Monthly Archives: September 2016

But You HAVE Heard of Me!

Continuing playing with the idea of quirks that replace favored class bonuses. So, in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day

But You HAVE Heard of Me!

Any character can take this quirk in place of one favored class bonus. Creatures receive a +5 circumstance bonus to Knowledge checks to identify you. If you are present when a character does this, you are aware of it if you make a Sense Motive check with a DC equal to the identifying character’s Knowledge check result.

Once per day, you can call on your infamy with a character who has met you in the past 24 hours and successfully identified you with a Knowledge check. You may make a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check against that character as a swift action. The DC for such checks is the normal DC or 15 + target’s CR, whichever is higher.

(And if you want more pirate-themed stuff, check out Fight Like a Pirate, or the Pirate Haven of Blackrock! On sale today at the Open Gaming Store.)

Sense for These Things

Continuing playing with the idea of quirks that replace favored class bonuses.

Sense for These Things

Any character may take this quirk once in place of one favored class bonus. You may use this quirk one per day. You may take this quirk more than once. Each time it allows you to use it one additional time per day.

You have a vague sense for what actions tend to help you move forward in difficult times. When deciding on a course of action, you can ask the GM is one specific course of action will move you and your group forward in a current adventure, mystery, or plot. basically, you get to ask if a plan takes you to another encounter that is part of the adventure, or not. You don;t discover if your assumptions are correct, or it it is near the end, or if you are likely to win. Just if the plan moves you to an event related to what’s going on.

Friends in Low Places

Continuing playing with the idea of quirks that replace favored class bonuses.

Friends in Low Places

Any character may take this quirk once in place of one favored class bonus. There’s a chance you have friends (or at least contacts) in settlements you visit. Each time you enter a settlement that is not mostly unfriendly or worse toward you, you may make a DC 20 Diplomacy check. Add the settlement’s modifier for size (from -4 for a thorp to +4 for a Metropolis). You can’t take 10 or take 20 on this check even if you are normally able to do so.

On a successful check, you have a local friend of ally. This is a character with NPC class levels no higher than half your level, to a maximum of the normal number of qualities a settlement of this size has. This may be an old friend, or an ally of an organization or group you belong to. You and your GM should determine in advance the nature of your net of friends and allies.

They are friendly, but not helpful, and have no special authority or resources beyond the norm for typical members of the settlement. You can’t have more total levels of friends and allies that your character level. You can take this quirk more than once, each time adding your level to the total levels worth of friends and allies you may have.

Master Class, Hybrid Classes (Pt 1)

Master Class are posts where I talk a bit about design choices, how I make them, and what guides these decisions. They’ll likely be pretty rare.

Building the Bombardier (Hybrid Alchemist/Gunslinger), Part One

So, let’s say we wanted to make a hybrid alchemist gunslinger. Thematically this makes a lot of sense – only two official classes are built on technology, so combining them should work well. And I’ve never seen a campaign that allowed gunslingers but not alchemists (though yes, I am sure they exist), so we’re not likely to create something less likely than its parents to be allowed into a GM’s game.

Hybrid classes generally borrow features from both parent classes, then add a brand-new class feature designed to synergize them. But how that’s done depends a lot on early design choices.

Role: It’s worth writing a little about your hybrid class’s role early in your design process. You may want to modify this once you are done to reflect the final reality, but even early on it’s useful to have some idea what you are trying to build as a design guideline.

Alchemist and gunslinger both talk in terms of dealing damage, taking risks, and being useful in battle. Our bombardier is quickly sounding like a daredevil experimenter who loved cooking up dangerous devices, and willing to test them from the front line. Both alchemist and gunslinger talk about dual possible builds, which we may or may not want to copy over for the hybrid class… let’s decide that later.

Hit Die: d8.

