Monthly Archives: April 2023

Health Update: CAT Scan, Infections, and Rediagnosis

For background: I had a pulmonary embolism in February 2023, as told in these articles: Part OnePart Two

The bleeding I’d had before that meant I’d already scheduled a colonoscopy to look at it (which was going to happen in May), but my colonoscopy got moved up, as told here.

The bleeding I had already scheduled a colonoscopy to look at (which was going to happen in May) got my colonoscopy moved up, and it happened last week as told here.

That resulted in a cancer diagnosis , and I saw a colorectal surgeon as told here. Then a cardiologist, as told here. Then I was nearly tortured by an MRI, as told here

And, before we get into the update, I want to mention there are two massive multipublisher bundles of products on DriveThruRPG right now that are fundraisers for my growing medical debt. each has more than $700 of pdfs, from 16+ different companies, for a dozen different ttRPGs (including some core ruelbooks!), as well as maps, figures, stock art, and so on. Each is just $34.95, and will only be available through May 15th.

Bundle #1:
Bundle #2:

Okay, back to the update.

After the gauntlet that was the MRI ([videogamevoice]”Owen needs imaging, badly!”[/videogamevoice]), the CAT scan had me worried. Yes, everyone assured me that it would be faster and easier than the MRI, but I’d been given assurances about Frank the Monstrous Research Instrument tooo, and they hadn’t panned out.

So as not to bury the lede, the Calamitous Analyzing Torus process itself was fine. Katty the CAT Scan got all her pain and misery out of me in advance.

Since the hole thing was supposed to take 15 minutes, I thought I’d been in and out with an hour. I arrived, checked in, and was asked if I’d drunk any contrast.

“Ah… no. Haven’t eaten any glue, either, if that matters.”

(It didn’t.)

So, it turned out I had to drink 40 oz of contrast before the scan, and then 30 minutes after that I could go in. Now, I am sure that the medical industry knows what it’s doing, and if I had been alert enough to pick up on this, I could have selected a flavor of contrast that would be appealing (at least when graded on the scale of medicinal liquids). “Grape,” maybe, or “cherry,” which seem popular flavors for cough syrups and antibiotics to brutally ruin forever.

But since I was getting my contrast at the hospital, I had to take whatever they had left. And, given the taste, I can only assume the flavor I was given was “Pocket Lint, Extra Musty.” Which might not have been as bad as I make it sound  except it was also wet (if felt like I was drinking Essence of Dryer Fuzz with Extra Cat Hair), and it came in a Big Size Me Damnit-scale cup.

But I got it down (and KEPT it down, which was the greater accomplishment), got wheeled in, and got to see Katty the CAT scan. Where Frank the MRI was a long, dark Time Tunnel into the unknown, Katty was a Stargate of Medical Information. There’s no position you can be in it where you can’t see the room, and I found that very comforting.

Like Frank, Katty was going to require an injection toward the end, so we needed to get an IV in me. The tech got everything set up, confirmed I was on blood thinner, had a gauze pad ready, injected the needle, and…

Blood went everywhere.

The tech actually squeaked. Blood squirted all over their hands. It pooled on the floor. It sprayed droplets on Katty CAT. The tech moved my arm so I wouldn’t get blood all over my clothes. They called for backup. For all the world, it was like my vein was a tiny hose, and they’d stuck their thumb over the mouth of it. It took two people to strap down the needle and get the bleeding to stop. They were shocked. I was shocked.

Katty CAT was appeased. My blood offering was acceptable.

Once that was settled, I had no issues with Katty CAT. Despite being exactly the same diameter as Frank the MRI, my vasty deep of blubber didn’t touch the sides of the CAT scan (I knew Frank had been screwing with me on purpose). It took the 15 minutes promised, made no frightening noises, didn’t try to burn me. I even got to keep my glasses on. (Good thing, too, or I couldn’t have read the sign on Katty CAT that said “Intense Laser In Use. Do Not Look Here,” which is exactly the sign you shouldn’t be squinting at to try to understand).

I didn’t get the results back for a week, but when I did it was good news. Beyond the two tumors we already knew about, there was no sign of cancer anywhere else in my gastrointestinal track. So, yay! 

Speaking of a “Yay” moment, when my MRI was looked at by an MRI doctor, they concluded I was at early Stage 2 cancer, which was a bummer. (If by “bummer,” you mean “bringing of existential dread and depression,” which is in fact what I normally mean when I say bummer.) We’d been hoping for early Stage 1.


I saw my oncologist last week, who had more time to go over the MRI images, and consult with the rest of my medical team, and get additional info from various scans, tests, samples, and I think a small gnome named Burthug who makes “Pocket Lint, Extra Musty”-flavored medical liquidsand repalced elf-on-a-shelf for cancer patients.

That group rediagnosed me. Not as early Stage 2, but as late Stage 1.

Now, that may sound like a small difference. But it’s huge, for me. Among other things, it means I may well not need chemo and radiation before surgery. It also boosts my 5-year survival rate up into the 90%+ range.

Which lead to this exchange.

Doctor: “You definitively have Stage 1 cancer.”
Me: ‘Yay!”

… Some things you never expect to cheer.

