Monthly Archives: May 2017

Setting Sketch; Wild, Wild East

In 1863, the Lost Continent of Mu rises from the Pacific Ocean, taking up a vast section of what was once open water. Despite being submerged for millennia and being covered in numerous ruins, some of its native white Nacaal people still exist in a degenerate form. Rather than the source of ancient wisdom and the origin of people from the Aztecs to the Egyptians, the Nacaal are revealed to have been traders and culture thieves, who spread ideas they encountered among one people to far-off partners while claiming original authorship.

With the Civil War raging, America is barely able to send any expeditions to Mu, though some naval forces are sent. The Second Mexican Empire, established by France and supported by Roman Catholic clergy, is suffering its own fighting and lacks the will or resource to make more than token expeditions into Mu. Other great powers, including much of Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia have great interest in a new continent, but are hard-pressed to gain access needed to explore it.

Some nations make immediate pushes into the new land. Japanese Emperor Kōmei and the Shogonate, locked in a power struggle over the fate of Japan and its dealings with the west, both send expeditions immediately, both public and secret, to secure this new land that vastly reduces their fishing territories. The British Empire, especially elements with ties and resources in Australia, also rush to declare the new land terra nullius (“land belonging to no one”). Peru, economically dependent on guano exports that cannot last forever, also makes a major push to colonize Mu, followed quickly (though less successfully) by Chile.

New resources discovered on the continent include the liquid metal “vril,” which can expand the mind of some people (suggested to be most likely to work on those with bloodlines dating back to the people who traded with, and were betrayed by, the original Nacaal), gravity-neutralizing cavorite, and the industrially-crucial vulcanium, which has the highest tensile strength of any known metal, despite a relatively low compressive strength and typical shear strength. Control of the “New East” is seen as crucial for any nation or company. The Singer Corporation is the first of a few enormous multinational companies to take a huge gamble to invest in this newest world, and the technology it could lead to.

The year is now 1868. Less than 1/5th of Mu has been thoroughly explored. Explorers from japan and Australia have established significant stronghold, but begin to question if they want to continue to take orders from their homelands. The United States, in a desperate bid to catch up in the race for Mu, pays the way of thousands of potential explorers, settlers, miners, and ranchers to sail from nearly any American port to New Houston, the only major US city on Mu, as long as they swear to support a US claim to any lands they settle. Samurai, cowboys, drovers, explorers, inventors, vaqueros, theosophists, spies, settlers, and traders all flock to a nearly lawless land, where any may develop odd powers from exposure to vril, or just pick up expert skills in an attempt to survive in…

The Wild, Wild East.
Samurai. Sixguns. Steam. Psychics. Adventure.

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Surefire Speculative Fiction Show Ideas

  1. “SPOOKED” When the randomly-selected patsy of a deep cover spy mission turns out to have an honest-to-magic necromancer as a sister, spies and ghosts face off in a world that runs from honeypots to ceramic urns and pits undercover against undead.
  2. “BLACK SPOT” For centuries the Order of the Black Spot have been hunting and killing pirates, working outside of government and outside the law. Now the King, Queen, and Jack of Spades, the royal family ruling the order, have mysteriously turned to the FBI to give information about bringing down both the remaining pirate organizations of the world, and their own Order.
  3. “CRIME AND CHAOS” When the government becomes the problem, who can the people turn to? A mastermind thief, greedy con, addicted stage magician, reformed pacifist ex-assassin, gray hat hacker, and disillusioned counterfeiter form the ultimate crime league, with their only targets the corrupted forces who now control law and order.
  4. “PLAN Z” Dozens of corporations and more than a few terrorist groups have access to a weaponized virus that creates undead, and the governments of the world are endlessly dealing with breakouts and pandemics in a desperate bid to prevent the zombie apocalypse. When a zone is too hot for any human to be sent in, the trained, international, experimental squad of soldiers who are immune carries to the zombie virus are sent in as Plan Z.
  5. “GOTHIC JUSTICE” When Lady Penanggalan went to sleep in 1800, she expected her monstrous partners to wake her in a century, as agreed. Now it’s 2017, and she’s discovered not only did the other Gothic Scions betray her, most have turned to run organized crime. She is pissed, and ready to work with human law if that’s what it takes to gain her revenge. But the most powerful of those scions, the dreaded Akephaloi or “Headless Man” knows more about Lady Pen’s sleep and why her allies betrayed her than she could ever guess.