Basically, if a class is designed to ever be close to fighting, it gets at least a d8 hit die. And if it doesn’t have a full +1/level base attack bonus (BAB), it doesn’t get a d10 or more. That first rule is important, and breaking it is very likely to make a class too fragile to survive its primary role. The second rule is more flexible, and if you have a good reason to make a non-full BAB class have a bigger hit die than d8, that’s fine. I did it myself with the armiger (Genius Guide to the Armiger), a defensive utility class I wanted to be able to survive constant front-line fighting despite having a moderate BAB progression.

For our bombardier, I don’t think we can afford a full BAB. We want to give the class a firearm as a class feature at 1st level, like the gunslinger, and it’ll ALSO need some form of bombs and/or extracts in order to draw on its alchemist heritage. That’s already a lot of power, and using the alchemist BAB gives us more leeway. And, practically speaking, if it’s using firearms and explosives it can likely do fine in combat without a full BAB, and while staying a bit back from the front line.

Now we COULD have made different choices here, which is one reason I recommend having a role sketched out early in the design process. If we had decided we wanted a different alchemist/gunslinger hybrid, perhaps one that focused on mutagens and grit called a juicer or madserum, we might have opted to forgo the firearm entirely and prefer a full BAB and d10 or even d12 HD. But that’s not the direction we’re going here.

Starting Wealth: 4d6 x 10 gp (average 140 gp)

Starting wealth only matters for 1st level characters, but you can’t make a new character without it. Basically, this is how you tell players and GMs how much gear you expect the character to need to start. Both alchemists and gunslingers have a fair amount of stuff assumed in their class, from firearms to alchemical components, so neither has particularly demanding money needs, though ammunition and alchemical weapons can add up as consumables. In this case we split the difference between the two, which seems fine.

Class Skills: Appraise (Int), Craft (any) (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (engineering) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Points per Level: 4 + Int modifier

Not being as deeply tinker-based as the alchemist, Disable Device, Fly, Heal, Sleight of hand, and Survival can go. Not being as dashing and swashbuckler-y as the gunslinger, Acrobatics, Bluff, Handle Animal, Heal, Ride, Sleight of Hand, and Survival can be discarded. Interestingly that means several of the skills both classes have – Heal, Sleight of Hand, and Survival, aren’t part of our final class.

Also, having cut a lot of Charisma options, we may be leaning toward having our Bombardier be an Int-based class, though that has strong tonal implications. We’re not set on that course, but we’ve taken a step that direction.

Since both parent classes get 4 skill points/level, we’ll go for that too.

Base Saving Throws: Both parent classes have good Fort and Ref, and poor Will. Unless we discover a good reason to change that, we’ll stick with it.

And that’s it for Part One! The current plan is to look at what we want to salvage from the parent classes in Part Two in 1-2 weeks, and then fill in conceptual and mechanical gaps with new class features in Part Three a bit after that!

Sagacity

Sometimes a player wants to be a real specialist in a specific field, and the GM doesn’t want them to be hitting higher DCs when they take 20.

Sagacity
Any character with one or more ranks in a Knowledge skill may take this quirk in place of a favored class bonus. This quirk may be taken more than once. Each time you select this quirk, select one use of one Knowledge skill you have at least one rank in. For example, identifying undead (using Knowledge Religion), or knowing current rulers and their symbols (using Knowledge nobility). When making that skill check for that specific purpose, roll an additional d20 and use the result higher d20 rolled.

When you take this quirk multiple time you can either apply it to the same use (gaining multiple d20s you roll, always taking the highest single result), or apply it to a new specific use of a specific Knowledge skill. You cannot apply this quirk to a skill more than once per rank you have in that skill.

A character who has taken this quirk 5 or more times is generally acknowledged as a sage.

UnAppeased

You don’t HAVE to define all aspects of the reality of a game world through rules, but if it’s the kind of thing you enjoy you CAN.

UnAppeased

Any character that worships a deity may take the UnAppeased quirk in place of a single favored class bonus.

