and now, with The City's Lights. It's much appreciated.


To me this is one of the most interesting clips from well... anything... I've ever watched. Most of it is just Tomoya complaining about how much life sucks, with a bit of advice that's spoken as much for him as it is for Nagisa. There's nothing really all that revolutionary about a bitter teenager complaining, really. But something really important does happen here. Tomoya meets Nagisa, and they make the decision to be better people.which is what the next few episodes are for. Tomoya and Nagisa attempt to break out of their respective funks, each in their own way.

ERHEM. In their own ways!!!

What I found so odd about these beginning episodes was how intentionally awkward the writers made Tomoya and Nagisa. Both of them had no real indication for romance at all, and it showed. The only thing really connecting the two of them is their shared moment. There isn't a magical "it all gets better" button. It's long and slow and arduous, and the two of them have to wrestle with their own inner crap to be able to make this decision. Ultimately, however, they both want to be better people, and that discontent with being less than what they can be is the thing keeping them together for the first four episodes of the show.

And then they meet Fuko.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


So Andy was very unhappy with the first The City's Lights posts. He said he was promised, and I quote "milk, cookies, and a sparkly-glowy Jar Jar Binks" (from Facebook). Since Andy's in Ohio and I'm in Kansas, I can't give him the milk and cookies, so HERE!


Ridiculous Search 3/22/12

Once again, it's that time of the week! The ridiculous search of the week is...

all boobs all the time!!!

... do I even have that phrase on my blog? Beyond this post?

A close runner-up was "awful ending", but two, yes, count'em, TWO people found my blog via "all boobs all the time" at the last second, and there we are.

What'll it be next week? I have no idea, I'll probably find out when you do!

The City's Lights: Introduction

If you've paid any amount of attention to this blog, then you'll know of my fanatical-obsessive love of the show Clannad. As a matter of fact, I love Clannad so much that was originally why I started blogging! So I went and started up my own Clannad-based blog. That blog, The School's Trees, very quickly turned into something I was genuinely proud of. Which is why, when it was done, I ended it. As an artist, I knew that thing was done and needed stay that way. So I did the only thing I thought would actually do the blog any credit. Now, granted, I've made a few posts on The Kitchen Sink that are a continuation of The School's Trees, but that blog ended a year ago. It's done.

So why am I starting another Clannad-related series of blog posts and reflections? Well, beyond the obvious nostalgia in covering Clannad, there are a few good reasons. First is that The School's Trees was a blog that I let be derailed by my own need for catharsis. The Week of Tears (where I covered all the key emotional scenes in Clannad in a single week) was not something I had in mind at the beginning of the show. I wanted the blog to be a bit more objective, but realized it was something I needed to write about. Other people needed to know what had happened, so I wrote about it. But that one thing derailed most of what I had in mind for my portion of the blog. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad I did it! I don't regret writing about my experiences with the last half of After Story in the least. But at the beginning of that blog I had made a goal: prove Clannad was a Catholic/Orthodox work. I don't think I did that. Oh, sure, I made a case for it at the end of the blog, but I don't think that was really the best job I could have done. So I'm going to try again.

The second reason is, again, a matter of pride: I don't think I did a very good job writing down my thoughts. When I re-read The School's Trees I saw how convoluted and jumbled it was, and that if people followed me at all it was probably in spite of myself. Disagree if you will. I'm not going to change my mind. I think I could do a better job.

The third reason? Well, it's more of a variation on the other two reasons, but different enough. I have something a bit different to say this time around, so I want to say it.

The reason for the name change is simple: it fits the theme of what I'm going to cover. Clannad is about approaching life together. It's about community and family. I can't think of a better way than calling it The City's Lights (OK, I suppose I could call it The Big Dango Family, but that's been done already!).

So buckle up, people. This is gonna get interesting... (hopefully not in the Firefly sense, but with Clannad you can never tell...)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Two Clannad-Related Announcements!

  1. All of Andy's (Carpe's) posts are up on this blog. They're under the tag "andy", so you can find them that way. I'll retrofit them with The School's Trees tag when it's not five minutes before class.
  2. I will definitely be starting another series of Clannad reflections, starting next week! I've had awhile to sit on the show, and I've got more to say. Yes, more. And, more importantly, it will not be called The School's Trees. The School's Trees is officially done. What'll it be? Find out next week...
Honestly, I can't wait! This is gonna be a blast...

