Category Archives: Silliness

Top Ten Bad Geeky Reality Show Ideas

For no particular reason: Bad Ideas for Geeky Reality Shows!

10. Rules of the Road — A group of gamers is put together on a tour buss to hit every convention they can, with a tight budget for each of them, during the summer convention season. During each convention there are challenges to earn points, with the lowest points-earning risking elimination after each con.

9. The Ring Guild — Contestants are isolated in individual apartments, only able to communicate with each other through a horror MMORPG, the Ring. And only while actively participating in risky zones Do well in the game, and you get benefits to upgrade your apartment. If you die in the game, you are cut off from interaction for hours or, in extreme cases, days.

8. Hell’s Dev Pit — A team of professional game designers, project managers, and business experts are brought in to save a struggling game company each week.

7. Keeping Up with the Kreators — Eight professionals in the ttRPG world have cameras brought into their lives, to see what it is actually like to live the life of game creator.

6. Horror Survivor — Contestants are put up in a spooky mansion, broken into multiple secret societies, and must play a different survival horror game each night. Doing well can earn immunity, but otherwise one person from a randomly-determined secret society is voted off each episode.

5. The Curse of Pulp Genre — Cameras follow a team of creators as they try to launch a profitable pulp ttRPG line.

4. Roll of the Dice — Tabletop gamers are placed in a nonstop-conventionlike atmosphere with rooms set up with games, dice, terrain, rulebooks, and famous game designers. But if anyone is caught actually playing a game, they are kicked off the compound.

3. The Great British GameMastering Show — Britain’s best ttRPG Game Masters must create from scratch scenarios for popular ttRPGs and run them for a series of juges, with one getting eliminated each week.

2. Game Room Makeover — Each week a different gaming group’s game room is made over for function, fashion, and fun!

1. 90 Days to Air — Teams of total strangers who happen to be fans of different geeky hobbies are thrown together and must compete to have a podcast up and running within 90 days.

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Top Ten Bad Geeky Sit Com Ideas

For no particular reason: Bad Ideas for Geeky Sitcoms!

01. All in the Batman Family — The aging Dark Knight sits in a comfy chair in the Batcave and complains about vigilante kids today, the costumes they wear, and the music they listen to.

02. The Big Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Theory — A woman who is a supergenius spy with a license to kill blends in with a group of nerdy losers (who are horrible people and think they are shunned because they are geeks–rather than because they are horrible people) as her cover, and she works to figure out who set her up. And if the losers don’t grow into at least moderately tolerably members of society, she’ll literally kill them.

03. How I Met Your Mother of Monsters — Typhoeus explains to the horrors of ancient Greek Mythology how he met their mother, or mothers, during the God/Titan War.

04. Hungry Night Court — When hunters of the supernatural get hauled in for misdemeanors in the middle of the night, they face this ancient vampire judge’s court rulings.

05. King of the Silent Hill — A few hicks still refusing to leave a town that has been burning from below for a century manage to eek out a living mocking big city folk while selling occultism and occultism-related products.

06. Mahlkolm in the Middle Earth — An elven mother resists the call to Sail to the West so she can keep her sorcerous elven children from siding with the Dark One.

07. The New IT Crowd — Driven out of the home it lived under for centuries, the cosmic horror IT begins to try living below corporate America, where the employees stuck in the besement already expect their lives to be filled with horror.

08. Ork & Indy — When a hardcore 40k & Warhammer gamer moves in with a Indy Storytelling Games only player, each things the other one is a weirdo alien from another planet. But they discover they have more in common than they think when they learn that each writes the other’s favorite fanfic.

09. Soylent Green Acres — about a corporate girl who falls in love with a corpse-farmer.

10. Three’s Dark Company — Can three cultists of three different dark gods get along when they have to split a 2-bedroom apartment to make ends meet in after moving in to Arkham, Massachusetts, and telling their Innsmouth landlord they actually all worship Dagon… which NONE of them do?