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Top 10 Signs Your Game Group is Looking Forward to Starfinder!

  1. The players all suggest maybe they can add just a few very modest adjustments to the current Pathfinder game. Like allowing androids, lashunta, and ratfolk PCs. And playing Iron Gods. And adding psychic powers. And lasers. And a spaceship.
  2. Mondays and Fridays now include a “blog break” to look for more previews on paizo.com. And to debate what alignment each of the newly-revealed gods is most likely to e, since THAT is a great use of everyone’s time!
  3. The Star Wars vs Star Trek debate has morphed into which one has MORE fantasy elements, since Star Wars has laser swords and space wizards, but Star Trek has multiple pantheons of actual gods, half-elves, and bat’leths.
  4. The wizard tapes his wand of lightning bolt to the top of a flintlock, and insists on calling it a “blaster.”
  5. Any NPC that threatens a PC is told he can’t take the sky from them. No further explanation is forthcoming.
  6. The miniature-focused members of the group are gluing plasma cannons onto lizardfolk, Hellknights, and dragons. … Especially dragon.
  7. There’s a lot of talk of running. In shadows. And the Emperor. Or Heresy. Or both.
  8. Everyone picks up a repeating crossbow, and the ranger and magus work together to invent “hollow point” quarrels.
  9. Your friends are part of why the first offerings of Starfinder games at Gen Con sold out in 30 minutes.
  10. The inquisitor wants to know if studying mass combat in the Dragon Empires allows him to add “Han” as a descriptor for a class features, and then begins referring to “Han Solo Tactics.”

Patreon

I’m not saying funding my patreon will get you more Starfinder previews… because it won’t, it totally won’t.

Know Thyself: The Sap Scale

One of my many coping mechanisms for my various mental issues is my Sap Scale. The more exhausted, emotionally drained, and prone to panic attacks I am, the more likely I am to cry at things that don’t really deserve it. Thus I have “The Sap Scale,” which helps determine how big a sap I am being, and what the appropriate steps to take care of myself are. Obviously, this scale is personalized for just me, and this level of detail is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I do use this kind of detail to keep an eye on things.

The Sap Scale

  1. Cry at the end of “Old Yeller.” This is normal. Not crying here actually indicates a different problem (see “Landmarks of Emotional Numbness” chart)
  2. Cry at the end of Iron Giant. Still normal, and only noteworthy because I have done it up to 10 times in a single day, and still seem fully affected.
  3. Cry at the end of a CW superhero show’s season finale episode. Normal level of Sappiness. Take two deep breaths and check again in 4-6 hours. Consider the potential benefit for catharsis.
  4. Cry during a particularly intense RPG encounter involving debate, philosophy, morality, and characters you care about. Enhanced Sappiness detected. Engage and maintain internal monitoring of mental well-being, but do not stress over it. Really, don’t. It’s okay. You are allowed to have emotions.
  5. Cry at unexpected insults or disappointment. Despite feeling otherwise, this is normal and a reasonable baseline. Engage reality-checks, and be prepared to escalate self-care if Sap Scale number rises. Avoid beginning arguments and hard conversations until Sap Scale number declines. Check for self-care levels (Are you short on sleep? Short on food? Facing long-term stress of discomfort? If so, try to address these issues quickly.)
  6. Cry at the memory of tragedies and losses from 3 or more years ago. Check mental processes for signs of a death-spiral, and examine if this is really what you are crying about. As able, use stress release and/or low-impact support network contacts to ensure if things get worse, you have the needed mental assistance.
  7. Cry during a typical RPG encounter. Emotional alert. Alter or delay any stressful plans, and proceed as for scale level 6.
  8. Cry at a McDonald’s commercial. Emotional high alert. Take self-café steps immediately.
  9. Cry at the trailer for a Michael Bay movie. Active emotional emergency. Move to safe space asap.
  10. Crying. No apparent reason. Tears won’t stop, may drown in own phlegm. If this happens just because you woke up and have to face the day, call support network for help without delay. Yes, even though you don’t want to be a bother. Do it. Right now.

