Monthly Archives: December 2015

Spellbinder, a Pathfinder RPG Base Class in Two Paragraphs and One Sentence.

Spellbinder: A spellbinder is a powerful spellcaster that can manipulate and adjust spells on the fly, producing magic effects more powerful than other spellcasters of the same experience. Use hit dice, proficiencies, class skills, base attack, base saves, starting wealth, and starting age as a wizard, and 4 skill points per class level. The spellbinder casts spells as a wizard, with the following exceptions. The spellbinder does not need a spellbook – while the spellbinder takes the same time and cost and skill checks to learn a spell as a wizard does to scribe it into a spellbook, and the spellbinder succeeds the spell is known and can be prepared without referring to any other source. The spellbinder prepares two spells in every spell preparation slot, but can only cast one of them (selected when the spell is cast). The spellbinder gains four spells known when gaining a class level (rather than the two spells known of a wizard). The spellbinder can select spells from the druid or wizard spell lists for these four spells known, and can learn spells from alchemist formula books and wizard spellbooks. The spellbinder treats his class spell list as including all wizard spells, and any alchemist extract or druid spell he knows.

At 1st level and every level thereafter, the spellbinder gains a bonus metamagic feat. These metamagic feats cannot increase the spell slot of spells cast with them by more than half the spellbinder’s class level (minimum 1). A spellbinder cannot prepare spells with metamagic feats, but instead adds them later using a metamagic pool. A spellbinder has a number of points in his metamagic pool equal to half his class level (minimum 1) plus his Intelligence modifier (to a maximum of half his level, minimum 1). When a spellbinder casts a spell he may add a metamagic feat (as if a spontaneous spellcaster) by spending a number of points from his metamagic pool equal to the additional spell levels required by the metamagic added (minimum of 1 metamagic point per metamagic feat added, and to a maximum spell adjustment equal to 1/3 her caster level – minimum of 1). A spellbinder cannot add metmagic feats to a spell if she lacks the metamagic points to cover it’s spell level adjustment.

The spellbinder gains no other class features. #QuickBaseClass

Storytime: One Wedding and a Funeral

Sometimes, everything comes at you at once.

Virago, a Pathfinder RPG Base Class in Two Paragraphs and One Sentence.

Virago: Viragoes are skilled combatants who focus on victory through cooperation and wise decisions. Though able to fight valiantly on her own, a virago is at her best when she has tools and allies to direct to the defeat of her foes. Because most of the cultures that commonly train viragoes treat men and women equally, many scholars of more patriarchal lands claim viragoes are exclusively female, though this is untrue. Use hit dice and base attack bonus as a fighter. Use the base saves, class skills, skill points/level, starting wealth, and starting as a skald. At 1st level the virago gains a Wise Bond. This may be a mount (as the cavalier class feature, using her virago level as her cavalier level), the ranger favored terrain class feature (gaining an additional terrain and +2 bonus to any one favored terrain at 5th and every 4 levels thereafter), a bond with her hunting companions (as the hunter’s bond ranger class feature), or a druidic animal/terrain domain (with granted spells gained from the domain cast once per day as spell-like abilities). Also at first level she gains the ability to declare a specific foe a favored enemy as a standard action (as the ranger class feature) but with a +1 bonus. It remains a favored enemy until killed or 24 hours, whichever comes first. She can do this a number of times per day equal to 3 + her Wisdom bonus, and the bonus increases by +1 at 5th level, and every 5 levels thereafter.

At 2nd level, the virago gains the cavalier’s tactician class feature. She gains an additional bonus teamwork feat, and an additional use per day of this ability, at 4th level and every even level thereafter. At 3rd level she gains the inquisitor’s solo tactics class feature. At 5th level she can use tactician as a move action. At 7th level she can change her more recent teamwork feat (as the inquisitor teamwork feat class feature). At 9th level tactician’s range expands to 60 feet. At 11th level she can use tactician as a swift action. At 13th level she can change her last two most recent teamwork feats. At 15th level tactician applies to any ally able to see and hear her. At 17th level she can use tactician to grant any two teamwork feats she knows. A Virgo is treated as being trained in Use Magic Device at 3rd level (with a skill check of class level + Wisdom bonus) and meets prerequisites as if she had ranks equal to her class level. At 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th level she gains a bonus Item mastery feat (for which she must meet the prerequisites). A number of times per day equal to her Wisdom bonus, she may use an Item mastery feat without it counting against her maximum uses per day of that feat. At 20th level, she can use Item mastery feats as swift actions.