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Tabletop Reality Show Pitches

Shows that focus on watching other people play games are a growing category of popular entertainment. Reality shows are already a huge hit. Surely it’s only a matter of time before we start getting tabletop game reality shows! Here are my top ten pitches, in no particular order. (I am available to exchange ideas and expertise for producer credits. 😛 )

10. Game Night Takeover: A home group with a game night that isn’t as fun as it used to be has a group of game experts come in and change how they play. The experts look at ergonomics, home rules, lighting, scheduling, personal interactions, and even run a game night for the group themselves, to show how their proposed changes make things better.

9. Sideboard: Follows professional trading card gameplayers during one season of competition. Discusses tactics, buying expensive cards, highlights rivalries among them, touches on various controversies, and includes sextions explaining gameplay.

8. Dungeon Survivor: Contestants make ttRPG characters before the show, picking the genre, concept, and game system of their preference but with no input on what kinds of games they’ll be playing. They then live together in austere conditions, playing their characters in a series of adventures run by professional GMs, with each player’s character interacting with the game within their own ruleset. Success within the game earns all contestants quality of life improvements in their living conditions. One player is voted out of the show every week by all the players. In case of a tie, some item gained within the week’s session is revealed to grant tiebreaker powers. When there are just 3 players left, all removed contestants gather to vote for one of them a the winner, who gains a financial prize.

7. Pawns Shop
People bring in old games they think are collectable and valuable, and experts from the industry and game shops break their hearts while teaching a little about the history of each game.

6. The Dice
Four professional game designers hear elevator pitches for new games from newbie designers, without getting to know anything about the new designers. Each pro then selects a team of newbies to assist throughout the season in completing their games, which are playtested by other teams.

5. Iron GM
GMs are given a series of mystery theme elements, and they have an hour to craft them into an adventure for experienced players. I mean, come on. It’s right there, ready for TV.

4. All Alone
Ten constants are put in apartments with no access to streaming services, internet, phones, television or Zoom. They get food and necessity deliveries, but can never leave or talk to anyone. Each can bring 10 game projects they mean to get done into the apartment when they start — campaigns to plan, miniature armies to paint, and so on. Their lives are broadcast to anyone who wants to watch. otherwise it’s just 2020 pandemic quarantine, as entertainment.

3. The Gamemaster
A Gamemaster with a reliable schedule, mastery of the game system everyone wants to play, complete but flexible campaign notes, great place to run games, and a game room with plenty of seating, tablespace, and light, begins with a pool of prospective players. Each week, the GM and players engage in group and single activities, such as watching movies, playing video- and boardgames, and discussing house-rules. The GM then asks all but one of the prospective players to stay by giving them a d20 in a Die Giving Ceremony. When there are just 4 players left, they then get to play a tabletop rpg.

2. The UnReal World
A group of game players with different backgrounds, experiences, and playstyles all move into the same ginormous apartment suite above a game store. Each day, they play a different tabletop game, drawn from a wide variety of genres, rulesets, eras, and types. If all the players ask one of the members to leave, that member goes. If all the players ask a type of game not be played anymore, it isn’t. The whole thing is filmed 24/7.

1. The Great British Play-Off
Twelve players are brought t the Big Dungeon, where they compete to be named Britain’s Best Role-Player. In a series of challenges, they are given elements that must be worked into ttRPG characters they design. These may include things like making paladins that aren’t annoying, designing back-stories that include a happy childhood and all parents still being alive and beloved, or characters built around unusual specific weapons (such as harmonica guns).

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New Video: Anniversaries and Vengeance

Today is my 3oth wedding anniversary with my lovely wife.

And it’s time to tell the story of my longest-delayed vengeance.

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The Gelatinous Cylinder, Part 3

Yep, yet more abilities for Gelatinous Cylinders, to round out the holiday week. Add them to the gelatinous foe of choice in your favorite d20 game. Each gelatinous cylinder can have just 1-2 abilities from this series, or you can mix and match up to all 6.

Goes Great With: Gelatinous cylinders with this ability have formed a symbiotic relationship with some other creature. The how and why of such bonding it not well understood, and even creatures that benefit from such partnering have no idea why the cylinder came to accompany them.