Now, it’s not all roses and bon bons. This past week, my housemate went to have his own surgery, and my wife and I were going to go with him, wait for him to come out, see how he’s doing, and so on. We needed to leave the house at 4:30 am. I was awake well before that, and not feeling well. By 4am, we took my temperature. 102.2


We did a quick Covid test, which was negative, but clearly I needed to not be going to a hospital to breath on *other* people. We called my doctor as soon as her office was open, and she had me come in immediately. My sister had to drive me, because our housemate was in surgery, my wife is still recovering from her hysterectomy, our good friend Carl was with our housemate… Thank goodness my support system is so deep.

The doctor’s office took a lot of my bodily fluids, and wanted to send me to the ER. Why the ER? Because my symptoms could be Covid after all. Or the flu, or a UTI, or a bacterial infection, or spreading cancer, or pneumonia, or even another pulmonary embolism…

So the doctor thought I should go to the ER, and figured I’ll be there 2-3 days. I freaked out.

In the end, the Care Coordinator at that office convinced the doctor NOT to send me to the ER… yet… so I wouldn’t be sitting around with a compromised immune system where other people are sick. They send me to the hospital for testing and evaluation. I tested for everything. (Including pneumonia, and x-rays are not cheap.) At the last moment, they decide I could go home, with an antibiotic pill the size of my pinky toe. But they gave me a long list of red flags. If any of them hit, I was to call 911 for the ER, no delay.

That night, well after office hours, my doctor called me from her home. They had the results from my first round of bloodwork, and my white blood cell count was “extremely high.” Again, she thought I should go to the ER. I told her my fever had broken and I was feeing better (both true), and got tentative permission to avoid the ER. But I was to not hesitate a minute if I felt even a little worse. My numbers said that is could be sepsis, and could become deadly overnight.

Also, I was seeing her again right after that. And her care coordinator called on me twice the next day to check on me, as did the home health nurse. Everyone gave me side-eye, but I stayed just under the red flags, and got to stay at home.

I did get better, and when I saw her next she was satisfied with my progress. Final tests had come in and I did have a UTI… in that I had a massive kidney infection, had gone septic, and the infection had spread down frim my kidneys to everything else downhill from it. (Even bacteria like a nice waterslide.) She confirmed that I SHOULD have stopped fighting on gone to the ER… but the antibiotic they put me on was exactly the right one for this infection, and I was now out of the danger zone.

So, I’m out of the danger zone (yes, this one), and everyone is recovering… slowly. I’m exhausted. Lj is exhausted. Our housemate is exhausted. My sister is exhausted.

But hey, Stage 1 cancer! Woot!

Campaign Pitch: The Mirk

On 3/25/23, as asteroid 2023 DZ2 passed between the Earth and the Moon, all power went out from L 97° W east to L 32° W  — a zone encompassing nearly half the planet, including the eastern US and Canada, all of South America and Europe, most of Africa, and the western edges of Russia.

And it stayed out.

The power-killing effect reached high enough to knock out any satellite that passed above the affected area. Most global communications systems collapsed.  Further, light and radio waves were shifted and fell off quickly. No explanation could be found.

The zone was dubbed “The Mirk.”

Within days it was found that no electricity could exist in the Mirk unless it was part of an internal, biological process, light shifted towards blue, and broadcast signals became hopelessly garbled. Storms within the Mirk, unable to dissipate energy through lightning, began to regularly unleash hurricane-force winds, torrential rains, hail, and tornadoes. Weather patterns outside the Mirk also became more violent, thought not to the same degree, and often with massive lightning displays. 

Within weeks, billions had died. Thousands of cities and towns in the Mirk were abandoned. While the highest death tolls by far were within the Mirk, several societies “In the Light” collapsed as well, and millions of deaths were brought about by needless panic, civil war, and violent opportunism.

(Art by Cerafts)

Years passed. In the global chaos Australia, China, and Russia became the main world powers, with the Japan-Taiwan Coalition and eventually the new nation of Cascadia — formed from the west coasts of the old nations of Canada and the US — not far behind.

Reports of strange creatures and events within the Mirk were dismissed as rumor, panic, and even intentional disinformation for years. Bodies of such creatures brought out of the Mirk decomposed within hours, and were discredited as misidentification or hoaxes. All that changed six years after the Mirk arose, as massive creatures with the most dangerous elements of bars, rhinos, and spitting cobras began charging out of the murk, and surviving for 20-30 hours before beginning to die and decompose.

It’s now 2033, and the exploration of the Mirk has begun in earnest. The two largest centers of Mirk expeditions and study are at the University of Oklahoma and Bauman Moscow State Technical University, both located near one Mirk edge. New technologies have been developed, with cameras designed with modern materials but centuries-old chemical and flash powder components, vehicles driven by diesel compression and even steam engines, and a wide range of clockwork and chemical devices.

Things are definitely happening within the Mirk. Some makeshift cobbled-together devices have been found with strange functions that only work within the  Mirk, making them difficult to study with any advanced science. Bizarre creatures grow increasingly common and dangerous. But also, polluted air and water gets sucked into the Mirk, and emitted clear, without plastics, greenhouse gasses, or toxins.