My Patreon

As much as I dislike talking about money on posts discussing mental health… my coping mechanisms are good enough to generally let me realize it’s reasonable to add a small note about the way people who enjoy reading what I write can help me afford the time it takes to write it.

So, if you like, check out my Patreon here. 🙂

Festival of Golems, Page 4

My assaults on the Land of Nod were largely failures, though a beachhead was made.
But by sunup I was wrestling with the Breakwaters of Possibility, wrangling a thousand adventures yet unknown into their orderly sagas. (And ensuring all such paid such homage to the Leath-Ri of Constellations as is his due).
Then I spoke to the Convocationers, as it worthwhile every year, and bespoke the Unbowed Threat as she destroyed iconic lives.
It seemed fun, so I spelled her for a time, and drew eight deaths from four bold souls.
And then, the toxins of Nod begin to take their toll. I assisted the Diva of Done and Puzzler Prince in instructing on the details of enhancing a universe… and grabbed a bagel.
More slaying of mighty heroes within a few hours.

Festival of Golems, Page 3

Had dinner in the Hall of True Heroes, sitting next to the Dominant Star. Then engaged in a little war, which the True Heroes won, as one would hope. Sat for a bit near the Tavern with the Dominant Star, Magician of Infinite Theory, Lady of Unexpected Madness, and then briefly with the Queen of the Button-Men and Pristine Flight and his word-egg. The Leath-Ri of Constellations fared by our way, and asked after the keeper of Cups, to him we did direct.
But I tire now, and while one Festival Duty is complete, the Golem Lords still have such wonders to show me…
I shall brace myself, in my redoubt in the Land of Nod.

Festival of Golems, Page 2

As it too often does, time has defeated runes, and the eldritch lines are dead. I am sure the Council of Esigil shall have words–and phrases, connotations, inferences, and meaningful gestures–for me when the clock next makes it’s bicenteted turn, but for now, I must bend to the inevitable… er… inevitable.
A caravan must be made ready! The Puzzler Prince and Late Knight have their own lengthy and spectacular ceremonies, and there are bells, and books, and candles to tote and guard.
Many of the pathways are unsafe, and we must allow for battles and threats, so must we depart now, or nearly now.
With luck, we shall make good time to the Grove of the Tree of Light and Tree of Dark.

Festival of Golems, page 1

Every year for PaizoCon (and any other major convention I go to), I do a silly, color commentary about my day rotated through the lens of high fantasy. This year’s begins now.

As always, the last hours before the Festival of Golems are hectic ones. This year’s preparations are more greatly complicated by the ascension of the Last Dragon Scribe, and the Golem Lords’ efforts to anoint wardens to keep those passages he once guarded. I have no doubt the newly dubbed Knight of the Lexicon and Dame of Heralds shall perform their duties well and truly… but there has been no time to test their trials, Further, my own Guild of Astrologicians must make ready for the arrival of the Great Guiding Star, and this leaves us more strained than ever. The Devil’s Advocate guides us well, but I suspect the Puzzler Prince ties of hearing the debates twixt myself and the Leath-Ri of Constellations.

The Altgrave of Paths made his arrival, and brought with him Vivid Voivode, from the Stormlands. We broke bread with them and the Halfling Tyrant, Wit of Wisdom, Citymaker, and Grove Guardian. Vivid Voivoid shall take shelter in our realms, and visit the Festival of Golems regularly. The Altgrave of Paths, of course, has other paths to walk.

I have made most of my wards, and readied those forces I can. There is another day of the neverending battle between runes and time, and then my festival duties begin in earnest.

My PaizoCon 2017 Schedule!

Heya Folks! PaizoCon is upon us! Here’s my schedule!

THURSDAY

I’ll be around the hotel beginning Thursday late afternoon-early evening, but I’m disappearing for secret meetings for the middle part of that time. Still, I should be around and free to talk to, hang out, buy me drinks, whatever. ☺

FRIDAY

Early — I’ll be around registration somewhere from the opening moments of PaizCon to 8pm or so. Hopefully, I will be pre-caffeinated.

