Category Archives: Silliness

Top Ten Things Wizards Watch on Crystal Balls When They Think No One is Looking

Top Ten Things Wizards Watch on Crystal Balls When They Think No One is Looking

We know what videos people watch in the modern world. But what visions are popular in a crystal-ball enable fantasy reality? You can use this for background info in a typical fantasy game, or along with my list of Top Ten Modern Crystal Balls, or just giggle and never think about it again.

10. Cat Visions
Most of the ethereal plane is just filled with visions of cute cats. Often paranormal cats. Winged kittens playing with floating baby flumphs and chimera cubs chasing their own dragon-heads are particularly popular.
9. Critical Hit Visions
It’s often entertaining to watch heroic people to amazing things, and cheer their spectacular successes!
8. Critical Fumble Visions
But it is MUCH more entertaining to watch people accidentally hit themselves in the head with the sharpened bottom end of a gnomish hook hammer, or wrap a spiked chain around their own legs.
7. Waterfalls and Thunderstorms
A lot of mages tune in to tranquil sounds to sleep. … Others know air and water elementals want them dead, and keep a constant, paranoid watch out on any scene that might hide a rogue wave or ill wind plotting their death.
6. How-Do Ritual Demonstrations
Once you have a crystal ball, it’s a good idea to expand your repertoire of rituals… especially privacy rituals that keep other people from watching visions of your critical fumbles.
5. Reaction Visions
If you know where to watch, you can see the looks on adventurer’s faces when they discover the “white dragon” they were hunting with flaming weapons is a “wight dragon,” an undead fire dragon immune to both flame and ice.
4. Make-Up Tips
Face it, people just take mages with on-point eyebrows more seriously, and there’s a fine line between the perfect “necromancer eye” look, and people thinking you have smudged soot on your face.
3. Tick Tock
No one is sure why, but the Paraelemental Plane of Clockwork has a lot of dancing on it…
2. Previews
Okay, okay, technically this is “prognostication,” but seeing snippets of the future is just a form of previews, right?
1. Porn
Look, we all knew this was going to be #1. And if we hadn’t lumped all porn sub-genres into one category? Then the whole list would have been porn. Some extraplanar entities make a living with acts of lovemaking mortals can barely comprehend, which can only be viewed by mages who pay to know the password to scry past the “wall of pay” warding.

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Bad Ideas for TV Shows Featuring Fire Elementals

After the burning controversy over if fire elementals shouldn’t be immune to damage from fires, along with a guest blog retort with counter-proposals, I decided to go in a different (sillier) direction today:

Top Ten Bad Ideas for TV Shows Featuring Fire Elementals

10. The Larry Smolders Show
Can a fire elemental host a late-night talk and variety show? Well, with the catchphrase “I’m What’s Hot!,” Larry Smolders is sure going to try!

9. How I Met Your Tinder
A mature fire elemental explains to its offspring lil’ flames how it met the prime flammables its burned to create them. But it’s a long, twisting, story, and no one is sure what’s getting turned into coals until the last episode. And somehow there’s a dating app involved?

8. Gun’s Smoke
Marshall Ash Dillon is an Really Wild West lawman descended in part from fire elementals. He is know as having a deadly firearm… er… fire-arm, that is an arm made of fire, allowing him to shoot flaming bolts from empty revolvers if needed to enforce the law.

7. Torch Wood
Time-traveling fire elementals posing as humans pose as government agents to hunt down aliens posing as faeries posing as good Samaritans so they can turn people in rosace à l’orange.
It kinda loses the track in season 7.

6. The George Burns and Blazie Allen Show
Look, Burns and Allen are good TV, even if they are fire elementals.

5. A*S*H
Set during the Planar War, the Arcane Surgical Hospital does their best to patch up injured elementals, genies, celestials, and fiends, often with elemental doctors cauterizing wounds while trying to crack jokes to stay sane.

4. Fawlty Wiring Towers
A nasty comedy set in a hotel with an owner so cheap the wiring keeps sparking small fires… which are inevitable annoyed minor fire elementals that would rather be back in their native land than stuck burning down this moldering building.

3. Elemental
Burnlock Holmes, a fire elemental that is the greatest detective on the elemental planes, works with his assistant Waterson, to solve cross-planar crimes.

2. Burndownton Abby
In the smoldering wreck of a once-fine manor, aristocratic flame elementals ignore the fact that once the last bits of wood and cloth have been consumed, their life of consuming fine flammables will end.

1. Censor For Hire
Censor is a private detective tiny fire elemental that was part of a military Fire Team during the Planar War, who ended up on a watch list forbidding planar travel. As a result he lives in a small censor on the material plane. He is hired by other detectives (who them have to carry him around, since he can’t leave his censor), or sometimes local police, to help with cases too baffling, or too dangerous, for them to handle on their own.

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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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