Thoughts on Creating a High-Fantasy "Story-Based" Game

Everyone who plays DnD has played high fantasy. Y'know, the swashbuckling, heart and fist pumping,constant magic, awesomeness, etc., typa fiction. I was thinking about how to take the feel of high fantasy and make it more story and narrative-based. The first thing to do is to realize that the game will quickly fall into line for whatever you reward the most. What should a high fantasy game reward? Here's a few ideas.

High Risk-Reward Actions
Swinging off a chandelier to kick someone in the face, breaking the floor beneath a foe to temporarily knock him over, jumping down a monster's throat to shred his insides, etc. These are the types of things that people who are in a high fantasy story do often. Players should be rewarded for these types of decision that, while they're bone-headed in a low fantasy system, are the bread and butter of high fantasy.

Intertwined Plot and Action
I've always seen low fantasy as more character driven, because you're dealing with the failings of the world and how people deal with that. In low fantasy the plot must deal with characters being aware of the possibility of failure at every possible second, only to succeed anyway. High fantasy is much more akin to Gurrenn Lagann's "Who the hell do you think we are???" type of fiction: attempting the impossible and somehow getting away with it. The emphasis is in the amount of thought afforded to the odds.

Low fantasy? Dude, you'll spend forever making sure everyone doesn't die. Because they will.


It's like the difference between Halo and Mass Effect. In Halo you just go and kill the aliens. Mass Effect you have to slug through all the grunt work, getting people to overcome their inner foibles and such, otherwise you won't have the best type of ending. In Halo you just walk in and do it yourself. Character work must serve the action, not the other way around.

Gurren Lagann-Style Thought
... or lack thereof. A high fantasy RPG should reward those actions that you feel from your gut. Wanna just shoot the politician who's holding things up, give an awesome speech that'll convince all the people who were formerly against you, and lead them all to fight the big bad? In a high fantasy game you should be rewarded for those types of actions. That doesn't mean complications won't happen because of your boldness, quite the contrary! That'll screw up a LOT. The difference is that you'll make it awesome.

A Clear-Cut Resolution Mechanic
You cannot have a dice pool for a high fantasy game. Either the thing worked or it didn't. I'm not saying d20, but there can't be shades of gray in the feel of the mechanics either, which is something a dice pool models rather well.  

To sum up: high fantasy is all about the gut and the intuition. Obstacles are things to be overcome, setbacks are to be smashed through, and enemies are to either get out of the way or be defeated.

There, Carpe, there's my thoughts on a high-fantasy story game. Make an RPG inspired by Gurren Lagann!

Monday, March 19, 2012

An Idea for a 4e Houserule

4e: I was reading through ENWorld and read someone's idea on martial powers. He thought encounter and daily powers should only be available after "scanning" each foe. I think that's a cool idea, so here's a quick run-down on that.

Each martial character starts out with no access to any Encounter or Daily powers normally available to them at the start of an encounter.  Tally up how many Encounter and Daily powers you have, and assign a number to them.

As a minor action, you may examine an enemy for weak spots. When you do this, roll a dice large enough to contain all the encounter and daily powers you possess. Any numbers outside of this range are re-rolls. Whatever you roll is the encounter or daily power you may use on the target. Once used, that power is no longer available for future rolls. Each time you want another encounter or daily power, you must spend a minor action to randomly roll for it. You must be engaging a target each time.

Each time you roll on the table you get a +1 to attack and a +3/tier to damage until the end of your next turn.

Utility powers are untouched, regardless of power source.

Saint Raphael-Finished!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ridiculous Search (3/15/2012)

Sometimes people just surprise me, and I have no idea what the in the world to tell them. Sometimes, however, I know EXACTLY what to tell them. For instance, here's this week's Ridiculous Search.


Um, question, what the hell is wrong with you??? You want to take an anime and visual novel that's about the purity of love and make porn out of it? Don't get me wrong, the Clannad girls are cute and all, but wanting to see them naked, I think you sorta missed the point of Clannad entirely

It's about this.

 NOT about seeing Fuko naked. Or, in the case of a GIF, Tomoya having sex with one of the girls.


God, what a creepy idea.

So yeah, WAY TO FAIL.

Tune in next week, folks, where we'll find out how full of fail humanity is again!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Link I Want You All To Click On.