And there are still people living in the Mirk. Most of them don’t like or acknowledge the authority of outsides. Some have… powers. Powers that explorers in the Mirk sometimes develop after enough exposure, but do not function outside the powerless zone. By the same token, most people from the Powered Zone who spend too much time in the Mirk get sick if they return too often. Only a tiny percentage of Powered humanity and animals seem able to sustain repeated or long-term Mirk visits. 

And reports of strange, twisted structures growing, blurry flying shapes, and horrific, calm-destroying sounds deep in the Mirk? Well, they aren’t being ignored as early monster reports were.

The Mirk is the greatest mystery and threat to the Powered world. And you are one of the few who seem to survive its environment without harm.

Medical bills continue to pile up. The main ways to support me right now is these two megabundles. Each has more than $700 of pdfs, from 16+ different companies, for a dozen different ttRPGs (including some core rulebooks!), as well as maps, figures, stock art, and so on. Each is just $34.95, and will only be available through May 15th.

Bundle #1:
Bundle #2:
You can also maintain (or even increase) your pledge level at my Patreon, or make a direct contribution at my Ko-Fi.

Health Update: The MRI and Ultrasound

For background: I had a pulmonary embolism in February 2023, as told in these articles: Part OnePart Two

The bleeding I had already scheduled a colonoscopy to look at (which was going to happen in May) got my colonoscopy moved up, and it happened last week as told here.

For background: I had a pulmonary embolism in February 2023, as told in these articles: Part OnePart Two

The bleeding I had already scheduled a colonoscopy to look at (which was going to happen in May) got my colonoscopy moved up, and it happened last week as told here.

That resulted in a cancer diagnosis, and I saw a colorectal surgeon as told here. Then a cardiologist, as told here.

And, before we get into the update, I want to mention there are two massive multipublisher bundles of products on DriveThruRPG right now that are fundraisers for my growing medical debt. each has more than $700 of pdfs, from 16+ different companies, for a dozen different ttRPGs (including some core ruelbooks!), as well as maps, figures, stock art, and so on. Each is just $34.95, and will only be available through May 15th.

Bundle #1:
Bundle #2:

Okay, back to the update.

After the waves of initial diagnosis and consultations with new doctors, there was a period of just follow-ups and check-ins and home health and scheduling, where nothing much moved forward on my diagnosis. I found this frustrating, as there’s a mass growing inside me that will kill me if we don’t get rid of it, and the longer it sits there, the harder it’ll be to evict once and for all. I’m currently less afraid than pissed off, and if it’s not going to pay rent and be a bad tenant of my internal organs, I want the little fucker out of me.

I’ve fought gelatinous blobs in ttRPGs. I want to roll for initiative, and stab it before it subsumes me.

But we are still at the scouting and planning to plan stage of this process, and I know that. But last week we had a big step forward in those efforts, with the MRI to map out my cancer and, a few days later, the ultrasound to see if my blood clots (from the pulmonary embolism) are breaking up.

Despite early fears there might not be an MRI machine that could bear the weight of my magnificence — wide-girthed god of game design I am — it turned out a single center one town north of us DOES have a jumbotron-edition MRI with a 500 lb. weight limit. I was 490 when I got my diagnosis, and am 470 now (due to intentional weight loss, not wasting away), so that seemed ideal. And, last Thursday, a friend drove me up to get my money-shot-region bombarded with magnetic fields and radio waves so we’d know just how far the cancer has spread into, and perhaps past, my butt tubes.

>>(As an aside… if I end up getting chemo and radiation therapy, I FULLY intend on developing superpowers. I know millions of people have gone through these processes and never ended up with telekinesis or whatever, but then no one gained superpowers from drinking too much soda until Elongated Man did it. But given the MRI was aimed squarely at my crotch, it is perhaps for the best that it didn’t happen this time. The *might* be characters with crotch-based superpowers that aren’t at maximum cringe, but I can’t think of any.)<<

I was as prepared for the MRI as I could be. My cPTSD is much more active atm, almost certainly from a combination of suffering through the pulmonary embolism and being told I have cancer, and I already know it can manifest as social anxiety. This is especially true anytime I don’t deeply understand what I am supposed to be doing, where I will go, what I’ll be asked for, in a new setting. So, I studied MRI procedures from a patent point of view, called the center and confirmed what entrance I should use, where I’d register, what preparations I should make in advance, how long it should take, and so on.

Normally my wife would (often literally) hold my hand for extra emotional support, but this time she couldn’t. With her having her own surgery scheduled for this week, and our housemate having his next week, there have been numerous overlapping medical appointments and she had one the same time I needed my MRI. But my support system is deep here in my hometown, and a dear friend of 40-or-so years gave me a ride, and waited for me to be done so he could drive me home.

After all, he noted, he wanted me to be around to keep GMing in years to come. He was, of course, joking. … Mostly.

Everything went smoothly through check in, and in advance I want to say the staff and technicians were professional, empathic, efficient, creative, and courteous. I have nothing but praise for them.

And yeah, that’s foreshadowing. The people were tremendous. The Great And Terrible Machine? It was a torturous beast.

