Category Archives: Makes Perfect Sense
Heya folks! Gaming veteran and cartooning luminary Stan! wrote a response-with-counterproposals to my blog from last Friday, which I am delighted to present to you here as another Guest Blog!
If you are involved, or getting involved, in tabletop games and are interested in having me feature a guest blog of yours, let me know! You can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday, Owen wrote an interesting and provocative post suggesting that Fire Elementals Shouldn’t Be Immune to Fire. As so often is the case, I was gobsmacked by the brilliance of this simple game design heresy. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like the idea would be improved with a little tweak. When I brought it up to Owen he said, “Fine … write it up!”
Damn it, Owen!
Demons and Devils
Owen’s first suggestion was that since demons and devils were placed in Hell as punishment for their evil natures, it makes sense for they themselves to share the eternal torment that the souls they tend suffer. His suggestion was that these creatures are merely immune from being DESTROYED by hellfire because they are immortal spirits. While that made some sense to me, it also made me wonder why in that case they wouldn’t be eternally on the EDGE of death, burned to near cinders but unable to succumb.
My counterproposal: In addition to being unable to be killed by fire damage, demons, devils, and other similar creatures get a new trait so that at the start of their turn, they heal all fire damage they have suffered. That way they are fresh at the start of each turn, and then get burned all over again. And if you target them with spells or other sources of fire damage, they have to take that too … they just can’t die from it, and they’ll heal it all back when their turn comes along.
In Their Element
The second half of Owen’s pitch was that Fire Elementals not be immune to fire in the same way that we creatures of flesh are not immune to fists, suggesting instead that they are adapted to their natural habitat and “see routes through the flames” so as to avoid taking damage. I suppose partly this comes down to how one envisions the Plane of Fire, but for me there are no routes “through the flames,” they are omnipresent. And my interpretation of creatures native to that plane is that they are cozy and comfortable when in the presence of natural occurrences of their element (sitting in a campfire is like a soothing bath for a Fire Elemental, likewise a Water Elemental is total at home in any amount of water).
My counterproposal: While elementals are sanguine when faced with their natural substance, they are still vulnerable to magical, chemical, and alchemical variations of it. So a fire elemental could be fine fighting in the middle of a burning house, but it’d take damage just like anyone else might from a <ital>fire bolt, fireball,</ital> or burning oil. It would be impossible, of course, to set a fire elemental on fire for ongoing damage … but the initial blast or splash sure hurts.
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In a lot of ttRPGs, a whole slew of creatures are immune to fire damage. Most commonly, demons/devils, and things from the elemental plane of fire.
The logic goes, demons and devils live in some kind of fiery hell. But most fantasy mythologies have them put there as punishment. Why put them someplace they are immune to?
Similarly, a fire elemental is said to be immune to fire because is it made of fire. But I’m made of flesh and bone, and a leather-wrapped femur slapped upside my head damages me just fine. Slap me with a side of beef and I show no sign of being immune to it.
Now, you DO want these creatures to be able to exist in their environments, but that need not make them immune to a common form of damage, and classically one of the things you CAN use against monsters in fantasy fiction. Demons and devil may be immune to being destroyed in Hell because they are immortal spirits, but they can still burn and suffer, making their existence damnation, Fire elementals can be given an ability to see the routes through the plane of fire, escaping burning not because they are made of fire, but because they are adapted to their environment.
So, since people aren’t immune to damage from being hit by the things they are made of:
Fire elementals should not be immune to fire.
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Marvel Movie Pitch
Victor Von Doom is a young rebel fighting against The Baron, a petty warlord who rules the small nation of Latveria. Victor is not a hero, but a rebel leader fighting a war, and he knows it. He uses sorcery learned from his parents and science he gleans from constantly reading tech specs from AIM, Stark Industries, and Roxxon.
