Monthly Archives: April 2020
On Creatives During A Pandemic
Hey, creative person.
I get it. You have deadlines, and responsibilities, and bills, and people counting on you. People tell you to be kind to yourself, to take a break, to ease up… and you can’t.
I understand. I promise.
Only you can know what can be back-burnered, and what can’t. I won’t pretend to be able to give you advice on that front.
I also want to assure you, the trouble you are having now focusing on things? The lack of spoons, or inspiration, or concentration?
That’s the new normal. I can’t say we are ALL dealing with it. Maybe there are some folks who aren’t having trouble right now. But I haven’t talked to any creative that isn’t.
There’s an additional cognitive load on all of us. Worry, planning, concern, frustration, fear… those things take a toll. that toll comes directly from your brain.
The brain you use to be creative.
So, while I can’t tell you to take a break, or take it easy (because I don’t know if you are in a place where you CAN do that), I do want to encourage you to remember things are not normal.
Whatever you would do if you had something dragging down — illness, technical problems, jury duty, whatever?
Global pandemic qualifies for the same measures.
And everyone gets that.
Hazardous Junk, for GammaFinder and Starfinder
In the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, junk has eldritch potential.
There are a slew of spells designed to make things out of junk, at least briefly. These include:
Technomancer 1 junk armor, junksword I
Technomancer 2 junksword II, vigilant junkbot
Technomancer 3 handy junkbot, healing junkbot, junksword III
Technomancer 4 junksword IV
Technomancer 5 junksword V
Technomancer 6 battle junkbot, junksword V
But those spells are all designed to just use NORMAL junk. And in GammaFinder in particular (and to a lesser extend other Starfinder settings), junk may be different. It may be… hazardous. And surely, that makes spells created with it different, right?
(art by Argus)
Hazardous junk cannot be safely kept for longer than 24 hours. After that time you either get rid of it, or make a Fortitude save with a DC of 10 + 3d20. On a failed save, you move 1 step down the affliction track of a randomly-determined ability score. You make a new save each day at the same DC to see if you move back up that track, but if you keep the hazardous junk, you also must keep saving against it.
Hazardous junk is thus normally only used by junkamancers if there happens to be some nearby when they cast a spell. These are the three most common types of hazardous junk.
Biohazard Junk: When you cast a junk spell on biohazard junk, you must make a caster level check (DC 10 + triple the level of spell +1d10 based on level of biohazard). If you succeed, the biological material in the junk absorbs some of the magic, and the spell’s duration is doubled. If you fail, the biological meterial eats away at the magic, and the spell’s duration is halved.
Chemical Hazard Junk: If you successfully damage an adjacent creature made of or protected by this junk (such as someone with junk armor, or any form of junkbot), you must make a Fortitude save (same DC as a spell of that level cast by the creator of the junkspell) or take 1 point of acid damage per 2 levels of the junk spell (minimum 1 point of damage).
If you are made of or protected by such junk, you take 1 point of untyped damage a round.
Radiation Hazard Junk: The first time you successfully damage an adjacent creature made of or protected by this junk (such as someone with junk armor, or any form of junkbot), you are exposed to low-level radiation which bypasses any armor protection you have.
If you hold or wear any such junk, you are exposed to low-level raditation, bypassing any armor protection, at the end of the spell’s duration (even if you drop or remove the junk before that).
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Short Fiction: “Carry a Torch Song ” (Sorcerers & Speakeasies)
CARRY A TORCH SONG
(A Sorcerers & Speakeasies short story)
Felspethe moved silently from her office to the interior balcony overlooking the main room, her form concealed in the dark shadows the balcony’s drapes cast from the stage lights hanging just under it. It was a good crowd, tonight. Mostly human, as you’d expect on a Saturday night at an upscale place like the Annwyn Avalon, but with a smattering of feybloods, dworrowfolk, sidhe, and one small block of uroks. She saw with approval that Tam-Tam, the night’s floor manager, was lounging in apparent boredom between the uroks and the nearest humans. It was unlikely anyone would dare bare iron in her club, but it was better if Tam-Tam could calm tensions before they got anywhere near that far if someone had too much to drink.
Or smoke. Or snort.
Her Court was similarly alert, if lazily so. Their dull yellow beaks and dark feathers were nearly invisible in the rafters, up at her balcony’s level, though from time to time a rook or jackdaw would flutter from one beam to another, and sometimes a patron would look up. The larger crows and ravens were much quieter, content to sit in spots picked out before she opened her doors. If they took wing tonight, it would be at her command alone.
One of the largest ravens, nearly three feet from tip of razor-sharp beak to end of it’s tailfeathers, was sitting on the railing of her balcony. It had ignored her when she walked out, but turned it’s head now to regard her with one shiny black eye.
Felspethe smiles. “What catches your attention tonight, Valgrn?”