Here's my professional website. Please take a look, and comment on it!

Burning Wheel Review Part 5 (Final Part): Romeo, Juliet, and the Raksha

 So far I've run three playtests, two of which were written about on this blog. Over spring break I decided I wanted to run another playtest, this time with characters made by the players (no pregens). I told them the setting was "Romeo and Juliet gone worse", and to build 4 life-path human characters. I got some grumbles about being a racist bastard, but they relented when I told them I was the GM and they had to deal with it. Go authoritarian GMing!

Anyway, at the last second two more people joined in (literally for Mrs. Schmitty, she walked in the door!), so we had to use pre-gens for those two. We all sat down together, tossed a few ideas around, and generated a setting and backstory.

Backstory: 10 years ago Ellen Guelph disappeared. All rumors pointed to Marcus Redgate, but no conclusive evidence could be found, and so the case remained a mystery. Apollo Guelph, the head of the Guelph household, was more than convinced, however, and declared war on the Redgates. Over the ten years leading up to this session the one-sided conflict became a full-scale cold war, and the city of Venicea suffered as a result.

Player Characters

Saravon Redgate (Schmitty)- The third son of Marcus and Francesca Redgate. Since he's not the heir (or even the second-in-line), Marcus is relatively free to do what he likes, so he's taken up sorcery and a beautiful young fiance by the name of Catherine.

Ezio Guelph (Raphael)-  The brother of Apollo, head of a vineyard. Ezio has given up on getting revenge on the Redgates, and has taken his nephew, Antonio, in and has started to tutor him to take over the vineyard someday.

Livia Guelph (Mrs. Schmitty)- A young sorceress who is related to the Redgates by marriage to Saravon's older brother, Donald. She believes the Redgates are evil to the core and would like nothing more than to embarrass him.

Aragon (Naomi): Aragon is the bastard child of Francesca Redgate. He's on good terms with Saravon. Aragon hunts in the woods out of Venicea. Hunts in the nearby woods, and is good with a bow.

Ezio woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a crash. He ran outside to find two people running in his vineyard. As he watched, one of them tried to vault the wall and failed. The pursuer slashed her (judging from the scream) across the back, and both of them vaulted the wall and vanished. Ezio's nephew Antonio came running out of the house in a bathrobe, sword in hand, asking what was going on. After a few seconds of exchange Antonio runs out the vineyard, following the two mysterious figures. Ezio, correctly concluding that Antonio wouldn't be able to catch the two acrobatic trespassers in a bathrobe, shrugged and went back to bed.

Saravon Redgate woke up the next morning, to find his fiance Catherine in bed with him... suffering from a debilitating slash to her back. He woke her up, and she said they needed to talk. For the past month, she had been having an affair with Antonio Guelph. They were about to have another meeting last night at Antonio's room, when Saravon's father, Marcus, climbed in and started attacking them! The deep slash on Catherine's back was Marcus's work. She started crying, apologizing for her awful behavior, trying to explain that the affair meant nothing to her and that Saravon was the only one she could trust. Saravon simply told her that they would discuss it over breakfast, and got some bandages and alchemical agents to help her wound. He only found some sedatives, which would work in the short term, but she would need real healing sooner than later.

At about this point, Aragon snuck in  through the back door to see his mother, Francesca (since the rumor was that Marcus wasn't home). He spent a few minutes of chit-chat with Francesca, who asked him to kindly check the door leading to the roof. When he did, he found a trail of blood, and the door unlocked. He looked around the house, and poked his head into Saravon's room. The two of them had a short discussion about the whole "fiance in the bed" thing, and they agreed to discuss it more later.

Now my memory's fuzzy, because we danced around for a little while, but here's the gist of what happened in the middle.