A gelatinous cylinder does no harm to the creature it goes great with, and can even provide air and water if the creature is within the cylinder. Additionally, the accompanying partner gets to roll all attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks twice and take the best result when within 30 feet of the gelatinous cylinder.

Old-Fashioned: A gelatinous cylinder with this power has two forms–one the standard cylinder (which emulates the stats of a gelatinous cube), and one a more lumpy, spread-out jelly. While still bright red, in this form the gelatinous cylinder emulates the stat block of one slime, jelly, or mold selected when this ability is picked. The gelatinous cylinder can switch back and forth between the two forms at the beginning of each round as part of the first action it takes that round.

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The Gelatinous Cylinder, Part 2

Yep, more abilities for Gelatinous Cylinders, the bright red, reshaped gelatinous cube variant. Add then to the gelatinous foe of choice in your favorite d20 game.

(Art by the amazing Stan!, used with permission)

Phantom Faces: Though gelatinous cylinders are no more intelligent than other forms of gelatinous monster, some can form a face, generally locked into one or two expressions, and repeat overheard phrases. They often repeat things said by those they consume, from prior to the victim realizing they are in trouble. This mimicry is mindless, but the sound is so perfect it cannot be distinguished form the original voices.

Tantalizingly Preserved: Gelatinous cylinders with this ability stop the passage of time for any nonliving material stuck within them, and do not dissolve items that were not living when they entered the gel. Thus they often have foodstuffs, valuables, and even high-end clothing preserved and visible, juuuuust out of reach unless you want to plunge a hand into the cylinder…

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The Gelatinous Cylinder, Part 1

Yeah, it’s themed and silly. But there are some ideas here you can apply to gelatinous foes in your d20 game of choice.

There are more abilities in Part Two.
And even more in Part Three.

The Gelatinous Cylinder

Gelatinous Cylinders are a reshaped, deeply-red-colored offshoot of gelatinous cubes. While sages agree they are magically created rather than naturally occurring mutations, and it’s generally accepted the cylinders aren’t the desired end result, there are numerous competing theories as to what the creators were trying to do.

It’s often suggested their coloration was either an attempt to make sewer-cleaning creature that was more easily spotted by repair workers, or to make gelatinous foes more frightening by seeming to be soaked in blood. The cylinder-shape is also often held up as proof these were custom-built sewer cleaners, designed to fit through pipes. Others theorize are that they were literally made to be festive and silly-looking, possibly to serve as court jesters for the Oozing Empire of sentient slimes.

Gelatinous Cylinders can have a variety of strange powers. You can emulate a gelatinous cylinder by adding one of more of these abilities to your gelatinous cube state block of choice.

Sliceable: A gelatinous cylinder with this ability takes no damage from slashing weapons. However, when a slashing attack hits it, the gelatinous cylinder has a “slice” taken off. This slice is a gelatinous cylinder one size category smaller than the original and has the same stats, but with 20% of the original’s max hit points. The original loses 10% of its max hit points each time is spawns a slice. Slices cannot themselves form slices.

Small and Innocent Looking: A gelatinous cylinder with this ability can shrink down at rest, compressing itself to Tiny size. While in this reduced form and motionless, any ability or skill check to identify it as anything more than an innocent bit of edible food takes a -15 penalty. Once touched, the gelatinous cylinder explodes out to its full size and begins attacking.

We’ll do more gelatinous cylinder abelites tomorrow and Friday!

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Why Is [Insert Game Product] Late?

A lot of projects from a lot of game companies are late. I don’t find this at all shocking, at least in part because I have projects of my own that are not just horrifically behind, but (at least to public eyes) look like they’ve had no progress for weeks or months.

But for those who want answers and don’t have access to the creators of whatever project they feel is unreasonably late, here’s a table of reasons whatever thing you wish you already had is late. Tongue in cheek… but also a lot of grains of truth.