(Get Roma writers, actors, and directors to include good Roma depiction and representation as one of the groups within Latveria)
Victor deposes the Baron, and steps back from being in charge afterward to allow the people of Latveria to create a democracy. Now free from war, and somethign of an international celebrity for his fight for freedom, he receives a scholarship to Empire State University in New York. Here he meets Reed Richards, who becomes his natural rival, and Ben Grimm, who thinks Victor is a bully and war criminal.
Reed is working to build a rocket to examine cosmic rays well beyond the atmosphere. Victor is building a machine to allow him to speak with the dead, in the hopes of using it to help Latvarians recover from war losses. Each sees a flaw in the design of the other, and neither believes THEIR calculations are wrong.
Afraid Victor is the one who is right, Ben Grimm sabotages the Doom Projector, expecting it to just short circuit. Instead it explodes, badly damaging Victor’s face. Victor is expelled from the school and, no longer a student, his visa to stay in the U.S. is pulled. (Yes, I get why some people hate this. But Ben sabotaging Victor is, currently, comics canon. If we want to move away from that, some OTHERstudent could sabotage him.)
Angry and scarred, Victor goes to Tibet to find the Ancient One, who he has heard can heal him. He fails to find her, collapsing on a mountainside, and is rescued by a secretive group of sages who strive to blend magic and technology, but wish to do so without the rest of the world finding out. Victor joins their order, and becomes a master of this technomancy. He begins working on a suit of armor he claims will be the “mystic equivalent of Iron Man,” thought the process takes a long time and the armor takes days to cool. The sages, impressed by his acumen, grant him the doctorate degree he was denied by ESU.
News arrives that suggests Latveria is collapsing into near civil war, unable to cover its international debts and having no institutions or traditions to support building a democracy. (In the background, another news piece suggest Reed Richards is lost in space with friends during an unauthorized spaceflight.) Victor anonymously begins a grassroots movement over the internet and via astral projection to bring peace to Latveria.
His efforts are stymied by Prince Rudolf, who claims to be the rightful monarch of Latveria, and who controls the sorcerous Mephistopheles Guard. In a techno-crystal ball conversation between the two, Victor warns Rudolf he will not allow some faker to take over the country. Rudolf warns Victor he is not as safely secluded as he thinks.
Then the Mephistopheles Guard attacks the Tibetan sages, their sorcery and modern weapons firing magic bullets too much for the sages’ defenses. Victor rushes to put on his technomagic armor to save the sages… but the last piece, the control system mask, has not yet cooled. Gritting his teeth, Victor puts it on anyway, and we hear searing and smoke, but no cry of pain.
Victor defeats the remaining attackers, but nearly all the sages are dead. The few that remain thank Victor for saving them, and pledge their loyalty to him.
Victor goes to Latveria, where he blasts his way into the Royal palace, and confronts Rudolf. Rudolf promises that defeating him is pointless, his diabolical master will just recruit another pawn to take control of the country.
“Let them come.” says Victor. “And they, too, can meet their Doom.”
Von Doom sits on the throne. He orders Rudolf’s political prisoners released. They come to the throne room, and suggest Von Doom should step down and let them establish an autonomous collective. The politicos begin to should louder and louder, until Von Doom silences them.
They have clearly failed Latveria, Von Doom notes. He shall not. He will modernize, protect, and get to the root of who was behind Rudolf and possibly the baron’s, supernatural plots.
And no-one, notes Doctor Doom, shall stop me.
End Credit Scene. We see the last few seconds of Doctor Doom’s taking over speech on a TV, which is surrounded in Egyptian iconography. There’s a date listed (day the movie is released).
There are two voices.
“So, we jump to before this moment, and stop him?”
“No, too risky, We’ll have to travel to just after this, and see if we con convince him to see things out way.”
So, as of today, Disney owns the FOX catalog of movies and television fiction.
Sure, that means LOTS more characters enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars: A New Hope distribution rights now go back to Lucasfilm. Those are the “mainstream” stories about this merger.
But Disney had made TONS of money building linked cinematic universes and rebooting properties in the past 15 years.