  • Antonio admitted his affair to Ezio, who immediately began preparations to get his nephew out of town and into the country, with the possibility of Catherine joining him. 
  • Saravon used Mage Sense to see if Catherine was being magically controlled, and found a massively powerful enchantment on her. It was so powerful that he couldn't properly scan it, and realized he needed to test the enchantment later. He knew of no mage able to make this powerful of an enchantment.
  • Livia Guelph did a lot of the legwork in this part, gathering information on the Redgates for Ezio. She discovered that the Redgate house was up to something fishy in the criminal element, and that a lot of her former mage students had vanished after taking jobs from them. The ones who backed out had clammed up, and only after a few days of prying did she discover that there was a secret entrance to the Redgate residence in the sewers of the city.
  • Livia established contact with Saravon and Aragon, and convinced them to come with Catherine to Ezio's vineyard at night to see if Antonio had also been enchanted. 
  • When they got there, it became abundantly clear that Antonio was not enchanted. He was just young, dumb, and horny. They also learned that the enchantment placed on Catherine made her seek out Antonio to have sex with him whenever he was within a certain radius. 
That's when it began to rain like a monsoon, and Saravon was forced to shut his Mage Sense off. The rain was magical in nature, and so overpowering that Saravon couldn't afford to scan anymore. Someone knocked on Ezio's door, and he went to answer it.

He got the briefest glimpse before a vampiric Ellen Guelph punched clear acrost the room. Behind her came up Marcus Redgate, grinning broadly. He announced that the ten-year wait was over, and that the town would be "theirs" tonight. My players didn't want to use the extended Fight! rules, and elected for a Bloodied Versus against the vampyr. Aragon led the fight with his bow, and with a bit of aid from his friends chased the vampyr off. Marcus jeered at them, telling them that it was no use. The town was doomed. The rain that was falling would send everyone into a killing frenzy, and there was nothing they could do. Marcus openly proclaimed his part in the affair of Antonio and Catherine, proclaiming that it was just a bit more fun for him to inflict on the two families before they all died in a frenzy of angry townsfolk. Saravon (correctly) pointed out that Marcus had no spellcasting ability, so how did he get away with all of this?

Francesca Redgate walked into the room and announced her part in the tragedy.

She had been the one to turn Ellen Guelph into a vampyr, and had done the nuts-and-bolts work required to get the rain working.

Aragon stared, in shock, as his beloved mother began to tell him that all of them were being messed with for sheer amusement. This was a side project. Ezio's respones was to run up to Marcus and hit him in the face with a warhammer. I handed them the Fight! sheets and told them they weren't getting out of this one. They groaned, but decided to try it. Saravon pulled off the luckiest of lucky moves, and "critted" with the Shards spell, maiming Marcus right out the gate. Ezio very swiftly did the same to Francesca with his warhammer, and she surrendered. They begged that their lives be spared, that they didn't want to go back to hell. Ezio knocked off Marcus's head as his response. Everyone froze in horror.

Marcus's head had transformed into a tiger's head.So had Marcus's body.

Ezio stared at this a moment, and then killed Francesca. Her body also turned into a tiger's. Saravon recognized what they were now: Raksha, demon spirits from hell who played on the misfortune and inner turmoil of other sentient beings. They were the best at sewing discord. And, as they looked out the window at the rain, he realized they'd done their job admirably.

Everyone went under the Redgate residence (thanks to a few water-sealed barrels of Ezio's), and found miles upon miles of interconnected catacombs, filled with rotting corpses of tortured victims. At the very bottom of this heinous complex they found a statue to a god they did not recognize, nor did they want to. They destroyed the statue, and the rain stopped. But by then, Venicea was in shambles.

And with that, my last playtest is complete. My mind, assuming that it wasn't made up already (it was), is made up. Burning Wheel is exactly what I want in a game, down the scripting of actions ahead of time. The use of relationships was the finishing touch for me. All the NPC's listed in this blog post were made up by the players, along with what influence they would have on the story. If anything, I didn't use them all!

In short, Burning Wheel is an amazing game. I heartily recommend it to any and all people who want a good story in their RPGs.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ridiculous Search (This Is Going to Become a Thing)

I've decided each and every week to post the number one search that directed people to my blog that amuses me. Every Thursday these posts will come out, from now on!



To the person who found this blog via that search.... welcome aboard?