(Pic by stokkete)

Roll 1d20

  1. Roll twice. The first roll is the main reason the game product is late. The second roll is something that happened while the first roll was being dealt with, making it later.
  2. Nothing went wrong with the project. However, because game industry professionals always have multiple projects in the pipeline, an even older, even later project had an issue that delayed it, and that must be addressed before the project you are concerned about gets finished.
  3. While the publisher wasn’t dealing with major issues, a printer, distributor, freelancer, or shipper was, and that delayed things. By an unknown amount of time. We don’t have an eta yet. We’ll update you as soon as we know anything.
  4. Dog ate it.
  5. While only three days of work time was lost when a historic icestorm took the power out and killed cell phone access, it turns out that throwing out spoiled food, getting new groceries, getting emergency prescriptions to replace ruined insulin, clearing debris, calling insurance companies, checking in on elderly family members, and dealing with a three day backlog of emails, direct messages, and voicemails can take much longer than the time the power was out. Some issues take hours to deal with weeks and months later.
  6. Mental health issues. In this case, normal mental health issues that could have delayed the project in any year.
  7. Mental health issues… brought on by 2020. That might be a response to the pandemic, political turmoil, issues that call for protest, attacks from someone else flipping out over something linked to this year, or any of a dozen other things hammering this year.
  8. Aliens took it. … They may have been dog aliens.
  9. One or more of the creators is so overwhelmed that while they can dedicate time to trying to get the project out, when they do no useable creative work happens.
  10. A delay from someone else, linked to 5, 6, or 7, is serious enough other creatives need to take time to make sure the most impacted person is safe and okay.
  11. It was always going to be late. Let’s get real. It’s just worse because, you know, 2020.
  12. Time lost to having to have meetings virtually (rather than in person), and make plans to try to deal with the ever-shifting landscape of the industry, and answer questions publicly why projects are late, and try to find alternatives to plans made earlier in the pandemic which are already not viable, not only eats into time to actually make products, they tend to interrupt numerous times per day so what time can be applied to making progress on the delayed project is broken up and inefficient compared to conditions back when the project schedule was written out.
  13. All the time that should have gone to working on the project was wasted screaming into a pillow. And collecting bigger, more sound-absorbent pillows from other locations in the home.
  14. It’s hard to get much done when you are woozy from selling plasma, which you can do twice a week if you want the big donation bonuses… I mean the money has to come from somewhere.
  15. The pandemic, and the shutdowns and economic challenges it brings, have caused cash flow to drop so seriously that the project doesn’t have the money budgeted for some part of it. That work now has to be done in-house or by the lead creator, who has to squeeze it in around all the rest of the demands on their time.
  16. [This space left intentionally blank. Otherwise filling it would have taken so long, this blog post would have been late. The irony is not lost on us.]
  17. As the game industry takes hit after massive hit, time was taken to see if any Federal aid was available to make up for lost income, or to pay freelancers, to to act as a bolster for the downturn. Whether aid was found or not, the labyrinthine process of finding what options exist, reading the rules to understand if they apply, getting documents together, applying for the program, answering questions that come up, and letting others know what did and did not work, took enough time that an entire hardback book could have been written with the same effort–if anyone had a reason to think it would sell well right now.
  18. Time-travelers came from the future to delay the publication, claiming that if it was released on time, somehow things would get unimaginably worse.
    They looked… haunted.
  19. With all the joy and inspiration sucked out of them by nonstop horrorshows in their life, the creators just gave up. They aren’t happy about it, and hope to get to it later. When the world seems less terrible. If they haven’t moved on with their lives and let the industry behind forever.
  20. The creative team loved the game, the project, the fanbase, and the industry, and is working on the “Better late than bad” principle. Stated simply, this principle says “If a project is late, it’s only late until it’s delivered. If it’s not given the time and resources it needs and is bad, it’s bad forever.”

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They Killed Me, Again, Today

They killed me again, today.

I suppose I should be used to it by now. I mean, anytime anyone comes to the old carnival grounds, or the camp and lake next door, it always ends up with me getting killed again.

