Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Grand Arena of Solstice

The Grand Arena in the city of Solstice is build around the largest Astrologos Configuration, which also happens to be the site where the God-Mage attempted his assault on Heaven. Every day at dusk the Configuration spawns powerful Ravening Beasts, which immediately attempt to break out of the arena grounds and head for the Widderlands. As with any Configuration there are also specific summoning events during various conjunctions, and two full guilds of astrologers are employed full-time to examine the Configuration and predict when other Events will occur.
Since nonstop diligence, constant study, and a sizable military force must be maintained at all time, the Arena was built to allow the needful acts of putting down the Ravenings to double as major entertainment, to bring in money to offset the cost of safety. Usually the two astrologer guilds are fairly accurate about the type and power of the Ravengings to appear, though specifics are rarely available, and thus gladiators who are sufficient to deal with each threat are always on hand (without needing to keep a group any bigger or more expensive than necessary on the field). Of course the Arena includes Skywards to ensure nothing can fly away and Earthwards to prevent anything from burrowing off. And the Solstice Guard keep a few siege machines manned at all times, to deal with Ravenings if the gladiators fail their task.
In addition to making money from the Solstones dropped by any Ravenings they kill, gladiators often receive money from sponsors and patrons, and may make some sideline betting on themselves. A fair number of gladiators are also adventurers, though the most successful gladiators consider delving into the megadungeons around and below Solstice a pointless risk, and the most successful dungeon delvers consider simple arena combat unlikely to result in the truly history-changing discoveries.

Top Ten Spin-Ups!

Okay… so what is a Spin-Up?
It’s a Spin-Off of two shows that is a Mash-Up of their stories and genres that begins with a Crossover. (OffMashOver is also acceptable).

10. Better Call Supernatural (Better Call Saul/Supernatural) Taking a retainer for the “Men of Letters Legal Trust” seemed like a no-brainer. The pay was low, but they hadn’t needed legal services for 50 years! But suddenly, some “Winchester” yahoos want to know if it’s really “assault” to throw holy water in someone’s face, and keep needing to be bailed out for murder.
I mean, dodge a charge once? Sure. But how do the same guys keep walking from major charges without a trial, or ANY notoriety?
And why is that dog looking at me funny?

9. Knight of Interest (Knight Rider/Person of Interest) – The idea of an AI designed to help people existed long before The Machine, and though officially decommissioned, the now decentralized KITT has been preparing to select a new Michael Knight for a very long time.

8. Agents of GRIMM (Agents of SHIELD/GRIMM) – There’s a special division forming for SHIELD to handle cases with a bit of the Strange in them, and they’re recruiting. (Ideally, they also recruit an Immortal, a Slayer, a Reaper… )

7. How to Train Your Kaiju (Godzilla/How to Train Your Dragon) – We were attacked by monsters. But some of them formed attachments, strange pyschic links, to our children. We realized that to defeat monsters, we must TRAIN monsters…

6. House of the Walking Dead (House/Walking Dead) – The ultimate diagnostic puzzle. An entire settlement has grown around protecting Doctor House, and providing him with narcotics, so he can solve the Zombie Apocalypse.
Assuming he really IS trying. He is, right? Right?

5. The Archer Brothers (Archer/The Venture Brothers) –  The former ISIS group need a new headquarters, and Kreiger knows a guy… And as part of the deal, Doctor Venture gets a new security team…

4. Star Trek: Holocron (Star Trek/Star Wars) – The ancient hulk began its journey long ago, from a galaxy far, far away. Scavengers found it, and though many died, others made off with new and bizarre technology. They sold it, pawned it, and as often as not were later killed by it on tiny worlds and run-down bases away from the major centers of any government. When a new order of Klingon Sith begin to conquer their home empire, using psychic powers and technology unlike anything ever seen before (coupled with their existing ships and weapons), the Federation realizes it needs a ship to find every Holocron in the quadrant, and train its own Force users.