The corvid’s voice was quiet and deep, very much at odds with its appearance.
“Captain Auburn is back.”
Felspethe raised a long, delicate eyebrow, and scanned the room more carefully. To her annoyance, she couldn’t spot the brazen-headed police agent who should have stood out like a pumpkin in a potato patch.
“Where?” She kept her voice calm — no reason to ruffle the Court.
Valgrn tilted his head and leaned, jutting his beak forward. “There. Standing by the maquette.”
Felspethe’s eyes jumped back to a point they had just slid over, a small roped-off alcove which featured a terracotta statue of a lithe elven figure in clothes a century out of fashion, its face a near match for Felspethe’s own. And sure enough, there was Captain Urielle Auburn, in the smart pinstripe suit that functioned as her uniform nowadays. And, as always, her enruned rifle Killfire was neatly slung over her back, in a well-maintained but obviously military shoulder sheath. The captain’s eyes were boring a whole across the club, though Felspethe didn’t bother to see what she was looking at yet.
Flespethe’s heart fluttered a little, which was almost as annoying as not being able to spot Auburn on her own. She wanted to be annoyed about the rifle, but couldn’t generate any heat behind the feeling. The Annwyn Avalon forbade weapons, but she knew perfectly well a quarter of her patrons concealed some derringer or stiletto. And Auburn could likely flash a badge, or a note from the mayor, and insist on bringing Killfire in anyway.
But most police would have brought something more subtle. It was just so like Urielle to insist on being obvious about it. A smile crept onto the corner of Felspethe’s lips, and it took conscious effort to suppress it.
“Do we know why she’s here?”
Again, Valgrn pointed with his beak, the line of his gesture crossing the steely gaze of Captain Auburn at the location of one of her VIP tables, where a circle of patrons in suits that each cost more than her monthly payroll sat and laughed loudly. The largest of the group was Beula “Breakbone” Jotkin, an ogreblooded uruk famous for being able to punch through brick. No one in the club would want to trade blows with the big enforcer… except Auburn, of course.
But the greater threat was a small man sitting next to Breakbone, and almost certainly paying for her meal. Pleasantly plump, balding and gray-haired, Fodrick Freeburner was the unquestioned head of the Weefolk Beneficent Society… known on the streets as the Halfling Mob. He was an almost cherublike figure, with sparkling eyes and rosy cheeks, who played “Little Father Christmas” in the city’s Yule parade every year.
He was also, Felspethe knew, a merciless criminal mastermind, and a potent necromancer.
She found her mouth suddenly quite dry. If Auburn was here for Freeburner…
“What can you see in the farther branches, my knight?”
As she stroked Valgrn’s feathers, his eyes went from glossy to flat black, as he looked beyond where she could see.
His voice was barely a whisper. “Captain Auburn hunts a killer. She believes it to be Aussker Crackkettle, a minor numbers-runner for Freeburner. Freeburner has kept Crackkettle hidden. She is here to remind him she has gone to war. True war. And that if she does so again, it will not go well for him.”
“And here, tonight?” Felspethe held her breath.
“Captain Auburn will begin no war in your lands. But if Freeburner senses advantage, he may unleash Breakbone upon the captain.”
Valgrn’s eyes regained their normal gleam.
“It is unlikely Freeburner would risk it. But not impossible.”
Felspethe knew the future was too shadowy to ever be sure of anything, and Valgrn had certainly earned her trust with his predictions. But she needed to push the chance of a street war breaking out here, tonight, well into the “impossible” category. And to do that, she needed to make Freeburner wonder if she and her Court would side with him, or Urielle, should blood be spilled. But at the same time, she had to do so in such a way he didn’t perceive it as a threat. She couldn’t operate without his tacit approval.
But she also could not allow Auburn to fight alone. Not again.
“The Captain’s unit in the War, the Stormguard. What was their color song?”
Vagrn’s beak could not smile. Yet, the humor was clear on his face.
“March of Cambreadth. Shall I signal the stage chief to ready for you to perform?”
Felspethe allowed the smile this time. “Indeed. One song, to honor the war hero among us. No one could blame me for that, could they?”
She glanced down again, and was startled to see Urielle looking up at her. She should be invisible here in her balcony, but their eyes locked. Urielle nodded once. And… was that a hint of a smile of her own ?”
Felspethe’s heart pounded but she kept enough composure to simply nod in return, and let her smile bloom to its full glory. Urielle’s eyes widened briefly, and then she looked away quickly.
Felspethe felt the emotions that fueled her mortal form more than food, air, or lifeblood boiling within her. Rather than fight them down, she began to let them coil, where she could access them as needed. This song, this one rare song from the owner of the Annwyn Avalon, would be enough to make anyone considering crossing her pause.
And if it didn’t? Well, Felspethe was sure Urilee Auburn and Killfire would not let her and her court fight alone.
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