11am – I’ll be running the Pathfinder RPG Delve! It’s free, fast, and fun!

1pm – Seminar! “Enhanced Gaming: Using Props Effectively”

With Jason Keeley and Jessica Price, in Olympic 3

“Join Paizo creative staff for an entertaining discussion of how to bring more of your game out of your head and into players’ hands by using props and other game enhancements.”

5pm – I’ll be running More Pathfinder RPG Delve! More fast! More fun!

SATURDAY

8am – Into the Emerald Star Spire, Part 7

Same game I run every year… but now with lasers!

2pm – Seminar! “Designing an Alien”

With Adam Daigle and Jason Keeley, in Olympic 2

“Get a sneak peak at the Starfinder monster creation rules! Together with Paizo’s elite monster-crafters, you’ll create the statistics for the alien brainstormed in the preceding Concepting Aliens seminar, plus explore the differences between creature creation systems in Starfinder and Pathfinder.”

7pm – PaizoCon Preview Banquet

I’ll be sitting at a table, feel free to come by, sit down if there’s a spare seat, or at least say hi!

SUNDAY

10am – Seminar! – “All About Starfinder”

With Amanda Hamon Kunz, Jason Keeley, Robert G. McCreary, and James L. Sutter, in Olympic 2!

“Your one-stop seminar for all things Starfinder! Get previews of the mechanical differences between Pathfinder and Starfinder, learn about the setting and how it has evolved, hear about upcoming products beyond the Starfinder Core Rulebook, and ask a panel of the game’s creators all your burning questions!”

11am – Seminar! – “Pathfinder & Starfinder Compatible Publishers Workshop”

With Liz Courts and Ashley Kaprielian, in Olympic 2

“Get a detailed overview of the Pathfinder Compatibility License, and learn the ins and outs of producing Pathfinder and Starfinder material, and learn what pitfalls might await a beginning business owner.”

1pm – Into the Emerald Star Spire, Part 8

More of the same game I run every year… but now with more lasers!

MONDAY

12pm – Seminar! “Starfinder Versus Pathfinder”

With Jason Keeley and Robert G. McCreary, in Olympic 2

“Starfinder evolved from the Pathfinder RPG, but plenbty has changed along the way. Come find out about the game mechanics of the new game, and askl top Starfinder developers all your questions!”

2pm — Miniatures Trading Afterparty!

Hosted by Erik Mona, in the Hotel Bar

Bring things you think are cool but don’t need, and try to trade them for things that you need but don’t have!

Top Ten Signs Your New Player Doesn’t “Get” Your Superhero RPG Game

Top Ten Signs Your New Player Doesn’t “Get” Your Superhero RPG Game

10. Whenever the PCs catch crooks who have committed a crime, the new player rifles through the criminals’ possessions and begins “treasure division” of the stolen goods among the other players.

9. All his proposed Secret IDs are characters from Star Wars. Mostly Boba Fett..

8. He tries to reboot an old Bunnies and Burrows character, as Captain Furry. Who has a “mind yiffing” psychic attack. Which he describes in over-graphic detail.

7. His first ten suggested Hero names are Stab Lad, The Stalker, Bruisertron, Gandalf, Stuff Man, Enabler, Orange Avenger, Defibrillator Dan, Restraining Order, and Boba Fett. All ten proposed names are for the same character.

6. When he finally settles on naming his hero Captain Crimson Confessor, he insists his secret cave-based church complex be called “The Apse-Hole.”

5. The term “Rao Fundamentalist” creeps into your gaming lexicon. It is not a complement.

4. When asked if he’s playing a Golden Age or Silver Age character concept, he asks how many extra gp a Golden Age character gets.

3. The new hero pawns his Congressional Medal of Honor, and uses the money gained to pay for beer and a trip to Disneyland.

2. His first character concept is a “half-hero, half-Vulcan, with Mommy issues.”

1. The character retires, to study the socio-economic factor that lead to citizens putting on costumes and committing illegal acts under assumed nom de maux.

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