When you are in a settlement that worships the pantheon your deity is in, and you are at a location other than a church which is strongly tied thematically to one of your deity’s Areas of Concern, and that location does not have some acknowledgement of your deity (a shrine is most common, but even working in your deity’s symbol, colors, or favored weapon or animals in a noticeable way qualifies), you gain a minor advantage against those within that location engaged in its associated activities. If you make an attack roll and miss, you may reroll the attack. If you force a foe to make a saving throw and it succeeds, it is force to reroll. Once a single missed attack hits or a single successful save fails, you no longer benefit from this quirk for the rest of the day.
Because of this, even in non-evil settlements, court houses and legal buildings often a mace, serpent, or at least red and black colors worked into an area, to appease Asmodeus who has contracts as an Area of Concern.

’49 – Carcaso

Lt. Carcaso scanned the mountain pass as best she could under the circumstances. The Reade Goggles she’d been issued could pierce the darkness nearly as well as a German Vampir scope, though the image was all in shades of green, but even it was hindered by the heavy, wet snow falling around them. Smoke was still curling up from at least three fortified positions where the USS Savannah had dropped a half-dozen hundred-pounders. The crew of the “Savvy Sav” had a well-deserved reputation for being among the most accurate airship bombers in the Allied Forces, and the fact that a group of slightly crazed irregulars had successfully snuck into the pass to mark the positions with flares had helped.

But the Savannah had moved on to support the Copenhagen Offensive, and the irregulars had warned in advance they were moving on to find some secret underground castle beyond the pass. That left Lt. Carcaso’s weapon platoon to claim the pass itself and hold it until larger units of the Expeditionary Forces caught up to them, or they were ordered to move on to an active front. They’d taken some casualties getting this far, and the situation might have been impossible if the Savannah hadn’t swing by to lend a hand. But her troops still had two big 9kw Tesla tripods, the Browning H2MB, and three BARs. Those would hold a pass against anything short of actual armor units, as long as juice and ammo held.

If they were dug into the pass. Not if they were sitting in the open at one end, staring at it.

Carcaso glanced over her shoulder, and sure enough Gunnery Sgt. Macklin was hovering nearby.

“Thoughts, Gunney?”

Carcaso had learned he would tell her what he thought whether she asked or not, and asking meant it looked less like he didn’t trust her to know how to fight a war. Sergeants classically didn’t trust lieutenants with as little field experience as she had in any case, and Carcaso had nothing but respect for anyone who had survived the ’44 disaster and won a bronze V doing so.  But Macklin was also struggling to adapt to the “Rosie the Rifleman” act of ’47, and it was a struggle he lost as often as he won. She’d never been concerned she’d have to actually draw her pistol on him, unlike a few men in training, but Carcaso had to constantly consider how Macklin would react to any order she gave, and how his reaction would affect the other marines.

To be honest, it was exhausting. She was here to fight the Axis, not the men under her command.

But Macklin was experienced and competent, in purely military matters, and if keeping that experience for the benefit of her platoon meant dancing around his prejudices and limitations that was, after all, the job.

Macklin was tall, well over six-and-a-half feet, but also the thinnest human being Carcaso had ever met. Rumor claimed he’d be a carnival thin man before the war, and as ridiculous as that sounded she could believe it. His neck stuck out of the collar of his uniform like a pencil rattling around in a mug sitting on an desk, and his gnarled adam’s apple fought with the kriegshund-bite scars just below his jaw to draw your eyes into a stare. His face looked just a hint too thin to be normal, and was pockmarked with pits and thin white lines, one of which split his upper lip.

He took one long stride to be next to her, sucked on the right half of his upper lip, and scanned the pass. Carcaso had no idea what he could be looking for, at night, in snow, without optics, but she knew from experience he wasn’t wasting time. She mentally counted down from five, wondering if this would be the magic moment when his timing was different.

As she reached “0,” he spoke.

“I don’t like it, ma’am.”

Carcaso didn’t wince anymore when he forgot female officers were always to be addressed with their rank by those in their command. Lord knew she’d be called worse than ‘ma’am.’

