Paranoia Episode 01

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In another example of my manic need to try out other games, I picked up Paranoia, the newest edition a few weeks ago.  I played Paranoia in the 1980’s. way back when it was the 1st and 2nd edition.  West End Games was the publisher.  The first iteration was kind of wonky, as it was too rule heavy.  The second edition was pretty good, for at least the first couple of years that it existed.  After a while, the adventures became a little trite.

So, knowing that I really enjoyed the first couple of versions of Paranoia, I asked my FLGS owner to order me the new box set.  It was pretty cool.  I went onto DriveThru Cards, and ordered the two sets of additional cards which were available on print on demand. They were really cool.

A word of caution.  For a $50 box, there were three paperback books, two decks of cards, about 50 cards each, some dry erase character sheets, and not much more.  The quality of the books is OK.  They are prefect bound, which looks like this…

download

Now, there is nothing wrong with perfect bound books.  But these ones have an annoying affect of needing to either bend the binding to accommodate a full open book, or you have to bend the pages around the funny little glued portion.  OK. that isn’t a fatal flaw, but in my case, I am really anal about how my games are kept, with the intent of keeping them as nice as possible for their entire life.  The perfect bound books require that you must bend the pages, or bend the spine, causing creases in things that should not be creased.

OK, that is not a huge gripe, but I will gripe about the cards.  The cards are cheap.  As in cheap like the Paizo Adventure Card Game quality.  Both the cards in the game box, and the cards I ordered from Drivethru Cards were crappy quality.

The printing on the cards was good.  However, the long term durability of the cards was suspect.  So, I needed to purchase about $10 worth of Fantasy Flight clear sleeves to protect them.  The cards were cheap enough that when I sleeved them, several of the cards chipped on the edges going into the sleeve.

A word to game manufacturers, Please, please, please go up a few quarters in price of components to get quality components.

Reading through the books, it became quite clear that the game was supposed to be taken out of the box, and played.  The only problem was, the pregens for this take it out of the box were printed in the Mission Book (the adventure guide)  The other two books included a player’s handbook, and a GM guide.  The annoying part of this, with a $50 game, was that there was no clear rules cyclopedia in the game books.  You have to hunt around in at least two books to understand how to run or play the game.  Additionally, you can only purchase additional player’s books via the Mongoose website.  The game distributors do not have the ability to order extra copies of the player’s guide.  You can purchase the PDF of the base box, for $29.99 from Drivethru RPG, or via the Mongoose website, but then you need to decide how your personal ethics deal with pirating the book to your friends, while your Friend Computer is watching your every move.

This is especially troublesome, as you can not purchase a PDF of just the player’s guide on Drivethru RPG.  You can only get the entire Red Clearance Edition box of PDF’s.

Additionally, there is a Player’s Guide to the Alpha Complex, but it is only available as a PDF.  No printed version is available.

The dilemma here is that this game is best played without distractions.  Having a tablet, phone or laptop with the PDF’s up creates a situation where people can start referring to emails, posting on social media, and other things that are not conducive to gaming.  I have no problems with people doing that, but when I run a game, I like people to be engaged in the game, not in something else.  In the case of Paranoia, no clone in a position of power, or the Friend Computer ever wants to repeat things.  Having hard copies of reference material allows me to tell the players to put their phones in the middle of the table, and if anyone picks up a phone, then they get a treason star.

This ended up causing a good thing.  Well good as far as the Friend Computer was concerned.  During the game, I took William aside and talked with him about what to do, and the players took another phone and put it onto William’s chair.  As we walked back, William took the phone and put it back on the table.  He got a treason star for that.  Then he complained, and he got another treason star.   The resulting chaos ended up with the players basically flinging phones onto each other seats and using books and paper to pick up the phones and putting them back onto the table without touching them.  During the game, I got a phone call from my daughter.  Of course I answered it.  The players were upset that I got to use my phone, and they didn’t get to use theirs.  Tough shit.  I am management.  Do as I say, not as I do.  Treason stars all around.