As soon as the technicians saw me, they had a concern. See, all the doctors, nurses, aids, and assistants that had found the Great And Terrible Machine and scheduled my appointment had only been worried about its weight capacity. But the technicians, the people who actually USED La Machine? They were worried about my… diameter.

The Great And Terrible Machine is a room-sized mega-magnet with a tube through it. To image you, they stick you in the tube on a slab, on tracks. There is no adjusting the size of that tube. Its size is its size. And no matter how much I weighed, the technicians were worried my “Round Peg” cross-section outclassed the Great and Terrible Machine’s “Round Hole.”

So, prior to getting an IV in me, or any other prep, the technicians asked if I was okay doing a test fitting. I was, and we rolled me in, and checked me for metal. See, the Great and Terrible machine can, really, rip metal from your hands once you get close and its on. Now, I had done my best to wear demetaled clothing, but my pants had a zipper. But it was small and the only metal, so the techs decided all they needed to do was lower my pants down around my ankles, rather than remove them.

I learned an important lesson. Being without your pants definitely reduces your level of formality. But having them down around your ankles makes you look and feel like a doofus.

The first effort to cram me into La Machine was a failure. I turned into the worlds biggest muffin-top only halfway in. So they removed the pad on the gurney, lowered it to its lowest setting, and tried again. My gutdonkagut could be crammed in, but my arms were too much to go with. So, I asked if I could have my arms above my head, and, blinking in surprise, the techs agreed that could work.

And then I juuuuuuust fit. With my pants around my ankles, my arms crossed above my head, laying flat on a metal slab, and my belly and flank-fat pressed up against the inside of The Great And Terrible Machine’s metal inner lining. And if that sounds bad, I just want to reassure you that is was much, much worse than you think.

For one thing, the metal skin of the inside of an MRI gets HOT. Like, burn-your-skin hot. So, the techs crammed buffers between my flubbula and the rounded inner casing of the microwave-of-doom. Second, I could only breathe shallowly. I have breath-panic at the best of times, but here my arms are wrenched up above my head, my oxygen tank is banned (because its metal), and I had to take slow, shallow breaths. There was no other option. A deep breath was impossible.

Also, I am mildly claustrophobic, and I was stuffed into the Great And Terrible Machine feet-first up to my eyeballs. My doctor had prescribed an anti-anxiety pill, but when I asked for it, the techs told me this facility has NO pharmacy. The prescription was useless. On top of that, I was pressed up against the inside so tightly the techs were not 100% sure La Machine would work properly. So, they asked, did I want to proceed, while pantsed, immobilized, breath constricted, unmedicated, near panic, and at risk of skin burns?

How long was this going to take, I asked?

“About an hour.”

“Fuck it, let’s do this.”

See, this MRI was the *only* way to get a good idea what stage my cancer is at, and it makes the best roadmap for whatever doctor eventual turns me into a gutless wonder by despooling my bowls and taking the renegade polyps and their encroaching invasion flesh with them. As much as I wanted to scream in terror and waddle away to safety, I promised my wife I would put my health first. I have received so much support from so many people. Surely I could manage one hour being Princess-Bride-Tortured and having my life sucked away, right?

“As you wish,” said the techs.

Then at last it was time for the IV, as I would be getting contrast shot into my veins at the end of this process. The first two efforts to get me hooked up failed (and left me a drink-coaster-sized bruise… “Oh, you’re on blood thinners!” “Yes, yes I am.” But they got it hooked up eventually.) After all that, they made me promise that if my skin got too hot, like if I was developing a nice sear, I’d squeeze the panic bulb. It was, they told me, going to get hot. But I should squeeze before it got TOO hot. Hot was okay, but too hot was too late, so… panic casual?

And then they gave me earplugs, crammed be back into the Great and Terrible machine like stuffing 16 oz of sausage into an 8 oz casing, and walked away. It was just me and… I don’t want to keep saying  the Great and Terrible Machine. Let’s call it Frank.

So, Frank began his work. With a scream.

I was told the MRI would be loud. I was NOT told it would make a sound like a Martian Tripod war-horn mixed with the air raid siren from Silent Hill, but that is what it began with. Frank would continue to do that, as far as I could tell at random, for the next hour.

As accompaniment, Frank added in unpredictable combinations of terrible iron drum percussion riffs, off-key R2-D2 impressions, and a sound I can only describe as partway between a clothes drying starting up and some asshole loudly slurping the last of a chunky milkshake out of the bottom of a cup with a metal straw. All of this was overwhelming, and more than a little startling. And when startled, I’d try to gasp in surprise, only to be forcefully reminded I was physically constrained from gasping. Which would make me begin to panic. So I’d want to take deep, slow breaths to calm myself… which was also impossible.

It sucked. And it was hot. SUPER hot. I did not burn… but I came close to deciding it was too hot more than one. Having to worry about whether I was waiting too long to cry for help because I was cooking just made the whole experience suck more.

Speaking of sucking… I thought that once I was shoved up to my eyeballs into Frank (and THERE is a sentence I never thought I’d write), that I wouldn’t be moving anymore. It turns out I was denied critical, need-to-know information. See, again at random intervals (but always just as I thought I could handle the claustrophobia), Frank would jerk me another inch into his sweltering metal embrace. So, then, panic, effort at a deep breath, can’t breath… and then kicked back OUT by an inch.