Macklin continued. “Those pillboxes weren’t just dugouts, but they also weren’t hardened at all. Sure, there’s nothing you can do if a Brooklyn-class airship takes a dislike to you, but those didn’t just break, they’re gone. A couple of Garlands, or any heavy walker, could’ve hammered them hard enough to crack without much bother.

“That means the Heinies didn’t expect their fortitifications to be enough to hold the gap from heavy walkers or artillery. But given the state of things, they wouldn’t have hauled in the materials to build full bunkers unless they thought they could hold the pass against any reasonable threat. There’s no way they expected us to grab local air superiority, we sure as shi… shoot didn’t expect it. So they were thinking in terms of armor. And if you have the time and supply lines to haul in munitions and engineers and build actual bunkers, and you don’t expect your guns to stop heavy units…”

Carcaso nodded. “Mines.”

Macklin grimaced. “They’d have to be set up so the weight of the snow won’t trigger them. We might be able to move troops over them safely, but the Teslas… “

Carcaso shook her head firmly.

“Too great a risk. And we have other options. Send some scouts to extend our perimeter, Gunney, and get the Teslas set up. If we have contact with anything too dangerous, we’ll open up with the lightning guns along the ground toward the pass’s mouth. HQ says that should detonate any mine the Krauts have access to, but we all know HQ can be wrong. If no one rushes us, we’ll let Ford handle it. And if there’s still something nasty in the pass, the Teslas can offer him cover fire.”

Macklin nodded, turned, and started barking orders. It was, Carcaso admitted to herself, something he was very good at. As long as someone told him what to do, or there was a fight raging and no time to think, Macklin was an amazing leader. It was only when decisions had to be made in the long silence, when there was ample opportunity to second-guess himself, that Macklin became too hidebound to adapt to a situation.

One of the sergeant’s barked orders caught the attention of the only member of Carcaso’s platoon taller than Macklin himself. The figure jerked to its feet, its head turning until it was centered on the lieutenant, then it marched toward her in even, if stilted, strides.

The metal man was slightly over seven feet tall, and painted in surprisingly bright green, though in several places the dull gray of his chassis showed through the paint’s chips and scratches. A “Big Tommy” .50 cal was slung over his left shoulder, leather and canvas pouches were strapped to his chest and legs, and a transport pack was mounted on his back, though instead of a blanket roll it had a chain wrapped around the top like a horseshoe. A single red shield device on the center of his chest had “R.U.R.” written in large letters, and “4D-4RS1T” in smaller type stamped beneath that.

He marched at a constant pace to stand exactly three feet from Carcaso, then stopped with a jerk.

“Re. Por. Ting. As. Ore. Derd. Lew. Ten. Ant.”

As always, Ford’s voice was flat, emotionless, and choppy. It has taken her nearly a week to consistently be able to understand him but now it was second nature to her. As was the more crucial task of giving him orders he wouldn’t reject as violations of his core commands.

“Ford, we have reason to believe the approach to the pass, and possibly the pass itself, are mined. These areas are now your current field of operation. Examine the field with normal caution, superseding secondary and tertiary duties. Any detected mine should be eliminated with maximum combined safety and expediency. If no acceptable parameters allow for this, mark the mine or return for consultation. If a primary duty interrupts the operation, return for confirmation of this operation after fulfilling the primary duty. Analyze operational parameters and suspend for adjustment if any violation of core commands is detected.”

Ford stood, motionless, and Carcaso was convinced she could hear a faint hum coming from his chest. Then his arms bent backwards and unhooked the chain from his transport pack, coiling it in a loop in his right arm. He lifted the Big Tommy and without looking hooked it behind his head onto pegs where the chain had just been. Once that was done he marched in the same quick but stilted gait toward the pass.

As soon as he reached the last “clear” flag at the edge of their position, he stopped. His body bent down, and he jabbed his left hand into the snow. Carcaso was too far away to hear or feel it, but she knew he’d just sent a ping into the frozen earth beneath the snowpack. He remained crouched for fifteen seconds, then stood, took five swift, stilted steps, and repeated the process.