Another minor gripe from me is that the game came with one “Computer” dice.  Yes, grammatically, it should be “die”, not dice.  However, the manuals that come with the game make it very clear that they use the plural “dice” in every case, because it would be confusing to call the d6 a die, with all of the characters who die a lot.  The alternately correct use of the plural noun is done to clarify who needs to “die” as in is currently, or will soon be dead, as opposed to rolling one “die”.

But the gripe from me is not about the use of the word “dice” instead of “die”.  The gripe is that the box comes with only one computer dice.  I like dice.  Any d6 with a special function needs friends.  I know that it is only a 25 mm d6 with a computer printed on the 6, but damn it, I like it.  And I want more.  The only way to get more is to go to the Mongoose website and purchase a bag of 4 computer dice for $15, and then pay another $8 for shipping.  Bleh. These dice are also not available through distributors, so you can’t let the FLGS get them and make a little money.  I am not excited at paying $23 for 4 d6’s.  Like I said, bleh.

The game books are written in a semi-understandable method of communication.  Unfortunately, you need to go through a lot of different things to figure out what to do, how to play, etc.  The introductory adventure in the Mission Book does a pretty good explanation of how to get things done.

However, if you are using the Paranoia books as a guide to figure out how to do something, good luck.  I mean it.  The books are not very good at explaining how to actually run or play a game.

Do I like the new version of Paranoia?  Yes.  A lot.  I like it enough that I bought several older version PDF’s on Drivethru RPG.  The books read well.

Following is a series of basic rules that I compiled into a handy list.

Head’s Up Display

You have an Iball. This Iball links you to the Computer. This also allows you to view dta on all other clones, including their registered name, number of treason stars and other information.

Station in Life

As an infrared, you are the lowest of the low. You must suck it up from everyone. As a Red level operative, you must do everything that you are told to do by everyone with a higher level.

Mutant Powers

It is treasonous to have a mutant power. It is more treasonous to use them. Register as a mutant to keep from being eliminated. Mutants are dangerous.

Secret Societies

Secret societies are treasonous. If approached by one, report it to the Computer. The computer may want you to become an operative to help bring down the treasonous society.

How to Advance

Survive, learn to bootlick, grovel, suck up, and, report all real or imagined treasonous activity to the Computer. Remember, where there is smoke, there is usually fire.

Treason Stars

You can have a maximum of 5 Treason Stars. Your clone will be recycled when you get five treason stars. You get treason stars for treasonous acts. It is not treasonous to report fellow opertives for treason.

All registered mutants gain 2 automatic treason stars. Using a mutant power without registering as a mutant is treasonous. Reporting a non-registered mutant to the Computer may help reduce your own treason star count.

XP Points

You get XP points for doing missions. You can also get XP points for reporting your fellow team members for treasonous acts. You will need XP points to level up to higher levels of clone. XP points also buy things.

Stats and Skills

Used to build the dice pool. Positive stats are “good” while negative stats are “fun” If your skills are positive, add up the total number of positive stats that you want to use, justify them, be prepared to be ridiculed, report ridicule as treason. Then roll the dice, plus the Computer die (the red one).

5’s and 6’s are sucesses.1-4 are not sucesses. You want lots of sucesses.

How many sucesses do you need?

0

An average task. Any ordinary person should be able to do this unless they have negative numbers on their skill

1

Requires a small bit of effort or knowledge

2

Quite hard

3

Dififcult

4

Very difficult

5

This would be hard, even for an expert

6

Beyond the realm of normal human ability

If you are using a skill that a negative, create your dice pool. In that case, you want 5’s and 6’s. Any 1, 2, 3 or 4 is a failure, not a null value. Failure is fun. Revel in it. This makes the GM’s job hard, as he needs to figure out what happens.

The computer dice is always rolled. If you roll a computer symbol, then something happens that involves the computer. This could be bad, worse, or devastating. It could also be something that generates a lack of continuity in the plot.

Moxie

Moxie is used to do several things. Including:

  • Add dice to your pool
  • Activate mutant abilities
  • Lose it

You have limited moxie. When you use Moxie, it is gone, unless you spend 50 XP per moxie point to regain it. You can also buy extra moxie points for 200 XP apiece.

When you use Moxie to activate your mutant abilities,

Wounds

Every wound results in adding 1 to the task roll. Alternately, each wound removes one of your successes. Take your pick, it is all the same to your betters.