3. Rick and Morty’s Guide to the Multiverse (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy/Rick and Morty) – As punishment for his crimes, everything Rick does for 100 years is to be recorded and made available as a guide to surviving alternate reality travel. The company doing the conversion to guidebook as some experience in this area…

2. The Fringe Files (Fringe/The X-Files) – Mulder discovers that SOME FBI agents has started their own “weird cases” taskforce while he was out of the game. And while there is NO sign of any of the people mentioned, the FILES are all still around.
Then the phone rings…

1. Stargate Galactica (Battlestar Galactica/Stargate) – Episode one, scene one. “Admiral Adama, we are receiving a hail from the third planet in this Possible Earth system.”
“Put it on speaker.”
“…to unknown vessel, please identity yourself, and the two fleets of ships behind you. Repeat, this is StarGate Command to unknown vessel,…”
“Two fleets!?”

Top Ten Superhero Themed Restaurant Ideas!

Yep, I am still on  narcotic painkillers!
10.Supermazzio: All pizzas are in the Superman chest-shield shape.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s Subway: Like Subway, but for pizza. So, basically, Mod Pizza. With nunchucks on the wall.
8. McGothams: Drive through burger joint with a clown-based mascot.
7. Red Lobster Johnson: Just change the decor to pulp-Hellboy and rename some dishes.
6. Jalapeno League of America: The JLA is like Chipotle, but with fewer diseases and more Oreo shakes.
5. Rom the Starbucks: Coffee and snacks able to banish dire wraiths
4. Punisher Steakhouse: Like Outback, except the menu is called a “War Journal” and when you order a steak it’s called “taking out a hit.”
3. Dr. Doom Donuts: Sweet confections, served by Doombots.
2. Arrowbee’s: Endless appetizers after 5pm, and archery-based pub games.
1. Red Robin: Just make it Batman-sidekick themed, nothing else changes.

More Random Thoughts

I suspect I still won’t have time to DO anything with these, but as I find or recall ideas I have while on these painkillers, I like to publicly archive them.
So, the idea is a series of Class Plots. Specific ways the abilities and options of various classes can be worked into any existing storyline, to help PCs feel special. For example:
Barbarian: A race of manipulative puppermasters are aiding the Main Bad Guy (whoever that is in your adventure). They are invisible and intangible.. except to people in rage.
Bard: A major Weapon of the enemy is an ancient song that controls the minds of those who hear it, but which countersong works especially well against.
Cleric; An ancient rite of the Old Church, which can ONLY be prepared as a domain spell (self-scaling so its more effecting when prepared as a higher level spell)
Druid: A nature-based magical beast with an Int of 1 or 2 that is a CRUCIAL ally… but can ONLY be handled using wild empathy.
Fighter: A weapon forged in ancient days to help defeat the Main Threat (whatever that is), but can only be wielder by someone who has special Weapon Training.
… and so on.

Things I have thought about in the past 12 hours.

*Kite golems. Most likely as Asian, ninjaesque spies.
*A series of short PDFs called “The Twist!” each one gives a single game-mechanical bolt-on option for a creature, encounter, location, or items, and discusses ways to use that to change existing things to focus on new stuff. Like, a simple template that turns any creature into a ghost possessing its own dead corpse. A deadly trap that has killed so many psychics, it has become self-aware (and both hates its existence, and feels it must fulfill it’s core function). An archetype that lets a cleric be the only worshiper of her god, in all the universe. A complex family tree, with both great heroes and ancient tyrants, that can be used to slot any PC or NPC into a vast and storied geneaology.
*Modern spells with joke (but thematically appropriate) components. Like something that makes poison safe to eat, but requires ketchup or pepper; or one that lets you fire a fiorearm without reloading, but requires a DVD of an action film as a focus.
*A fantasy stronghold that is headquarters and working churgical center of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller, as a site for adventures, or a base of operation, or a way for GMs to allow PCs to fix any character-ruining ailment, but only after completing an adventure there.
*A time traveler who can only go from one bordello to another, because it’s the World’s Oldest Profession.
*A new category of Spell Dragons, broken down by school (Evocation Dragons, Divination Dragons, et al)
*For a near-future setting: Remote drone flying taxis called AirLyft.
*According to this note I scribbled down while sleeping – “Th band is the hive.” I’ll see if I remember anything more about that.
*Also “Twinkie porn.” … I HOPE I was thinking of a Pinterest-like site for people who love to look at pictures of interesting twinkie recipes.
*Genre Mash-Ups. Old West Vikings (“Longarm”). Post-Apocalypse Jungle Book. Tron/Transformers (Cyber-Tron).
Some other stuff I have written down in the other room…