After the first set of images, about 12 minutes, the tech came out to see if I had gouged my own eyeballs out yet (I hadn’t… quite), and wanted to know if I was good to proceed. And I asked, as calmly as I could (which was a calm of 7 on a scale of 1-to-132), if we were getting images. Was Frank actually functioning, despite the “snug” fit of my vast bulk inside the cylindrical oven that was the magnetic resonance camera? Because I tell you now friends, if it wasn’t, I was OUT of there.

“Oh, yeah,” said the tech cheerfully. “We’re getting GREAT images.”

Well, fuck. … Oh, wait. I mean yay.


And so it went, session after session. Some were 6 minutes. One was 15. The techs checked on me every time. Made sure my arms weren’t too cramped. Told me how long the next session would be. Importantly, made sure I knew I was not alone, and it was in my power to make it stop at any time. And, while the entire experience was horrific (and when I got home, I cried into the flank of my housemate’s cat for a good hour), that was the one crucial difference between this and real torture.

I had the power to stop it, and that power was reinforced repeatedly. It was my call, and the techs made sure I knew they’d respect it, and act on it immediately.

But I was still stuck in a metal tube being bombarded by unpleasant sensations without being able to shift or breath for an hour. By the time we were down to the last bout of Frank’s horror-show of sound, heat, and claustrophobia, and the tech injected what felt like acidic icewater into my veins, my mouth was dry, and my voice cracking. But I got through it, and I got home.

The techs told me it might take several days to get the report, but it arrived in my inbox the next day.

When I was originally diagnosed, everyone told me we could hope I still had just Stage 0 cancer. When that was ruled out, the doctors talked in terms of hoping it was a Stage 1 cancer.

My time with Frank revealed I have Stage 2 rectal cancer. However, it’s at early Stage 2 — it hasn’t moved into my lymph nodes, there’s no sign it’s spread any further than my intestines. Basically, it’s as good as the news can be if it’s Stage 2. Most likely treatment remains chemo, radiation, then surgery, possibly followed by more chemo and radiation to prevent recurrence.

Thanks a lot, Frank. (No, sincerely, Better to know. Thanks, Frank.)

Still it an emotional gut punch for me. And while I was still trying to process the trauma-connected aftermath of the events of the MRI, I had to get ready for the ultrasound. Just thinking about another diagnostic process made my palms sweaty and my mouth dry (which, if you ask me, is a sign of bad plumbing connections). But my wife could be with me that time, so I girded my loins, sucked it up, and went to get another test.

It took about 15 minutes, and it tickled a little. No results on it, yet. And, as I write this, I need to get ready for my wife to have her own surgery (hysterectomy) tomorrow at 7:30 am, and then to get a CAT scan at the same facility as the MRI the day after that.

… I wonder if Frank’s friend Cat will be nice?

The two massive multi-publisher mega-bundles linked above 9adn right here — ) to help over medical costs are the main way to support me through May 15th. In addition to buying them, sharing links you see about them and telling your friends to look at them are a huge help. You can also join (or even increase your pledge level to) my Patreon, or make a direct contribution at my Ko-Fi.

Horrifically Overpowered Archetype Dedication Feats for PF2

Thursday Blogs are Back!

My Patreon has hit the funding level needed for my to go back to posting my full Thursday blogs on this Patreon. Thanks for your support!

HOF Dedication Feats for PF2

On Tuesday I did a few Pathfinder 2e Horrifically Overpowered Feats (HOF), including an Overpowered Rogue Dedication feat, which was extremely popular. The one comment was, “Now ALL the classes need overpowered dedication feats!”

Okay, fair enough. As long as we are making feats no on should ever use for any purpose, we might as well spread out the overpoweredness evenly.

Here’s six new Overpowered Dedication feats, along with slight rewrite of the earlier Overpowered Rogue Dedication feat. 

[Archetype][Dedication]Multiclass][Horrifically Overpowered]
Prerequisites Intelligence 14; Alchemist Dedication or Alchemist Class
Select an alchemist’s research field you do not already have. You gain all the benefits of this research field, using your class level as your alchemist level to determine those benefits.
Special: This counts as a feat from the alchemist archetype for purposes of the Alchemist Dedication feat.

[Archetype][Dedication]Multiclass][Horrifically Overpowered]
Prerequisites Strength 14; Constitution 14; Barbarian Dedication or Barbarian Class
Select a barbarian’s instinct you do not already have. You gain all the benefits of this instinct, using your class level as your barbarian level to determine those benefits.
Special: This counts as a feat from the barbarian archetype for purposes of the Barbarian Dedication feat.

[Archetype][Dedication]Multiclass][Horrifically Overpowered]
Prerequisites Charisma 14; Bard Dedication or Bard Class
Select a bard’s muse you do not already have. You gain all the benefits of this muse, using your class level as your bard level to determine those benefits. Two levels after taking this HOF, you also gain one bard feat with this muse as a prerequisite.
Special: This counts as a feat from the bard archetype for purposes of the Bard Dedication feat.