You will notice that I have used alternate spelling facts here.  This was not a mistake.  This was done specifically to see if any of the treasonous players would contradict the published information by the Friend Computer.  The computer does not make mistakes.  The computer will, however provide some level of alternate facts or disinformation to see if any of the clone citizens are treasonous and will… need forced reeducation applied as necessary.  Collin tried to point out a spelling error on the sheet, and was labeled as a treasonous clone.  It was not pretty.

So how was the gaming?  It was a lot of fun.  We started out early in the morning by four of us going to the Black Friday sale at Guardian Games.  Guardian Games is a pretty awesome game store in Portland Oregon.  If you are ever in Portland, I suggest you go to Guardian.  I have been in game stores all around the country.  When I travel to other areas, I always try to drop in on a game store if possible.  I haven’t seen one yet that compares to Guardian.  The really cool thing about that store is that they serve lots of genres well.  They have a good stock of RPG’s, board games, card games, CCG’s, LCG’s, and miniatures.  When I say good stock, I mean amazing stock.

We went down at 7:15 in the morning on Black Friday, and looked around.  When I say “we”, I mean Eric, Collin, Eric’s friend Michael (not Friend Computer), and me.  Eric drove down in his new Mazda, and told us that the car was driving itself on the freeway.  I think he was kidding.  I am pretty sure that I saw him steering with his knees.

Mike didn’t want to go.  He made up some excuse that he didn’t need any more games, but we all knew that since he retired, he didn’t roll out of bed until at least 10:30 AM, later if possible.

We show up at Guardian, and there was a line of gamers outside, waiting for the early opening time of 8 AM.  The line extended all the way along one city block, then we rushed to the end, and were in about the 100th customer position.  There was nothing scientific about me counting.  I estimate that we were the 100th customer.  We arrived at about 7:45 AM.  By the time the line started moving just a few minutes after 8 AM, the line stretched around the corner, and for another city block.

Guardian has an amazing sale on Black Friday.  They stack a huge amount of games onto tables, and sell them for $5 apiece.  Other stuff is amazingly priced.  Large boxes of Hordes miniatures were half price.  They had a Troll blood box army, normally priced at $140, half price.  There were stacks of Warhammer and 40K books for $3 to $7 apiece.  Other games were being offered at amazing prices.  Everything sold before 10 AM was 20% off.  It was pretty cool.

I didn’t get anything.  I did talk Brian and Collin into buying copies of Dungeon Fantasy powered by GURPS and the DM Screen.  They were 20% off after all. They were also hard to find.  Of course, now that Brian and Collin have the boxes, they will probably be available everywhere.

Eric bought a couple of $5 games.  One was a Keyflower game.  Collin was more hardcore, and bought Twilight Struggle.  I have played Twilight Struggle.  It is called “Struggle” because if you screw up any action in the first few rounds of the game, you struggle for the rest of eternity to not have your ass kicked.  Good game, but unforgiving.  And if you are playing as a novice against someone who knows how to play, good luck trying to have fun.  We came back to Vancouver and then went out to lunch at Don Taco.

Now Don Taco has amazing food.  It is a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant, that is really good.  They have the best carnitas.  Their green sauce for the chili verde carnitas is pretty good, but the carnitas are amazing.

We all met at Don Taco.  Ate, then went to Dice Age to play Paranoia.

So how was the game?

After all, I made you sit through almost 2,500 words of blather about tasty Mexican food, Guardian Games, and other incoherent crap about the quality of the game components and availability of physical copies and PDF copies.

The five clones woke up in a cold, white room.  The clones are wet, and naked.  Pixels cover their private parts.  Their Iball informs them of the names on their co-clones.  The Iball also provides a heads up display showing how many treason stars are on any other clones.

The door opens, and Roz-R-HYT-2 comes in and starts telling them what they will be doing.  Mid discussion, an explosion occurs.  The room rocks, and a piece of synthcrete drops onto a cleaning bot, damaging it beyond immediate repair.  Roz informs them that they don’t need additional training at this point, and Alpha Complex needs them to take the damaged cleaning bot to be repaired.  The characters are told to stand by the entrance, they get dressed and start thinking about how to take on their initial mission.