Gankutsuo: The Count of Monte Cristo

OK, so in short: I liked it. A lot. A hell of a lot. Here's the break down:

The Good

  • The story. Holy crap. 
  • The characters. Again, holy crap.
  • The art style. I know some people will really hate it, but I love it. It's AWESOME.
  • I have not read the book, but I liked this thing so much I went out and bought it.
The Bad
  • World exposition. Why do I care that the Empire and Earth are at war again? Oh wait, I don't? What a pity.
  • ANYTHING WITH A MECH. These scenes suck, because they don't really fit with the art style of the rest of the anime. Oh, and they're just awful, period.
  • THE OPENING. Good Lord that thing is awful.
  • The last episode. Totally unnecessary.
  • The fact that Albert ALMOST starts acting like Shinji Ikari. That made me a bit mad.
Oh,  go masturbate over Asuka's body some more, ya wuss!
The Ugly
  • This a pretty inspirational story, really. The second to last episode really showed me something I wanted to do in a novel some day.
Despite the fact that my "Bad" list is longer than my "Good" list, I really really like this anime. What it does well it does really well, whereas the bad things aren't really that important. Ultimately, I'd definitely recommend it. Watch this anime if you can. Put up with the art style if you can, because the story is more than worth it. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Another Addition to Burning Star Wars: XP to Leveling

Whoever's idea it was to make XP, it wasn't mine!

I hate experience points. They're just numbers that do nothing until you get a certain number of them, which you get just for showing up! But if the gameplay is good enough, you should want to show up anyway!

Which is why Artha is an AWESOME system, because it rewards people for fulfilling their Beliefs and making a story! So why not link up the Force Points from my previous blog post to character advancement? Those, along with the Destiny points already present in Saga Edition, should be all the rewards anyone will ever need. Add in Action Points from 4e, and you have a very robust system. 

You level up when you spend 5 Force Points, 3 Action Points, and one Destiny Point. They need not be all spent in the same session.

A FURTHER CLARIFICATION AND ADDITION: You get your initial Force Points (divided up between Light and Dark) from your class, as stated in the SAGA edition rulebook. You get one Action Point at the beginning of the game, and are given more based upon the fulfillment of your Beliefs, at GM and the table's discretion, as per Burning Wheel rules. Since you get rewarded Force Points for fulfilling Beliefs as well, you'll find that this makes for a very adrenaline-pumping game.

GMs should make sure that villains get Force and Action Points in the same way the players do, to keep the original balance of the game intact. After all, why should the heroes get all the fun? Regular monsters and NPC's shouldn't have Action Points, however. Each Stormtrooper being able to pull off an Action Point? Gosh, that would be awful for the characters!

While not yet playtested, that looks like an amazing system. I can't wait to try it at some point! Comment if you do try it, and let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Three Shows I'm in the Middle of Watching

So here's what I'm up to, TV show-wise. These aren't reviews;  I'm not finished with these shows. This is more of what I'm enjoying at the moment. I'm only about 6-8 episodes in on all these shows, so it's not like I have a full idea of what these shows are about, or if they're even good all the way through. I just wanna share the cool stuff I'm watching, hence the blog post.

The anime adaptation of the Count of Monte Cristo is incredibly gripping, with lots of twists and turns to make the show more than entertaining. So entertaining, in fact, that I bought the book at a used book sale! Now I know its not entirely faithful, but if the anime is a tenth as awesome as the book... I look forward to finishing both.

Oh, and the art style is awesome. It's divisive, but I'm one of the people who'll swear by their presentation.

How in the blue hell is this show 74 episodes long?? I'm about 6 episodes in, and these sorts of plots are... NOT 74 episodes long??? I don't get it. I genuinely don't. A story about a good doctor who accidentally heals a serial killer doesn't last this long...


Looks like I'm hopelessly hooked anyway. God, this show is awesome.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Admittedly, this show doesn't rank in the same type of awesome as these other two shows, but that doesn't stop Avatar from being cool in its own way. The fire benders are, by far, the most interesting characters in the show as of episode 8. Now to just find out why the chief fire bender's such a prick. All in due time.

S'yeah, those are the shows I'm watching the at the moment. I think they're pretty awesome so far and, by the general reviews I've heard from my friends, they end pretty well too. Will they? Some day I'll write a full review.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Interesting Blog Post on Star Wars

This is pretty cool. It actually makes me want to watch the episodes all over again, in this order. Hell, even episodes 2 and 3. I'll have to try it some day with any future children I might have (although I'll definitely test it first).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Situational Blindness Season 1, Part 1: Meeting Everyone

WARNING: This game is not... age appropriate. It includes instances of manipulation, rape, devils, contracts gone wrong, murder, child abuse, and all sorts of unpleasant things. The world is a dark place But it also includes people who want to go above all that. There are heroes. Please keep that in mind as you read through.Otherwise you might get depressed and/or offended. For those of you who want the list of characters before-hand, click here.