[Archetype][Dedication]Multiclass][Horrifically Overpowered]
Prerequisites Strength 14; Charisma 14; Champion Dedication or Champion Class
Select a champion’s cause you do not already have. You do not have to match its alignment, nor choose another deity or be bound by another anathema. You gain the 1st-level benefits of this cause.
Special: This counts as a feat from the champion archetype for purposes of the Champion Dedication feat.

[Archetype][Dedication]Multiclass][Horrifically Overpowered]
Prerequisites Wisdom 14; Cleric Dedication or Cleric Class
Select a domain from a deity that allows worshipers of your alignment. It does not have to be your deity, you don’t worship that deity, nor do you suffer the deity’s anathema. You are considered to have this domain for all purposes, and gain the domain’s initial domain spell as a devotion spell.
Special: This counts as a feat from the cleric archetype for purposes of the Cleric Dedication feat.

[Archetype][Dedication]Multiclass][Horrifically Overpowered]
Prerequisites Wisdom 14; Druid Dedication or Druid Class
Select a druid order you do not have. You are considered to have this order for all purposes and gain all the abilities of that order, but not its anathema.
Special: This counts as a feat from the druid archetype for purposes of the Druid Dedication feat.

[Archetype][Dedication]Multiclass][Horrifically Overpowered]
Prerequisites Dexterity 14; Rogue Dedication or Rogue Class
Select a rogue’s racket you do not already have. You gain all the benefits of this racket, using your class level as your rogue level to determine those benefits.
Special: This counts as a feat from the rogue archetype for purposes of the Rogue Dedication feat.

While I expect to be launching a massive multi-publisher mega-bundle to help over medical costs within a week, the main way to support me right now is to maintain (or even increase) your pledge level at my Patreon, or make a direct contribution at my Ko-Fi.

Let’s Create: Horrifically Overpowered PF2 Feats

Despite my marketing it as a product you should not use, and shouldn’t even buy, one of the most popular books I wrote for PF1 was “The Genius Guide to Horrifically Overpowered Feats.” In fact, it was so popular, we went on to produce 4 more “Horrifically Overpowered” PF1 books, and one “Horrifically Overpowered Feats” book for Starfinder.

So, obviously, I have to do at least one HOF (“Horrifically Overpowered Feats”) books for PF2. I was originally going to release one in early 2020 but… stuff… happened. So now I have part of a manuscript, a backlog of other projects that are late and higher-priority, and a tiny fraction of the time I can work each week.

Which, of course, is why my brain has been hammer on this project for days. And, since I also have an obligation to product blog posts for my Patreon backers, this seems like a great subject to get some gaming content back in these posts. Now, since my Tuesday posts are Patreon exclusive (until my Patreon reaches $1,500 a month). I’m not giving the full article here, which includes a design diary looking at how a Horrifically Overpowered feat is conceived and developed, from start to finish.

But I AM presenting 3 HOF that were the result of that development process. So you get the sausage here on my free blog, just not the longer article that shows how it was made.

(Art by Jesse-Lee Lang)

OVER ACTIVE          [Feat 1]
[General][Horrifically Overpowered]
You simply get more done in a few seconds than others. You gain a fourth action each round, which can only be used for Stride, Strike, or a manipulate action that is not an attack or the Cast A Spell activity. If you make a fourth attack in a round, it suffers the same multiple-attack penalty as if it was your third attack.

OVER REACTIVE          [Feat 1]
[General][Horrifically Overpowered]
You simple react more quickly than others. You gain a second reaction each round. You can’t use it to target a creature with an activity you have already targeted the same creature with this round.

[Archetype]-Dedication]Multiclass][Horrifically Overpowered]
Prerequisites Dexterity 14; Rogue Dedication or Rogue Class
Select a rogue’s racket you do not already have. You gain all the benefits of this racket, using your class level as your rogue level for any level-dependent calculations.
Special: This counts as a feat from the rogue archetype for purposes of the Rogue Dedication feat.

Now, I just need 20 more pages of Horrifically Overpowered Feats for PF2, and I can make a product!

Support A number of folks have asked about helping me cover my medical expenses as I recover from my pulmonary embolism, and prepare to battle my cancer. While I’ll do a GoFundMe if I absolutely have to, and expect there to be more product bundles to raise funds come April, the main way to support me right now is to join (or increase your pledge level) at my Patreon, or make a direct contribution at my Ko-Fi.

How Elementary School Taught Me to Hate School

This retrospective is a bit darker than most of my posts, and has almost nothing to do with gaming. It is a big part of the forces that shaped me into the person I have become, but there’s nothing directly related to tabletop. This has grown out of my ongoing work on my mental health, which has taken a special focus (with a home health psychiatric nurse and new antidepressant cocktail) in the wake of having a pulmonary embolism and being diagnosed with cancer. So if reading about the petty ugliness I faced in 1st-5th grade isn’t something you’ll enjoy please, skip this.

I hate school.

Growing up, I was the *only* person in my family who hated school. I barely graduated from High School, and flunked out of two semesters of college in a row. I was also in various “gifted and talented” classes, which I inevitably aced. It drove my parents, grandparents, teachers, and sometimes even my sister crazy.