Bill tries to fix the bot, but only succeeds in shocking himself, however, the bot starts rolling on its treads, backwards into a wall.  Shari tries to pick it up, and struggles with the bot as its trying to continue moving on the treads.  The party is able to pick up the bot and move out into the hallway.

the Friend Computer informs the clones that their role is to take the broken bot to a specific location.  To find that location, the clones see a large yellow arrow on their heads up display.  The downside of the arrow is that it blocks most of their vision, except upon the periphery.

The Friend Computer tells the party the following:

Congratulations on joining the Alpha Complex workforce, citizens! Please accept 1 XP point each as a bonus. XP points can be spent on necessities or luxuries, including increasing your security level. Before you leave the briefing room, ask yourself the following three questions.
One. Do I have all my equipment with me?
Two. Do I know where I’m going?
Four. Do I know what to do when I get there?
Six. Do any of the people around me look like mutants, terrorists or other forms of traitors?

Collin starts to question the number of questions, and the order, then he catches himself, knowing that it is traitorous to question the Friend Computer.  Each clone has their mop.  The mop was issued by the Friend Computer, and must not be lost.

The Friend Computer reinforces this to the clones by informing them:

Citizens! Please recall that issued equipment is your responsibility, and there will be penalties for not taking care of any materials assigned to you. If you leave your equipment in the room it may fall into the hands of terrorists.

The cerebral cortech helps the party by showing the direction to go via a large yellow arrow that blocks most of their vision.

As the clones move down the hall, they see a pop up message from Friend Computer, which informs them that the terrorist Wossname the Not Dead is in their proximity, and he may be after the clone’s mops.  On the periphery of the message and yellow arrow, the clones see a man in a black uniform like theirs sprinting down the corridor towards them.  He looks terrified.

The clones decide to take action.  Shari does her best impression of a scrub bot, holding an actual scrub bot.  Eric tries to hide on the side of the corridor.  The rest of the clones are trying to make themselves scarce.  The clone, apparently Wossname the Not Dead trips over Eric’s leg, or maybe it was Bill’s mop, maybe it was Mikes body, but somehow, the man trips over and breaks his neck.  The corpse of the man lies in the hall.  The clones are not sure what to do now.

But there is a problem.  A mop was broken.  One of the clones now has a broken piece of equipment that was provided by the Friend Computer.  A squad of Troubleshooters  thunders around the corridor, resplendent in their red armor, laser pistols drawn, and halt by the corpse. Their leader fixes you with one metallic eye.  ‘Which of you is responsible for this?’

Things seem to have gone very badly for the clones.  Not even out of the infrared class, and they have already broken a mop, and now they have killed someone who red clearance operatives were chasing.

The Computer interrupts: ‘Congratulations, Infrared Working Party! You have aided Alpha Complex with your selfless act of quick thinking. One less terrorist is one more reason to sleep well tonight. Each of you receives 500 XP points immediately. This is enough to raise each of you to Red level. Well done!’ The Troubleshooters applaud while looking incredibly annoyed.

The Computer continues: ‘However, sensory feedback indicates the destruction of valuable Alpha Complex equipment, specifically a revised standard mop. Infrared Working Party, each of you has five XP points deducted as a lesson in taking care of valuable items in your care.’

‘In recognition of your abilities, you are being reassigned to a new mission, where there will be less chance of damage to equipment. Await new briefing details. Thank you.

The clones are now four XP away from promotion to red level.

As the clones stand about a large scrub-bot appears from a hatch in the wall and makes itself busy ingesting the corpse of Wossname, the broken mop and the smaller scrub-bot. Roz-R-HYT reappears from down the corridor, bearing a sheet of paper. ‘I suppose you think you’re clever? The sector’s in crisis and you go around interrupting the work of Troubleshooters. I’m not impressed. Plus you’ve been reassigned, effective immediately.

‘It says here you’re to go to Sector HOY, where you must find a plug, unplug it, and plug it back in again. Don’t ask me questions: I know as much as you do. Cerebral Coretech will guide you. Keep hold of your mops. This is a 150 XP point mission. And – oh great. Apparently I’m coming too.’