When I first started this game, it did not start as a 4th edition game, but as a playtest for the Journey System, a game system that Carpe and I were working on at the time. I pitched this game as story-intensive dark fantasy at the RRPG club, where about 30 gamers had gathered. Given that I was completely new at Benedictine I mostly got blank looks, and most people avoided the game in favor of DMs they knew. But four brave souls signed up after some prodding from Kurlacker, who had played with me before and gave me some high compliments. One of them couldn't play for a few weeks, and one dropped out almost immediately due to illness. So that left two people. I had them draw up characters, Vladmir and Char.

The two of them woke up in a dungeon, without any knowledge of how they got there. Vladmir couldn't remember anything at all, whereas Char remembered exactly who he was: a prophet of the god Bane, who would conquer the world. While Vladmir had some intuitive idea that this wasn't someone who he didn't spend his time around, the two agreed to a truce until they could figure out what was going on. They traveled the dungeon, fighting goblins they encountered. The place was dank and overgrown with vines. They found some vines thickly growing out of an alcove and, climbing up Zelda-fashion, they entered the tunnel. That's when the vines moved, and they realized the vines were actually hair for a monster! They set fire to the vines, and ran like hell. The place shook, and the vines attacked them. They didn't stop for anything, especially not the puny little goblins who were trying to get out as well. They found a spiral staircase and ran up it, exiting out of an old and run down castle.

They didn't look back.

After a few weeks we had another session, but we switched over to 4th edition at this point, because Andy and I didn't have the time to devote to a Monster Manual, which was sorta necessary for me to run the game. I hadn't thought about just winging it, but oh well.

As Vladmir and Char traveled the lands, they encountered a group of goblins. After a stiff fight (as I attempted to teach them 4th edition), they killed the vast majority of the goblins.

Aaaaand.... right about here my player base sorta exploded. Not only did the player who couldn't play immediately show up, but so did three more people! The group jumped from two to six overnight.

Vladmir and Char traveled to the nearest city, the goblin town of Billi. On the way there, they found a bunch of elves attacking goblin women and children. Even though Char didn't particularly care, he wished to have the option to exploit the women and children and later, so he joined in with Vladmir to fight the elves. A group of 4 adventurers who were also traveling to Billi stopped and helped. They were Gant, Talnor, Poultrin, and another character I just cannot remember the name of right now. She dropped out within a few sessions. Anyway, the fight was really on. Gant only joined in because it was quite obvious the elves were in the wrong, and he didn't want to be pinned as an elven supremacist.

Anyway, after a fight on the bridge the elves were killed. The goblin women and children thanked their saviors, commenting that they were waiting for their husbands, who had left the day before in the same general direction that Vladmir and Char had come from! With horror, Vladmir realized he had slaughtered the husbands and fathers of this group!

At this point, it was made pretty clear in out of game talk that Gant was a sick character. The player joked about how Gant heard dark voices in his head. All of a sudden I got a text from Gant's player:

"What do the voices say?"

I paused a moment. I thought through the full ramifications, and figured that if I was gonna go dark, I was gonna go dark. My text read as such:

"Impregnate an elvish woman."

He laughed. I realized I had someone who may have some issues. Oh well, it would make for an interesting game, if nothing else! (For the record, the guy who plays Gant is a really nice guy who sometimes has a sick sense of humor. I don't have an actual sociopath in my game, so don't worry...)

The party had left one elf alive, whom they "convinced" to give up the location of their hideout: an abandoned keep to the south (NOT in the direction of the falling apart castle) Gant, being the only one with stealth, snuck in before all them and lit up their kerosene barrels and, with a little bit of improvisation, killed everyone in the tower.

Except for one particularly beautiful elf, whom he teleported into the flames to save her. He covered her mouth, and told her that he was a servant of the Raven Queen, and that she had a destiny bound to his. She was to serve him for the rest of her days. The elf nodded, eyes wide with panic. Gant took out his knife and carved the letter "A" into her shoulder. She didn't whimper. He covered up the mark with her shirt, and told her to tell no one of it.

The rest of the party came running in just a minute later, having heard the explosion. They asked who the girl was, and Gant replied he had saved her from being despoiled by the bastards, hence the explosion. They asked the girl, who could only reply "A". Poultrin fell head-over-heels in love with the girl from the moment he saw her, and (since he had the Heal skill), attempted to check for injuries.