When she’d signed up for officer school, Carcaso has been repeatedly told she be in command of a mixed-gender unit. Women were needed now as pilots, mechanics, and specialists in front-line roles, and US Command wanted very much for all front-line female military personnel to be assigned in large groups and always with a woman in the command structure. Carcaso hadn’t cared, but given how often her instructors had told her that was absolutely happening, it was what she’d come to expect.

But nothing is certain in war or politics. Edvard Beneš, resigned president of the First Czechoslovak Republic and now a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, had convinced someone in the US military to smuggle Alquist Fabry out of Czechoslovakia with the only copies of the full plans for constructing Rossum’s Universal Robots. With Rossum dead, his early research in Nazi hands, and his lone factory destroyed, it had been determined at the highest levels that the US could not allow an automaton technology gap between the Axis and the Allies. Early American-manufactured R.U.R. models, Ford included, had been tested in the same facilities where Carcaso was trained.

Working with Robots in the field proved difficult, but Carcaso had a knack for it. She and Ford consistently performed in the top 5% when teamed together, and hadn’t had a single pitchfork incident. Given how few Robots were available for the Expeditionary Force, it had made sense to assign Ford to her weapon platoon.

However, fearing some kind of horrible incident that would somehow sap the will of America to fight, Congress had decided no Robot would be assigned to any unit including enlisted women. So rather than be the officer of a mixed gender unit, Carcaso was put in charge of a veteran squad of 28 men who had never served with a woman, much less been commanded by one, and one Robot.

Ford paused, nearly a hundred feet away now, and stayed in a crouch for a full minute. Then he uncoiled the chain around his right arm. Gripping the last 3 links in his hand, he lashed the chain forward at an angle, swinging the hundred pounds of metal with ease. Where the very end of the chain slammed into the ground, an explosion shot up instantly. Snow, smoke, dirt, and shrapnel were flung out in all directions. Some fell on Ford, but did nothing more than scratch his paint. He began to re-coil the somewhat shorter chain.

Carcaso allowed herself a smile. Ford was worth dozens of human fighting men or women, and she was proud of their work together. There had been some unpleasantness early in her command, and she knew there’d be more in the future. But if it meant unleashing the full power of Ford on the enemy, it was worth it.

Besides, the Robot never forgot to call her by her rank.

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Character Creation Rules

When I start a new campaign, I like to send out a set of guidelines outlining what I do and don’t allow for character creation. Sometimes these are very specific (I have been known to restrict a group to one character with a full base attack bonus, one with 9-levels of spellcasting, and one with 6 or more skill points… though that is far from universal). Sometimes they are pretty general. They are always designed to help players make characters that will fit well in the campaign I plan to run.

That doesn’t mean I am a dictator. If the rules mean you can’t make the character you want, talk to me. Normally, that’s because you want to run something that won’t work well in the game I want to run. In that case, the whole group may want to discuss what kind of game we want, and if I am the best GM for it. Rarely, you have some corner case I have accidentally ruled out with broad rules, in which case it may work for me to inform the whole group the rules are being modified to allow for it.

I’m going to be running a new Pathfinder RPG campaign soon, which I classify as a “Beer and Pretzels” game. That is, it’s lighthearted entertainment not to be taken too seriously, in which I am often making things up as I go along. The rules for character creation in this game are typical, if not necessarily iconic, for how I do things and are presented here in case anyone finds that interesting.