The virago gains no other class features. #QuickBaseClass

Top 30 Geek Cursewords

And yes, #1 is Frak. But if you want to broaden your use of dorky explitives beyond “dork,” here are 29 other geeky cursewords to go with frak, each with an example usage and notes on origin.
Of course, now I’ve told you what #1 is.

“We’re going to take one in the wrinklies now!”
From Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series; refers to testicles/balls ‑ both literally & figuratively.

29. Hab SoSlI’ Quch!

“Oh yeah? Well Hab SoSlI’ Quch!”

From Klingon “Your Mother has a smooth forehead.”

 28. Daggers

“Since you are late, you get no lunch.” “Daggers!”

An exclamation, from Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire

27. Semprini

“Don’t be a semprini!”

From Monty Python’s Flying Circus television show. Never exactly defined, this is one of the words supposedly banned from the show. Used to refer to a part of the body, but is also the name of an aftershave.

26. Meps

“I’m in serious trouble! Meps!”

A call of frustration and consternation, from Coneheads.

25. Zarking Fardwarks

“What in the name of zarking fardwarks is the old fool doing?”

From The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; seems to be a substitute for “fuck”; possibly a blasphemy on the Great Prophet Zarquon

24. Great Googley Moogely

“You misspelled “pharaoh” on the back cover in the last editing pass.” “Great… gooley moogley.”

From a Snickers commercial. Replaces “Oh My God.”

23. Joojooflop

“One whole joojooflop situation”

From The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

22. Thoddo

“You… HUGE… thoddo!”

From Farscape; same meaning as “idiot.” Also acceptable: fahrbot, greebol.

21. Poodoo

“You smell like Bantha poodoo.”

From various Star Wars sources. Apparently used as a Huttese version of “shit”. Commonly used to reference the excrement of the bantha herd animal.

20. Sprock

“Oh, sprock it!”

From the Legion of Super Heroes comics. Mainly as a substitute for “fuck”

19. Rassin‑frassin

“You rassin-frassing kids stay off my lawn!”

From Hanna‑Barbera’s Jetsons & Flintstones a derogatory adjective of some kind. Possible corruption of the German curse “Ratzen‑Fressen” or “Rat Eating/Eater.” Also uttered by Yosemite Sam in Warner Bros cartoons.

18. Boll‑yotz

“That’s some boll-yotz, right there.”

From Farscape; same meaning as “bullshit”

17. Shards

“I burned my tongue on hot soup! Shards!”

From Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern novels. Used as a substitute for “shit”, but apparently refers to the shell of a broken dragon egg.


“I stubbed my tow! Thrackazog!” (For use when towing something that could be stubbed.)

The name of an extra-dimensional being from The Tick. Rhymes with “Three yaks and a dog” and “laxative log.”

15. Feldercarb

“He said he wasn’t cheating on me, and I called feltercarb!”

Functions as both “shit” and “bullshit.” From the original Battlestar Galactica.

14. Shazbot

“Hey, you have to work on Christmas.”   “Shazbot!”

Orkian exclamation of consternation, from Mork and Mindy.

13. Tanj

“I just found I have to work on Christmas. Tanj it!”

Stands for “There Ain’t No Justice.” A generic expletive coined by author Larry Niven.

12. Bleep

“I hit my hand with a hammer! Bleep it!”

From Larry Niven’s Known Space stories; the bleep used to censor profanity eventually turned into a swearword itself.

11. Grud

“Oh. My. Grud!”

From 2000AD’s Judge Dredd. A general expletive, though also used as a substitute for “God”

 10. Great Zot!

“It’ll cost $600 to fix your car.” “Great Zot!”

From the B.C. comic strip; same as “Good God!”

9. Yotz

“What the yotz?!”

From Farscape, an exclamation of unpleasant surprise. Same usage as “hell”.

8. Nerfherder

“You small-minded nerfherder!”

Often used in Star Wars as a relatively un‑offensive curse word. It’s like asshole or shithead but far weaker.

7. Drek

“You useless, drek‑for‑brains, moron. We’re in deep drek now!”

An alternate spelling of dreck, yiddish for dirt or filth. Popularized by the Shadowrun game.

6. Smurf

“Go smurf yourself, you smurfing smurfhole.”

From the Adventures of the Smurfs animated series.

5. E chu ta

“Hello! Have you ever considered your place in the afterlife?” “E chu ta.”

Seems to function as “go screw yourself.” From Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. It’s rude Huttese.

4. Frell

“You Frelling moron!”

An interjection used in the series Farscape. Essentially means “frak.”

3. Smeg

“Smeg you, you smegging smegwipe.”

A fiction interrogative created on Monty Python, and popularized on the show Red Dwarf. These two events may be unrelated.

2. Meecrob

“Oh, this is complete meecrob!”