So, what are some unlikely but now technically possible combinations of new FOX acquisitions and old Disney properties they could try?
Here are Ten, ranked from worst to best.
10. Program of the APES (Planet of the Apes/TRON)
When an uplifted chimpanzee finds an old, independent research facility…. Nope. I can’t do it. Some great tastes just do NOT taste great together!
9. DIE HARD Wore TENNIS SHOES (Die Hard/The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes)
The only reason this isn’t the worst idea on this list is that I COULD see a way to do this as a parody… and Program of the APES really is a worse idea.
8. Serenity Witches (Firefly/Witch Mountain)
I mean, it might be fun just to see Browncoats’ heads explode. Mal and the Serenity must help a couple of psychic kids escape their government pursuers and return to the frontier planet Witch Mountain.
7. Swiss Family Robinson ALIEN
Yes, it’s a reach, but hear me out. In the future a family of explorers, with one famous example of being stranded, get stuck when their colony ship crashes on a deserted planet. They set about trying to survive already harsh conditions, when one of the animals finds this leathery egg…
Alien is at its best as either full-on military action, or small, isolated horror. Why not try that second one again?
(But if you do… yeah let’s NOT actually mention Swiss Family Robinson)\
6. Flight of the AVATAR
Do a straight-up remake of Flight of the Navigator, but with a Na’vi kid.
This is a heartless cash grab idea. Those always do well, right?
5. My X-FILES Project (X-Files, My Science Project)
A group of teens find the junkyard where the government sticks all the alien gadgets and gizmos that were stolen away to make sure the FBI team known as the X-Files can’t prove they exist. Now the X-Files are closed down, and it’s up to the kids to use the alien tech they have recovered to investigate other strange phenomenon.
Okay… I’d at least give this one a try.
4. Predator: Black Hole
I’m not saying there’s any tonal or aesthetic justification to linking these properties. I’m just saying if I get a movie post with Maximilian facing off against a Predator, and the tagline “The Most Dangerous Hunter Needs the Most Dangerous Hunting Grounds,” with the Cygnus and a black hole in the background?
And no one knows what to do with either franchise, so why not give it a shot?
3. Muppet Night at the Museum
Hear me out!
All you need is for the Museum where exhibits come to life to have a travelling Muppet display be installed, and hilarity ensues! Let’s face it, Night at the Museum could use a threequel, and Disney doesn’t know what to do with the Muppets anyway. And Miss Piggy karate chopping soldiers of all eras has some promise for comedy.
2. Kingsman/Pirates of the Caribbean
Look, Disney is GOING to make more PotC movies. If one of the new characters is a tailor, who gets a huge pirate treasure an uses it to begin training other tailors as super-spies? That’s a win.
1. The Orville/The Cat From Outer Space
This one is a no-brainer, but it should also be more an Easter Egg in an Orville two-parter, or MAYBE for “The Orville The Movie.”
But you can’t convince me a race of psychic cats isn’t perfect for The Orville.
Ice Age “Live Action” Remake
Ice Age lost some steam, but still has lots of fans and great actors in its key roles. Just give us photo-real CGI prehistoric beasts, and people will pack the theaters.
This is the ONE idea on this page I think has any chance whatsoever of actually happening.
(Though if Disney wants to pay me to explain how ANY of these ideas could work, I’m available!)
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“We are locked in existential battle with the forces of Khernobog. Every living, thinking thing on the other side of the rivers and mountains wants us dead. Or worse.
“The Wards Majoris keep out most threats. More powerful creatures can burst through the wards, of course, but doing so takes time and sets off alarms. As long as our Princips aren’t busy elsewhere, they can respond to any such effort and prevent a breach.
“But more minor creatures are simply below the threat level the wards respond to. Sometimes those lesser forces of Khernobog gather in numbers large enough to be a significant danger. Generally they must take such armies through the fords or passes. Which is why there are keeps and castles there, manned with veterans who couldn’t stop a creature powerful enough to breach the wards, but can act in units to guard against incursions of massed minor threats.