But I didn’t start life hating school. I was taught to hate school, with lessons that were implanted far more firmly and effectively than reading (which I was already voraciously doing on my own before school gave me primers way below my ability), writing (which I came to only later, and only due to my love of geek media), and ‘rithmetic (which I also only turned to once gaming made it mandatory, although I had a great home environment and advantage for that one, and wow was it stupid for them to misspell one of the things they were trying to teach us when spelling was also on the curriculum).

Now, I’ll say up front — these events are more than 40 years old. Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable, memories subject to change over time, and children’s impressions aren’t always accurate. There was no Facebook or AOL to record these events back then, and I wasn’t journaling yet. So, the fine details and years might be off a bit. But these are defining moments for me, and my memories of them are extraordinarily clear. And the lessons learned? They were firmly installed and reinforced again and again.

I was among the youngest in my classes at every school. The cutoff for waiting to the next year was November 1st, and I was born October 28th. A few years after I started, they moved it back to September 1st, but I resisted being held back to repeat any classes by the time that happened. I already hated school, so an extra year of it? Out of the question.

I have exactly 0 memories of preschool. So, you know, it must have been fine. Maybe I was okay being taught to share, or blocks, or whatever the lessons at age 3-4 were.

I did half a year of kindergarten in California, because my father was a university professor on sabbatical. We had a cheap apartment in California, in a very multicultural neighborhood, and some of the kids began to teach me a little Spanish. But the bussing program required I be shipped far from that neighborhood to an entirely-white school, where I was told *not* to speak any Spanish, and where the teachers had no idea what turtle doves looked like. (That’s a different story.)

In 1st grade, we got a math problem on an in-class math sheet, which was simply “1 – 2 = ?” Now, we hadn’t been introduced to negative numbers, but my grandfather was a professor and doctor of mathematics. My father had a Masters in math, and was a professor of economics. In 1st grade, I perfectly well knew what negative numbers were. So, I wrote “-1.”

The next day I got the paper back, and that was marked wrong. Just a big red checkmark through it. There were only 10 questions on the sheet, and I got the other 9 right, so I got a 90%. But… why wasn’t the answer -1?

So, I took the sheet to my father that night, and he read it over very carefully, and assured me I was right. And he wrote a note on the back, and I took it back to my teacher. She read the note, and told me “Yes, that would be correct. Except we’re not doing negative numbers yet, so you shouldn’t use them in your answers.”

Back to my father, to explain why I was “wrong” after all. And then, for literally the only time in my life, my father went to school to talk to one of my teachers on anything other than a teacher-parent conference. (And by the time I was in 6th grade his alcoholism had progressed to where he didn’t even attend those anymore.) He wanted to know why correct answers were disallowed. The teacher assured him it was a typo, not supposed to be on the sheet. Okay, he said, but why are correct answers disallowed? Well, Owen got an A anyway, she said. Okay, but why are correct answers disallowed? I’ll change his grade, she said. But… why are correct answers disallowed?

She promised it wouldn’t happen again and, satisfied, my father went home. On my next paper, I was marked off for not writing all my last name. I ran out of room after “Owen S-t-e-p-h-e,” and figured that was good enough. No, my teacher told me, it’s not. And, did I want my father to come argue about it?

Right. Lesson learned.

And then constantly reinforced.

(That same teacher also claimed that men had 1 less rib than women, because God had taken a rib from man to make Woman. I *did* ask my parents about that, and they dispelled the notion. But since I had learned not to correct teachers, when they asked me where I had heard that, I just said “at school,” and never corrected the teacher.)

In 2nd grade, very early in the year, we were told to share something we learned over the summer. I shared, with great excitement, what I had learned about the Gossamer Albatross, the first man-powered flying vehicle to win the Kremer prize in 1977, for controlled and sustainable human-powered flight. The teacher interrupted me, and told me to talk about something real, not fictional. I explained this WAS real, and the teacher told me it wasn’t. The class laughed at me. She sent a note home to my parents, who also did not believe me. I had caught the news, and they had all missed it.

There was no Google to quickly find the news. I was 6, searching microfiche files wasn’t a realistic option for me. (I doubt I knew they existed.) For weeks, everyone I knew told me I didn’t know the difference between fictional shows on TV and news updates.

By the time my parents discovered it was real (and did genuinely apologize to me), none of the kids in class cared. I was the weirdo who thought TV shows were real. The teacher still didn’t believe me until I brought a note from home. Then she said she’d tell the class… and never did. Also, she was cold and harsh to me for the rest of the year.

It was another important early lesson. Being right was no defense to being mocked. Proving school authority was wrong didn’t help, and brought retribution. My parents couldn’t fix things.

Also in the 2nd grade I slammed headfirst into my best friend at the time as I was running out a door and he was running in. Got a lump on my head bigger than my mother’s fist, was knocked entirely unconscious. I had to get staples to hold my skull together. Twenty years later the scar was so bad that when I shaved my head to that it was visible, it made my grandmother unable to sit behind me when I drove her around. I had to grow my hair back out. (I suspect it’s not nearly that bad now, if it’s even still visible.) I don’t so much blame the school that this happened, but it certainly didn’t make me like the place more.