Yeah, he rolled a nat 1.

Instead of fixing her up, Poultrin unwittingly deeply scratched the "A" in the elf's arm. She screamed, and ran away. The party followed, and found the A marked into her arm. They tried to apply some herbs so it wouldn't scar, but the elf refused, and even rubbed dirt into the wound, pointing at herself and saying "A" the entire time. Vladmir looked suspiciously at Gant, but kept his mouth shut for the moment.

Until the next day, when they woke up and found Gant and A missing.

Situational Blindness: Players

Situational Blindness is many things, but it's not simple. This is a game that's gone on to it's 3rd semester, and has been filled to bursting with people who all wanted to cause trouble. They all got their wish. Even the ones who didn't wish it got it. But, before I can start, I need to outline all the characters who are in this dark tale. Things change so quickly from time to time that I think a general guideline is absolutely necessary, so I have provided it.

 I have plans to either end Situational Blindness this semester or next semester. It's my longest running (and thus far, most successful) game, and I've had a blast with it. Fortunately, so have they (for the most part). And it honestly wouldn't have worked without  any of the following crazy bastards.

Vladmir: (Season 1-2.5) Vladmir is a human paladin. Eleven years ago, Vladmir was a famer, married to an eladrin lady who wanted to run away from the bureaucracy and depraved religion of the elves. One day Vladmir found a dying man in his fields, who gave him an incredible gift: a shard of the god Bahamut.The shard was not meant to be given to an untrained initiate, however, and Vladmir lost his memory.

Char: (Season 1) Char is an invoker of Bane. His actual name is forgotten. The name indicates he's of the Char race from Guild Wars.

Poultrin: (Season 1) Poultrin was an elf warlord who became an elf invoker later on in the story. Little is known of his backstory other than that, but all you need to know at the moment is he is the most influential person in this story. There are lots of "almost's" (Gant, Didier, and Thade come to mind), but pound for pound no one has influenced the game like Poultrin has. Why? Stay tuned ;)

Gant Arro: Shift the name around, and you'll get the essence of the character ;) Gant is a sociopathic eladrin rogue who wants to destroy all the goblins he can find, but only because he wants his own race, the already-powerful-and-in-control-of-an-empire elves, to become stronger. Ba

Thade: (Season 1-2) Thade is a drow bard who later became a seeker MC'ed into Beastmaster Ranger. Thade was a slave (the drow are slaves to the other elven races in this world) who fell in love with Ila Merinbourne, the daughter of his master. They decided to run away and get married, and have been hunted by the Merinbourne's ever since.

Ila Merinbourne: (Season 1-2) Ila Merinbourne is an eladrin cleric, and a damned good one. I can't remember a single session where spending one healing surge due to her Healing Word didn't recover at least half health. Granted, she's a pacifist. But still. Anyway, she fell in love with Thade and the two ran off, trying to find a place where the two of them could live together in peace.

Talnor: (Season 1, shows up as a guest from time to time in other seasons) Talnor is a monk who left who left his monastery to see the world. Meeting up with this group is about the last thing anyone would expect (or want).

Didier: (Seasons 1-3) Dider is an elven ranger with a starting Constitution of 9. The fact that he survived so long was... a mystery. You'll see why when we get there. Anyway, Didier was originally put into the party to kill Vladmir. Just be a bit patient.

Nicell: (Seasons 2.5-present) Shardmind battlemind, who became a runepriest later. Nicell is yet another amnesiac who is looking for something I can't talk about in this post right now.

Garrett (Seasons 2.5-present) Halfling Rogue. Garrett was an orphan, who was hired by the Royal Guard for his skills at stealth and sniping. More than that I cannot say.

Gore: (Season 3-present) Child drow who heard dark voices and gained the ability to blow things up. All you need to know at this point.

Eela: (Season 3-present) A hammadryad Bard, who was just introduced, so we don't have much beyond that at the moment.

Valanae: (Season 2-present) An eladrin Psion. She was friends with Vladmir's wife (and was one of Vladmir's babysitters when he was younger!), and also fell in love with a human, who died due to circumstances you'll find out about later.

Grarg: (Season 1) A half-orc barbarian who was in it for shits and giggles.

I think that's it. If not, I'll add more later.