A notification pops up in everyone’s Cerebral Coretech, directing them to the nearest Production, Logistics and Commissary depot.  Production, Logistics and Commissary turns out to be next door to the Technical Services department that you were supposed to deliver the scrub-bot to. PLC, your Cerebral Coretech reminds you, is where you get mission-critical equipment from. A bored-looking technician looks up at you.  ‘Infrared Work Party to sector HOY? Wait there.’

The technician hands the equipment to Roz, ticking each one off on a checklist. ‘Crowbar – issued the last one an hour ago. Breathing apparatus – we’re out. Jetpacks…’ he gives Roz a long-suffering look. ‘Scrub-bot, now, we were supposed to have one come through from Technical Services but there’s been some sort of a hitch. You got mops. They’ll do. Sign here.’ Roz sighs, signs, takes the megaphone, and gives out the rest of the equipment.

Roz keeps the megaphone for herself, but gives the grapple gun, body armor and medkit to the clones.  The clones must sign for each of the pieces of equipment.  There is a handy form that the clones are not allowed to read but are required to sign to obtain the equipment.  Shari signs her name for the body armor.  Eric signs Collin’s clone’s name for the medkit.  Bill signs his own name for the grapple gun.

Sector HOY is not very close. Roz leads you to a bank of turbo-elevators and punches in your destination. The doors close behind you. The elevator drops, changes its mind, goes briefly sideways, and then up.  ‘It’s meant to do that,’ Roz says. ‘At least, it does that.’  The ride seems to go on for a while, and it’s not possible to tell if the elevator is moving any more, or just standing still and vibrating.

After a while, Eric decides to open the door by pushing the button override on the control panel.  As the doors open, through the gap you see that the elevator has stopped about a meter below the red-carpeted floor level. No, the floor is moving. In slow motion a wave of viscous red fluid cascades into the elevator compartment, covering you up to your waist. It smells of strawberry flavoring. Outside, the huge lobby area is awash with it. The guiding arrow appears, pointing straight ahead. Your destination, it says, is subsector K15.

The red substance is Red Dessert Topping (RDT) which tastes like a thickened version of Hawaiian Punch.  The meter deep RDT liquid makes moving very hard in the rooms and hallways.

The clones start exploring the hallway and rooms.  All other clones are moving about, trying to do normal work as though nothing has gone wrong.  It may be a normal thing to have a meter of thick gooey RDT in the hallways and rooms.  All around the area are floating pillows, chairs, tables, and other furniture.  The party chooses to lash together parts and pieces to create a raft.  Now the Friend Computer didn’t ask too many questions about how the furniture pieces were lashed together to create the raft, but then the story needed to keep moving on. This isn’t Pathfinder or Call of Cthulhu after all.  There are no d20 modifiers in this game for raft lashing.  There may need to be, but in this case, raft lashing is not a skill.

The clones move out of the lobby and down the passage in the direction of the glowing arrow. Away from the big spaces, the flooded sector seems largely deserted. Going is slow. The red fluid slops lazily against the corridor walls.  Most of the doors are closed; through the ones that aren’t you can see ordinary rooms, their contents bobbing about.

As the clones explore the area, hoping to find equipment, the rooms they venture into include:

Red-level dormitories. Beds, chairs, small lockers with personal
possessions. Nothing of value.

A Troubleshooter break-room. There are two Red-level laser pistols hanging in holsters from a rack on the wall. It is strictly forbidden for Infrared citizens to use Red-level equipment,

In his room, Collin snags the laser pistols.  This is where the backbiting really starts in earnest.  Shari informs the Friend Computer that Collin has stolen two laser pistols.  As this is going on, Eric steals the two pistols off Collin, and plants them on Mike.  In the end, Shari looks like a tattle tale, while Mike gets offed for holding the two pistols that Collin swiped and Eric stole off Collin and planted on Mike.

While this was all going on, Collin managed to take out the two holsters and drop them to the ground under the RDT liquid.

After a few hundred meters you come to a crossroads. The guide-arrow says to turn left, but that corridor has a red stripe at eye level, meaning that only Red-level and higher citizens can go that way.