In 3rd grade, I ran into a teacher who rapped my knuckles with a ruler anytime I did something with my left hand, especially sign language. She wasn’t my home room teacher, but was in charge of numerous multiclass projects and assemblies, and would come find me and make sure I wasn’t being left-hand dominant. I don’t believe I was truly left-handed, but I did feel comfortable doing different things with different hands, and a lot of that was smacked out of me.

Also in 3rd grade, I was standing on the top of a piece of playground equipment (which I know was taller than any teacher, and I think was 10 feet tall), when another child pulled me off by my leg. I fell on a foot-tall wooden pillar. I cried my heart out. A teacher told me it wasn’t that bad, and I needed to just walk it off. I winced every time I took a step. When I walked home that day with my sister, she asked me why I was wincing. I told her, and assured her I was walking it off. I was still wincing when we walked to school the next day, and back again that afternoon. So, ignoring my pleas not to tell anyone (I had been told it wasn’t that bad, and disagreeing with teachers always made things worse), my sister told our mother, who took a look. The entire left side of my torso was purple and black. She took me to the doctor. I got x-rays, and it turned out every rib on my left side was cracked 3/4 of the way through. I got painkillers, and a buckle-on chest compression wrap to keep them still.

I do blame teachers for both dismissing the injury, and telling me to walk it off.

In 4th grade, we began playing flag football in PE everyday. I was, at the time, fairly sporty. I played community league t-ball and soccer. But I didn’t know the rules to football. And the teacher overseeing the games made no effort to teach us, or to even tell me what I did wrong when I messed up. And when he yelled at me for ignoring a fumble (I didn’t know it was a live ball), or tearing the flag off someone who didn’t have the ball (out is out, right?), the class would laugh at me for being an idiot.

(I also got driven out of soccer and the baseball tracks, and a little later out of wrestling, but those aren’t school-related stories.)

I could, of course, have asked another teacher or my parents to give me the rules. But I had already learned that proving a teacher was doing something wrong made your life harder, not easier. So, I just did my best to get benched, and swore to never take P.E. again if I could avoid it. (Which I did, from 6th-12th grade.)

Also in the 4th grade there was a girl I liked, who liked me. She lived between my house and my school, so I first ran into her on a walk to school. She liked boardgames. I liked boardgames. We began picking each other as partners for projects at school. Then I began stopping by her house on my walk home for a couple of hours to play boardgames with her. Simple things, like Pay Day (where I first heard the term “Flugelhorn,” which I thought was the funniest word ever). My family ended up adopting her family’s female orange tabby, when she moved away.

But before she moved away, there was an incident at school. She and I would sit at the end of the playground, and play with her ball and jacks. It was out of sight of most people. One day, a teacher spotted us going there, and came and yelled at us for “sneaking away to be filthy.” We were flabbergasted. I honestly had no idea of what we were being accused of. I was 9 or 10. We protested we were just playing jacks. The teacher slapped us both. She grabbed the girl, and hauled her off to call her parents. As far as I know, she didn’t call mine. She told me she wasn’t allowed to spend time with me anymore.

In 5th grade I had the most popular teacher in school. My sister loved him. He taught me a TON about WWII history, and math. (And almost nothing about anything else. — literally he and another teacher switched classes if there was a non-history, non-math topic.)

He also, famously, had a series of paddles for meeting out discipline. They had names. A few had holes drilled in them, so they’d whistle when he swung them. I got paddled more than a few times. This was always done publicly, in front of the whole class. Also, sometimes he’d bring you up, loom over you, and swing the paddle behind you a few times. The whoosh would let you know it was coming… but maybe it wasn’t. Sometimes he took 1-2 test swings. Sometimes 5. Sometimes he just began paddling (to which the class counted off to whatever number he said it would be). Sometimes he took a few test swings, then told you to sit down.

I got paddled more in that one year than the entire rest of my childhood. Of course my parents were very, very sparing with corporal punishment. But the lesson learned was the *most* popular teacher in school, the one my sister and parents gushed about how lucky I was to have, would hurt me more than any other adult I knew.

So, school was where I would be mocked, teachers would often be wrong, correcting them led to retribution, me being harmed was normal and sometimes praised, I could be accused at any time of wrongdoing and lose friends over it, and there was nothing my family could do to help, and if they tried it made things worse.

By the time I moved schools for 6th grade, my hatred of school was well-established and, sadly, baffling to my family. I didn’t tell them about these events, of course. I had learned– that made things worse. In fact, on more than one occasion my mother desperately tried to get me to tell her what was wrong. Why was I silent that day? Why did I hate schooling when I loved learning? Where did that bruise come from? She got so frustrated and worried that I woudn’t tell her, she sometimes cried.

So I learned to lie, fast and efficiently. Make up anything to prevent her from trying to help.

And it has taken a LOT of therapy to even begin to be able to address most of this. Really, this story has no end.

And neither does my hatred of school.

While I expect to be launching a massive multi-publisher mega-bundle to help over medical costs on April 3rd, the main way to support me right now is to maintain (or even increase) pledge level here at my Patreon, or make a direct contribution at my Ko-Fi.