*1st level characters
*You character can only take options from the Core Rulebook, Advanced Player’s Guide, Advanced Class Guide, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, Occult Adventures, Player Companion: Dirty Tactics Toolbox, Player Companion: Melee Tactics Toolbox, and ONE other book by Paizo or Rogue Genius Games. (Exception, if you play a rogue or monk, you may use the version in Pathfinder Unchained. If you play a summoner, you MUST use the version in Pathfinder Unchained).  If the thing from the optional book you select references something in optional books you have not selected, you may take just those things from the other books. (If using hero lab, you can turn off sources to make sure you don’t use illegal options. You can also check archivesofnethys.com, or http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/, for sources, or if using d20pfsrd.com, you can ask me about things you don’t know the source for.)
*No matter what book you pick, you can only play races designed to be PCs and that cost no more than 11 race points using the race builder options in Advanced Race Guide. If you don’t know, feel free to ask, but put simply everything in the Core Rulebook is in, full-powered drow, assimar, and similar souped-up races are out.
*If you pick a race that has fewer that 11 race points, I’ll give you a boon of my choice to make up the difference.
*You begin play with 300 gp of equipment. If you end up with a lot to spare, remember than a potion of cure light wounds is only 50 gp. 🙂
*16 point ability score buy, using the ability buy rules from the Core Rulebook.
*No evil or chaotic neutral characters.
*All characters must have a good reason (that the character is okay with) to be seeking adventure and wanting to solve problems. If your character ends up being uninterested in the adventures I run, you’ll get bored, and no one wants that. 🙂
Also, one of my general rules for running a game:
*All players agree we are all here to try to help everyone have fun.
I STRONGLY recommend you all discuss among yourselves who is playing what, but if the game ends up with four elven magi, so be it.

Strangefinder Modern: Tale of the Peasant Regent

Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.

Tale of the Peasant Regent

Legends of Peng-Kun sometimes pop up when investigating Strange Manifestations, despite the fact no manifestation has ever been traced back to an Alterniverse connected to Peng-Kun. The first Strangefinder to encounter a new legend fo Peng-Kun normally then must deal with encountering a Sanatorium Script shortly thereafter, but once report sod the legend get out, Strangecholars can safely recount them, and analyze them

One of the most well known of these legends is the Peasant Regent, from which tale those Strangefinders who identify themselves with the Phoenix Black House of Peng-Kun take their nomenclature.

Once in the Graven Lands of Peng-Kun was the Phoenix Black House, which was surrounded on all sides and at all times by inequities and evil. No band of living champions, no matter how mighty, could maintain this Black House given its endless array of enemies. But the Phoenix were strong, for they could call upon each fallen ancestor once to arise and face a foe, and thus were able to call upon far more than their living champions. And if a Phoenix Scion was destroyed, her House-Bound could call upon her even at that same moment to return and finish her task.

Among those who opposed the Phoenix was the Heron Black House, and they saw that no force of eldritch or pragmatic force could defeat the Phoenix. Thus instead the Hero used their shadowcasting ways, and spoke of how great the Phoenix were, and how no other Black House, and certainly no lesser bloodline, was worthy of their companionship.

Thus did, over generations, the Phoenix fall to the Heron’s shadow, and mate less and less outside their own numbers. Their tree of ancestors ceased to broaden, and as each past champion could be called upon only once, their greatest power became weaker and weaker. The Hero whispered that it was impurity that weakened the Phoenix, and thus the Black House of fire and renewal reinforced the traditions that were killing it.

After a Time Unknown (legends of Peng-Kung often speak of “time unknown,” and rarely give any specific dates or temporal references), there came to be only a single Phoenix Scion left. Her name is unknown, but when speaking of her time fleeing from the enemies of her Black House, she is called the Lady of Embers. The Lady of Embers could not hold the lands and duties of the Phoenix Black House, for she knew only a dozen fallen champions still uncalled by her house, and though personally a great champion she was ever outnumbered.

Instead of fighting to the last and destroying her land, she taunted the Lokis Black House and showed them weakness. When they attacked, she fled and hid. Thus did the Lokis overtake all her lands with no bloodshed, and the other foes of the Phoenix found they could not divide her lands among them, because the Lokis guarded their conquest fiercely.