A Thai crunchy noodle dish with a sauce often not to western taste. Used as a curse on South Park.

1. Frak

“This is badly frakked up!”

The current #1 Geek Curse, from both Battlestar Galactica series, and adopted by numerous other television shows, comics, and books.

Nazar, a Pathfinder RPG Base Class in 2 paragraphs + 1 sentence.

Nazar: The nazar is a base class that learns to fight with her helgaze, a psychic assault on the very existence of her enemies using power drawn from the fiendish planes. Though not necessarily evil, nazar are mistrusted for their use of power drawn from the realms of divs and qlippoth. Use hit dice, base attack, base saves, proficiencies, skill points/level, starting wealth, and starting age as a ranger. Use the inquisitor’s class skills. The nazar is a psychic spellcaster that gains spells known and spells per day as a bloodrager of the same level, but drawn from the psychic, sorcerer/wizard, and witch spell lists. However, the nazar can only select rays and spells that make ranged attacks against specific targets and can only cast them against the current target of her helgaze. (A nazar can select a spell that is a touch attack against a single creature, but must do so as a spell one level higher and treats it as having the Reach metamagic.) She uses Charisma to determine spell saves and max spell level.
At 1st level the nazar gains a helgaze, which functions as the mesmerist’s hypnotic stare class feature with the following changes: the penalty can be applies to any one category of saving throw (as determined by the nazar when the ability is used); it is a true gaze attack (and can be avoided as such); it is not a mind-affecting ability; the target receives a saving throw against the helgaze (of the same type it applies a penalty to, DC 10 + 1/2 nazar level + Cha modifier), but this save is made with the helgaze’s penalty; a creature that saves against a nazar’s helgaze can’t be have the same saving throw category affected by that nazar’s helgaze for 24 hours. At 2nd level the nazar gains the painful stare class feature, applied to her helgaze, and treats her nazar level as her mesmerist level for prerequisites relating to hypnotic stare. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the nazar gains either a bold stare (though no bold stare can apply a penalty to the same save category the nazar’s helgaze is penalizing) or a stare feat (for which the nazar meets the prerequisites); alternatively the nazar may choose to gain the misfortune hex (which can only be used on the target of her helgaze).
The nazar gains no other class features. #QuickBaseClass

Full Disclosure

So, I really like my old Top Ten Lists, many of which I originally posted a decade or so ago on LiveJournal. Most people have never seen them, and most of those who have don’t remember them. They do, however, need updating. Pop culture references don’t always remain relevant, my writing has (thankfully) improved over the years…

… and some of them are sexist.

And others racist, homophobic, transphobic, bigoted, and generally intolerant or hurtful.

Of course I never intended to be bigoted. And I never thought of them as sexist or otherwise when I wrote them. That’s the pervasive, insidious part of bigotry: it’s so common and ingrained in the fabric of the many things I absorb that building off what has come before often means repeating the form and function of bigotry I don’t see. Bigotry not pointed at me, and thus difficult for me to notice.

But in re-reading things I wrote purely for comedic effect many moons ago? I find assumptions about gender roles that aren’t balanced or healthy, casual reductions of women to objects to be won or earned rather than people, stereotypes needlessly repeated as shorthand for real description or development, and ignorant assumptions put forward as obvious truth.

This hit me hardest while updating Top Ten Signs You’ve Wandered Into an Adventure That’s Too High Level For You. If someone had sent that to me for feedback, I’d have been sure to let them know it was so filled with bigoted representations as to be inappropriate for publication.

I have, of my own free will and because creatively I feel it is the right thing to do, changed all of those issues (that I am aware of) in the revision. Not only do I not think a derivative and casual comedy post on my private blog isn’t worth hurting anyone over; not only do I never want to marginalize any part of my (tiny) audience with anything I write; I find the gag is (at least, to me) funnier without the baggage I didn’t even see the first time I wrote it.

I try to have standards. I AM willing to sacrifice quality to meet them. But, so far, I’ve never felt anything I produced was less interesting, less useful, or had its integrity weakened by asking “have I included bigotry I didn’t mean to? Will this cause harm in ways I haven’t considered?”

So, I want to both discuss this issue in case there are other folks who have looked back and cringed at what they wrote, AND to public apologize to those I have done wrong in my writing in the past.

Making mistakes is to be human. owning up to them and being better is to be a good human.

Top Ten Signs You’ve Wandered into an Adventure That’s Too High-Level For You

Let’s face it, sometimes your characters bite off more than they can chew, and the GM isn’t going to warn you. So here are some warning signs that the adventure you’re on is for characters of a much higher level.