There Are Unspeakable Things, and Magic is Dangerous

Painkiller-induced idea for how to add more Lovecraft vibes to your Pathfinder game, while also balancing out martials and casters.

10% of everything with a CR you encounter is Noisome and Disquieting. (The GM should get a list of Lovecraft Adjectives, or Lovecraftives, so as to easily describe these things.)

When encountering them, you must make a Will or Fort save (whichever is better for you). If you fail, you gain a negative level and take a -5 penalty to your attack and damage rolls and save DCs for 1 hour. The DC for this save is 15 + CR.

If you fail this save by 10 or more, the GM gets to run your character as a madman for 1 round per CR, or slip you a note about a new (crazy) objective you have picked up and aren’t telling anyone about.

Because magic is dangerous and full of knowledge that can blast your inner self, your save against Noisome and Disquieting things takes a penalty equal to the highest level spell or spell-like ability you can cast, plus -1 for each supernatural ability you possess.


Diesel Pulp Models and figures

I continue to slowly modify and assemble models and figures for my Diesel Pulp headcannon setting. Obviously there’s priming and basing and painting yet to me done, these are all works in progress.

Diesel Pulp Gardland and Mulholland 01From L to R, a Garland Heavy Walker, a Free Corps Light Infantry demolitions expert, a Tumbleweed Light Mech (in back), a Heavy Infantry armor suit, a Mulholland Medium Walker, and a Free Corps Light Infantry soldier.

Diesel Pulp Allied ForcesAllied Diesel Pulp Forces
L to R: A Gardland Heavy Walker (with three of the most famous Irregulars: Sky King, All-American Girl, and The Yankee), three Free Corps mercenaries, a British “Tory” gun carrier (the famous interwar ‘Walking Pillbox’), three Heavy Infantry Armor Suits, three Medium Infantry (front) and a Gun Carrier (back), a Self-Motivated Mortar with three Yowling Yahoos (light infantry commandos), a Tumbleweed Light Mech, and a Mulholland Medium Walker (“torchie” variant).

Diesel Pulp Soviet Forces.jpgSoviet Diesel Pulp
In back, TS-1 and K-34 Medium Walkers. Along the front three “Night Ogres,” the Soviet attempt at Heavy Infantry that were too large and heavily armed and armored for anyone else to call them infantry (generally categorized as Gun Carriers by other nations). Both the walkers and the gun carriers show the distinctive sloped armor the Soviets had developed to good effect in the FT Fast Walker designs in the Interwar Period. The K-34 and leftmost Night Ogre also sport “Iron Claws,” one of the Soviet answers to their constant lack of munitions and high percentage of urban fighting (also resulting in the distinctive red-and-gray “Brickhouse” cammo patterns.
Also present two Commissars (currently sans-humpanzee troops) and a military seer (in back near the TS-1).

Diesel Pulp Dinos 01.jpg

Though the mystery of where Nazi Germany was getting dinosaurs wasn’t solved until very late in the war, in most theaters of combat the occasional unit of “Thunder Cavalry” had little enough impact that Allied planners did not consider them a major threat.
However, in Africa the dreaded Wüstedrachen were a major part of how Rommel managed to hold a large portion of the continent long after the Allies successfully cut off most routes of supply and reinforcement from the continent. The beasts were capable of outrunning and outlasting horses, camels, and even jeeps, could allow expert troops to carry significant material and even anti-tank weapons, and the higher portion of light troops without armor support made their close combat abilities more relevant.
Here three Wüstedrachen are seen alongside two interwar Italian C3/33 Mechettes. While Mechettes saw only limited use in Europe, Rommel made good use of what Italian forces he had, and employed them effectively as scouting and infantry support, often in conjunction with Wüstedrachen or Medium Infantry.