The Lady of Embers shed her grand apparel and took on the guise of a peasant woman, and lived among those she had once rules. She was quiet, and humble, and took as her mates three men and two women, all spurned bastards of Black Houses that hated the Phoenix and who had thus fled their own ancestral homelands into Phoenix territory. The Lokis thought her defeated, and made no effort to find her. The Heron feared her presence in the shadows, but could shed no light upon her.

She bore children, and quietly had them anointed and made Scions of the Phoenix. She secret complete the Black House Rituals to become Regent over her young offspring, and ensured their parents and her mates were secured away. Then, armed with their rights as Phoenix Scions, she challenged the Lokis Black House in the heart of what was once the Phoenix Stronghold.

A thousand Lokis surrounded her, and demanded to know her intention. She offered them this. As the Peaseant Regent, she could now call on the ancestors of her children, including Lokis Scions going back to the First Days. This would surely win her victory over the Lokis on that day… but leave the Lokis weakened, and herself with far fewer ancestors to face the other Black Houses that would fall upon her like lionvultures.

Of the Lokis could ally themselves with her. She would marry her offspring to Lokis Scions, in time, and establish a rule of drawing in other Black House offspring to ensure the Phoenix would never again lack champions to call from the grave. She and the Lokis would both be strong, and both profit and grow in power.

All who heard her knew the Peasant Regent was now among the most powerful and wisest of all Scions, for she had found power in humble origins, and could offer a strong hand to those who were once her enemies.

The legends does not say how the Lokis replied, though Lokis Strangefinders and Phoenix Strangefinders are often strong allies.

Lethal Measures

MundaneMan watched as Smart Alex neatly folded a high-thread-count sheet into a tube on her armor’s arm. She then loaded two cans of squeeze cheese into the side of the same device. Once those were in place, she ran a flexible feeding tube from the arm-cannon, under her shoulder armor, until it clipped onto the chin of her helmet, within easy reach of her mouth.

“Okay, MM. I’m ready.”

MundaneMan blinked.

“What?”

“I’m ready. Prepared. All set. We can go now. Those are perfectly mundane words, you should understand them.”

MundaneMan shook his head. “No, not ‘what did you say,’  I mean ‘what the hell are you doing?’ We’re going after Cocksure. He’s one of the most dangerous foes the Furious Folk have ever faced.”

Smart Alex nodded, grimly. “Right. And he’s bulletproof, energy-proof, super strong, and annoyingly good at Scrabble. That’s why I had to take time to prepare. I hope all of us working together can bring him down. But if not… ” she patted the sheet-and-cheese loaded cannon,” I’m ready with lethal munitions.”

“How. The. HELL. Is that thing lethal?”

Smart Alex shook her head. “I’ve told you before, it’s Trivianics. All my devices are powered by extraordinarily odd bits of information. In this case, it’s the Correlation Cannon, and my most dangerous ammunition. I’ve never actually used it before, but there’s almost no chance Cocksure will survive if I am driven to that extreme.”

MundaneMan found his jaw was slack, and closed it with a snap. He shrugged, and began walking to the FuryCar. Smart Alex fell in behind him, and he could feel her mentally replaying their stroll as a slow walk.

“No!” MundaneMan spun and pointed a finger at Smart Alex.

“I know I’m just a mundane, and you are one of the most respected of all the Furious Folk, but I just don’t buy it. There is no trivia in the world that is going to make cheese whiz lethal, unless he chokes on it!”

Smart Alex stopped, looking surprised, then shook her head. “Oh, the cheese isn’t for him. It’s for me. See, there’s a direct correlation between cheese consumption in the US and the number of people who choke to death in bedsheets. So the Correlation Cannon is designed to enforce that bit of trivia. The sheet is fired at my foes. A laser tracks it to ensure that at the exact moment it strikes, the soft cheese is forced down my throat in less than a second. This spike in cheese consumption makes the sheet lethal, just to ensure the local quantum correlation field is maintained.”

MundaneMan stared, for just a second. Then turned on one heel, and marched to the FuryCar.

Smart Alex smiled and followed, imagining what their march would look like as a slow walk.