I mean, yes, the first time was legitimately surprising. I put on the dead firefighter’s gas mask and coat to help get those campers out of the burning building, not hurt them. But I guess when you catch on fire, roll around in plastic tarps to put it out, and get covered in patchy molten tarp cloth, you look a little scary.

Especially when you have a 4-foot long flaming bill hook hedge cutter in your hand.

So, sure. I get that they thought I was a vengeful spirit come to drag them to hell. I don’t think they needed to wrap a chain around me, hook it to a pickup truck, drive to the lake and jump out just as it went off the dock, so I was pulled underwater and drowned in brackish muck, but at least I get it.

And I guess if you are dumb enough to run an illegal underground carnival and blare intentionally Satanic lyric over the loudspeakers, and that actually DOES raise a vengeful spirit in the form of one wet dude with a patchy coat, mask, and flaming bill hook, you might decide to “douse its hellfire” before discovering I was vengeful about poor OSHA compliance from the original carnival’s corporate owners. I still think dumping the illegally-stored tanks of liquid nitrogen on me was taking it a bit far, though.

So I confess, when one of the things stored in the liquid nitrogen turned out to be a human regeneration formula that brought me back as an infectious zombie… rotting flesh visible through the broken gas mask (but still with the same patchwork coat and flaming bill hook — Black and Decker, man, it’s a quality brand), I was pretty sure it was going to go badly for me. So, yes, I lurked a bit as the urban explorers took pictures of my stomping grounds. I didn’t want to get frozen or drowned again! But when i saw they had mobile phones, I did try to ask them to call for help!

Turns out, enunciation is tricky with a rotting, burned, flash-dried tongue.

No drowning, at least. Getting fed into a wood chipper, mixed with mulch, and spread over the baseball field was hellishly painful, especially since as a regenerating mutant undead spirit of vengeance I was still aware the whole time, but at least I was outside. Some nights it was quite nice.

I DO feel bad for terrorizing people when that freak storm dropped a phone line onto the field and I was sucked into cyberspace and tried to kill people using the internet. But what can I say, it was the 1990s, and netiquette for horror monsters wasn’t really codified yet.

And then the seance, being reverse-possessed by the brother of my first “victim,” the attempt to recreate the serum by cloning me, turning out not have been killed but just in hibernation for 7 years while digesting a guys liver, the SECOND clone of me, the group of multi-denominational priests who summoned me just so they could destroy me “once and for all,” the alien parasite…

I gotta be honest, I’m not even sure I didn’t hallucinate that last one.

So when I reformed from a single drop of my original burning blood and found a mock-up of my original mask and coat in the roadside attraction based on my exploits (but with the SAME bill hook — *man* those people can make gardening tools!), I should have know that moving away from everyone and everything wasn’t going to be enough.

At least someone ought to be able to make a cool movie out of all that cell phone footage those kids got of me and themselves before the fungus that grows on my mutant undead body turned them all into homicidal killers and they did each other in.

And chained me to a bigger truck, and drove me into a bigger lake.

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Flash Fiction: Magic Origins

Hofenung ripped a streetlight free of its cast iron mooring with one arm, caked ice shattering off of it, and hurled it down the alley. A bolt of faefire caught the it before it’d gone more than 20 feet, ripping through it with the same boom as a glacier breaking free of the icepack. The streetlight exploded in a cloud of dust and burning embers, filling the narrow space between buildings. Still clutching his charred side with his other hand, Hofenung staggered to the end of the byway and turned onto the next major street.

Behind him, he heard a chorus of buccasnickle cries of pain and anger. Though he could not smile, Hofenung allowed himself a flat-faced chuckle. The Fel Moroz wouldn’t make the mistake of assuming everything made by man was wood and stone again, but for now they had coated themselves in iron shavings far more efficiently than he possibly could have.

Still, the Fouettard would have the diminutive trackers whipped back into a hunting pack within moments, so his reprieve was to be a short one. He bulled forward through the near-blinding snow toward the nearest doorway, using his good shoulder to burst the door in, popping it entirely free of its frame. He staggered a half dozen paces into the shop, plowing through a display of silk hats and gloves, before crashing down on a wooden bench, which groaned under his weight.