“Of course, for them to respond quickly, they can’t stray too far from those routes, and they can only patrol so much territory beyond that. Smaller groups of minor creatures that can pass through the wards can sneak past the patrols, or move through rough terrain a whole army couldn’t negotiate.
“Such individuals and small bands are no danger to our lands as a whole. But that is no comfort to a father mourning a stolen child, or a wisewoman who loses her chickens.
“Those threats are minor, but no less threats, and someone must face them. Someday, perhaps, you will have the experience and power needed to guard the castles. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll even be a Prencip, and defend us from reality-altering powers of the enemy.
“But until then, we need you to form into small groups, and seek out those threats you can handle. Ensure that the patrols don’t have to abandon their posts, and the Princips are neither distracted nor out of position.
“It may seem minor, but this, too, is a great service to our lands.”
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The Avarice cult steals from the sin cultists’ enemies… but also eventually steals from the other sin cultists, and is destroyed by the Wrath cult.
The Wrath cult strikes at the sin cultists’ enemies, but eventually gets itself killed.
The Lust cult drives the passions of the other cultists, and is drawn especially to Pride cult.
The Envy cult tries to demoralize the enemies of the cult, but ends up destroying itself by attacking the Lust and Pride cults.
The Pride cult can’t help but talk about how great the cult is, revealing themselves and the Lust cult in time and getting rounded up.
The Gluttony cult is then nearly alone and, having fed on the riches of the other cults, is too out of shape to accomplish anything when it tries to consume more.
And the Sloth cult?
The sloth cult does nothing, surviving the destruction of the other cults, and spreads the rumor it is destroyed. Then, it grudgingly restarts those other cults, so it can avoid having to do anything else to keep its foes from finding it.
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Sometimes, you need something out of the ordinary for a fantasy RPG dinner scene.
Sometimes, you just need a laugh.
Top Ten Iffy RPG Dinners
“No, it’s not seafood. But it is peeled, coated in flour, pepper and salt, and deep-fried!”
“It’s a one-ingredent fusion food! Also popular with chimera crisps, griffon au grautin, and manticore fries.
“It provides both the hare meat and the veggies, all in one butchering.”
8. Owlbear Mole Poblano
“No not owl-bear-mole. Mole poblano. The sauce. It really brings out the, ah… the gamy flavor of the wild mammal-and-fowl meat.”
5. Mimic Meat.
First, bless your weirdness!
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Adventure idea: A community of unusually short-tailed, round-headed ratfolk (an ethnicity called ‘voles’ by other local races) who live in borrows (boroughs?) outside a major city have begun to be assaulted and driven out of local markets by rougher citizens of the city. The settlers accuse the ratfolk of theft, and desecration of several shrines within the city, saying the ratfolk move through the city’s sewers and drains, and have even been seen trying to get at children asleep in their homes.
The ratfolk proclaim their innocence, and point out they warned the city’s leaders weeks ago that wererats had been spotted in the thick brush of a nearby woods. The ratfolk believe the wererats have infected some city dwellers. The city government thinks the ratfolk are making false claims about wererats to protect some ratfolk hooligans, and thus aren’t taking it seriously.
Thus the ratfolk need help, because the wererats (who do indeed walk among them, including a few wererat ratfolk who only have a modest appearance change in hybrid form) are a demon cult who wish to summon agents of their demonic patron, a scavenger lord who spreads disease and uses vrocks as his agents. The wererats have summoned one vrock already, and want two more so they can do a dance of ruin beneath the city streets! So, the rastfolk want to hire some outsiders (the PCs) to fairly investigate.
The players must separate fact from fiction, deal with hunting down were rats both in the city sewers and hiding in plain site among the ratfllk, and ultimately deal with the apocalyptic whereat demon cult’s plans.
The name of the adventure?
“Vrock and Vole”
Simplified High-Level Pathfinder
Simplified Mythic Pathfinder
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