A rough sketch of vague thoughts of an idea for Pathfinder Magic

I don’t have time for it, but there’s a more flexible form of spellcasting I have often wanted to play with, as a design space.

In it’s simplest form, it would work something like this.

You prepare a number of effects for the day, in the same way an arcanist currently prepares spells. You’d also prepare a number of Descriptors, like charm, and fire. You might get one per ability score bonus, I dunno.

Effects might look like this:

0-Level Effect: Bolt (1d3 Descriptor damage, ranged touch, short range)
Detect Magic (Detect magic, identify Descriptor)

1st-Level Effect: Enamor (become friendly toward caster 1 minutes/level, if Charm Descriptor double duration, if other descriptor target deals 1dr Descriptor damage when adjacent to you).
Spray (1d4/level Descriptor damage, 15 ft cone, save for 1/2)

You’d have a set number of Effects/day, but each time you used it you could pick or effect (so if you got 3 1st-level effects per day you could use Enamor three times, Enamor twice and Spray once, or whatever). (Or the system could use Spell Points.)

Each time you cast an effect, you choose from your available Descriptors. Then Descriptors would be like:

charm: Unless an effect specifies otherwise for this descriptor – Damaging spells deal nonlethal damage. If target fails save by 5 or more, or you hit target’s AC by 5 or more, it takes a -2 penalty on attack and damage rolls against you and saves against your effects with the charm Descriptor for 1 minute.
fire: Unless an effect specifies otherwise for this descriptor – Damaging spells deal fire damage. If target fails save by 5 or more, or you hit target’s AC by 5 or more, it catches on fire.


That’s just the most basic sketch, but the core idea is that there’s a big list of effects, and a small list of Descriptors. Each Descriptor makes a small change to how spells work (or, in a few cases, a big change), and maybe some effects can’t be used with some Descriptors (no shadow Light effects perhaps). A caster would have a wide range of options by combining a smaller set of rules, and if you want to play an Ice Mage you’d never have to worry about burning hands, scorching ray, and fireball being your best offensive choices.

There are question that would have to be answered (what does fire Cure Light Wounds look like? Should the Divination school become the divination descriptor, or does fire augury require a fire to look into to cast it? How many descriptors is too many for the system, and how do we decide which ones a spellcaster gets?)

But, seriously, it’s not something I have time to work on…

Storytime: My First Moat

It was neither as intentional, nor as convenient, as one might hope in a major structural defense.

Alternate Level Advancement: An Idle Thought

I haven’t even really begun to consider the implications of this, but:
What if, as an alternate form of Level Advancement, instead of tracking experience points, you tracked encounters.
And instead of all encounters counting toward this total, you have to get a certain number of various types.
For example, to gain a level you must have 14 encounters, which must include 1 combat with 8 or more foes, 1 combat with 4-6 foes, 1 combat with 2-3 foes, 1 combat with a single foe, 2 social encounters, 2 roleplaying encounters, 1 trap, 1 puzzle, and 1 exploration or investigation.
Of the 4 combat encounters, 2 must be against foes with strong magic resistance, and one must be against a foe with strong weapon resistance.
No more than 1 encounter in each category can be APL -1 or lower in CR, and no more than 7 can be APL -1 or lower CR. Encounters with a CR of APL +3 or higher count as two.
These would be tacked on a simple encounter sheet, which would also name enc encounter (and have a line for notes, helping players and GM easily remember what has happened).If you have an encounter of a type you’ve already maxed out, you track it as a repetitive encounter. For every three repetitive encounters you have, you can mark off an encounter of a different type.
If the GM fails to make the appropriate encounters available 75% of the time, you get to throw pickles at him.
(I DID mention this is a first blush idea.)