10. You run into a band of kobolds… with vorpal swords, the Loc Nar, a simple gold ring that renders one of them invisible, a three-bladed sword, Harry Potter’s wand, and the Glaive from Krull.

9. When the name of the adventure is revealed, the GM’s roommate screams in terror and starts to cry.

8. Prior to playing the GM requires you sign a waiver written by Gary Gygax and some troll named “Grimtooth.”

7. The proffered reward actually sounds valuable enough to be worth risking your life.

6. After a full week of effort utilizing every skill, spell, tool, magic item and tactic at your disposal… you still can’t get the dungeon’s front door open.

5.Monsters refer to you as “lawn trash,” and don’t bother to kill you or take your loot, since it’s not worth their time.

4. You don’t know the name of the evil wizard you’re supposed to kill, but he rides Ancalagon, carries Callandor, and has Elminster as a maid.

3. You suffer a Total Party Kill. In the first encounter of the adventure. Which was just looking at the treasure map in the tavern where you got hired.

2. Thor, God of Thunder, is on the random monster table. As the result “07-13.”

1. A ferocious beast that takes your whole party three hours of balls-to-the-wall combat to defeat, taking all your spare resources, turns out to be a familiar. Of a henchman. Who works for a cohort. Of the main villain’s shieldbearer.

STORYTIME: Why my Friend John bought me a New Microwave

A game night.
Popcorn in a bag.
A microwave that wasn’t up to code…

The End of an Era

AFK Elixirs & Eatery​ closes forever this Sunday.
The owners of the building have sold it, the new owners aren’t renewing the lease. This is sudden, and nothing could have avoided it.
I alluded to this earlier in the week. This is the massive blow to my equilibrium, the loss of something that has really come to define who I am as a Seattle resident.
I  cannot overstate how crucial the AFK E&E has been for me. When I moved, I was floundering. I don’t adjust well to new social situations, I’m an introvert, a depressive, and I suffer social anxiety. I was leaving my family and friends, gaming groups that have run for 30 years, and support networks I hadn’t realized were propping me up and keeping me sane.
The E&E replaced all of that. It gave me a save sanctuary, where I was never judged, always welcome, and never felt out-of-place.
A safe place, for geeks and gamers, just like it said on the sign
It has been the center of my social life. My living room, clubhouse, office, and therapists couch. I spend holidays and birthdays there, and many of my best new friends are owners and staff.
And now, it has just two days left before it is gone for good.
I’ll be there this evening, and again tomorrow night. I’ll play games, hoist glasses, and shed tears.
My eternal thanks to the owners and staff, who are impacted in ways much more serious than my psychological loss. You all made me feel like a king, in a world where I am often treated like a leper.
I love you all.

Diesel Pulp US Walkers


Diesel Pulp US Walkers a1

I’m making progress on my US walkers for Diesel Pulp.

The S4a1, a2, and a3 Mulholland Medium Walkers were among the most common walkers in the First Global War, and the US manufactured more than 50,000 of them. Originally conceived as an all-purpose armor unit, its ability to match German units — Gautaz Light Walkers and the Teiwaz Medium walker — when put into service by the British in 1942 lead American military planners to believe no heavier armor unit was required. However, by the middle of the Global War it was clear the mech’s light armament and thin armor could not compete with newer Wotan and Donar Medium Walkers, or even the Russian K34 Medium Walker. Though clearly more powerful than any light walker, it was often called “The lightest of the medium-weights.” Its stability and long-term combat staying power were second-to-none, but it simply wasn’t a match for mid- and late-war Medium walkers. Luckily, it was mass produced in vast numbers, so rarely was a single Mulholland tasked with taking an enemy Medium tank 1-on-1.
When the S26 Garland began production in 1944, many Mulhollands were retrofit as variants, and thousands continued to be produced as off-the-line variants. The Torchie flamethrower-variant was among the most common, designed to supplement combined arms attacks against fortifications, urban settings, or heavy infantry. Other late-war Mulhollands were converted to engineering walkers, walker recovery vehicles, self-propelled artillery, experimental weapon platforms, and mech hunters (with much heavier guns and open turrets).
The British successfully adapted the Mulholland to carry their heavy 17-pounder anti-armor gun, and the upgunned “Mulholland Wasp” was among the most popular walkers among British armor crews.

While disagreements about proper walker battle doctrine (especially the role of mech hunters and medium and heavy walkers) delayed the production of the S26 Garland until 1944, it quickly proved extremely effective in battle. Unlike the Mulholland, the Garland was heavy even for a Heavy Walker (and some historians claim it should properly be classified as a Superheavy Walker), and its two most common main armaments — a 90mm gun or a 1.21g Tesla cannon — remained effective against enemy armor for the duration of the war.