His form heaved as though he was breathing heavily, though he lacked lungs or need for air. He rolled onto his side, bringing the wound he had been clutching with his spare hand up from under him. Gently he peeled his fingers back to survey the damage. A chunk nearly the size of his fist was missing from his stone body. Worse, veins of shiny black silver was spreading from the wound, tiny spikes drilling through his granite form and cracking him apart.

At full strength, he might have been able to fight the curse. Weakened as he was, there was no chance of stopping it. He would break, and die, soon. He had even less time than he had feared.

Gingerly, Hofenung reached into the inner pocket of his tattered opera cloak. He pulled forth a single thread, a golden line of light, its tail end trailing into the fabric of his cloak. It resisted his pull at first, but when he gave it a determined tug it popped free. A chill set into his massive stone form, and he felt the animation begin to seep from him. The glowing thread curled one end of itself around his bulky fingertip, stroking the rock that was turning more gray by the second.

“It has been my honor to protect you.” Hofenung could no more cry than he could smile, but there was sadness and pain in his voice. “But I can carry this duty no longer. Your enemies ride fast. We must find you a new protector.”

It was scarcely a minute before heavy hoofsteps crunched in the snow outside. The light from the doorway was blocked by a massive form, hunched and shaggy, a long, barbed whip clutched in one hand and a massive wicket basked over its back. Around it, tiny, beautiful, perfect human forms danced and shook their fists angrily.

The hoofed figured pressed its head against the open space of the doorway, and for a moment was held in place. It pushed, and the entire frame of the building groaned, as if being pressed by a terrifying wind. Then, it’s passage no longer blocked by the invisible force, the creature stepped into the shop. It walked down the obvious path of destruction through smashed displays and toppled shelves, to find Hofenung lying on a broken bench.

“You have been a worthy hunt, protector.” The creature’s voice was deep and gruff, nearly closer a growl than speech. “But it comes to an end now.”

“That you have enjoyed my escape is my sole regret in evading you.” Hofenung’s mouth opened, but did not move with the words. His body was almost entirely stiff, lifeless rock.

The creature bleated once. “You evaded nothing, protector. The teacher’s gift shall now be ours. Produce it, or I shall rip it from your broken rubble.”

More than ever in his long existence, Hofenung wished he could smile. “It’s not here.”

“WHAT?!” The shaggy form stomped a hoofed foot in anger. “What foolishness is this? Left alone, it could be damaged, destroyed. I need it intact to harness it, and you would never risk a gift from the teacher!”

Hofenung nodded. “You are right, of course. I have stitched it anew. And it will find a new protector, and that entity shall carry on where I have fallen.”

The creature snorted, in a mix of anger and amusement. “A new protector? Oh, it has the power to bring another like you alife, it is certain. But you believe here, in this time in this place, someone will craft a new body for such a protector? Make a man-form, or close enough, imbue it with their love and joy and cheer, so the gift can embody it?” One of the tiny forms yelped in squeaky complaint, and the creature nodded. “Indeed, even if some student of secrets was so inclined, there is snow on everything!”

Hofenung felt his last moments come upon him. “Yes, I believe all those things. And until it selects a protector, it will be difficult even for your buccasnickle to find. You will, at least, be delayed.”

And then the protector was no more than a pile of rock.

The hoofed, shaggy whip-bearer stared for long seconds at the remains of its foe of centuries, then cracked its whip. The buccasnickle flooded into the shop, and began tearing apart everything within in. Hats were rent asunder. Coats split in half. Scarves unraveled. As dawn approached, the whip-bearer roared in frustration and, with a crack, drove the small searchers from the shop, back toward the alley.

As they marched past the window of “Professor Hinkle’s Magic Shoppe and Rabbit Supplies,” not one of them stopped to glance at an old silk hat sitting in the display, a bright pink cloth flower sewn to it by a single, golden thread.

#DeepCuts

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