This is where the clones realize that Roz is a nasty piece of work.  The clones ask what should be done, after all, Roz is the leader, NOT COLLIN.  We established that early in the game, when Collin thought he might want to suggest some ideas.  Collin was quickly informed via the assignment of treason stars that he was not a leader.  Infrared clones have no status in this world.

William decides to go down the hall, as an infrared clone.  Soon as in by the time that William’s clone moved less than 10 meters down the hall, Roz says ‘Computer! an Infrared citizen is in a Red-level area.’ The voice of the Computer booms from nearby speakers: ‘Infrared citizen! Immediately vacate the Red-level corridor. You now has
one Treason Star. Citizen Roz-R-HYT, receive 30 XP points for your vigilant attention.’

Roz is very happy.  William is not.  Over the next few minutes, different players send clones down, and then report on each other, with Roz getting XP and the clones getting treason stars.  Things go badly for a while, then the party figures out that they need to tough it out, and all go down the prohibited hall and take the hit, while Roz is talking about getting vat grown synthesteak tonight.  Roz is pretty happy.  Initially, she thought that it was going to be a bad thing to have to ferry these snotnose infrared clones around, but it has ended up rather profitable, and entertaining at the same time.

As the clones move on in the hallway, the corridor widens out into a large food-service area. Islands of what looks like congealed Breakfast Mix float serenely between the counter-tops that protrude above the low waves on the liquid. High above, sparks flicker
between shattered lighting-fixtures hanging from the vaulted ceiling. Then there’s a yell of ‘A-HOY sector! Torrents amidship on the scurvy bow port!  Overclock the mainsail and prepare to be motherboarded!’ Five people row into view, paddling a long table with sheets tied to its legs. A black flag with a skull dangles limply from one inverted table-leg.

Somewhere around this point, William realizes that this game isn’t fun.  It is actually like work.  As in his everyday job.  He is given menial tasks, and must do horrible work, and is punished for thinking on his own.  Also, there are backstabbing assholes who are trying to undermine him at every step of the way.  This isn’t fun.  This is just like a normal day.  He is spending his paid holiday doing what a job would normally entail.  What William doesn’t realize is that Mike, as a retired person is the only one not acting out his normal duties.  I am a manager, and as a manager, every day, I act as the Friend Computer.  My job is to make other people regret coming in to work that day.  If I do my job right, they aren’t consciously aware of this.  Instead, there is just enough reward given to them as hollow attaboys that makes the workers think that they are truly valued, but in actuality, aren’t.  Collin, Shari, Eric and William are all part of the cogs in the machine making it turn on sweat and gristle, to make middle management successful.

The PC’s decide to parlay with the pirates.  They could chose to fight, parlay, surrender, wade to safety, or something else.  By parlaying, the clones decide, as in Shari decided, that these pirates must be a member of a secret society.  Shari reports to the Friend Computer, who drops in several yellow level operatives who essentially nuke the entire area.  By this time, each of the clones has been killed at least once.  They have lost equipment, and lost parts and pieces of their uniform.  By the end, some clones will have lost all of their uniforms.

But that is later on.  The action by the yellow level operatives cause all of the clones to have no wounds or treason stars.  This is because all of them died, and are respawned.

The guiding arrow points down a darkened corridor. The walls are narrower here, the ceiling is lower and more wiring has been exposed and eroded by the Red Dessert Topping. After another few minutes the passage opens into a circular room with a wide spiral staircase ascending upwards. A thick stream of red dessert topping pours down into the area from above. The clone’s Cerebral Coretech pings gently to letting them know they have arrived. There is no sign of a plug.

Up the stairs, it looks like something bad has happened. The staircase becomes a tangled mess of smashed metal and bits of Alpha Complex, blocking the way. Red Dessert Topping pours through the gaps in the rubble. Collin queries what is es their Cerebral Coretech map, and is informed that the exploded remains of the Red Dessert Topping storage vat, the remnants of which are still pouring down the stairs.

All of this makes sense somehow.

Collin tries swimming down in the RDT goo, and finds out that as a newly minted clone, he is unable to swim, and drowns in the depths of RTD.  His clone respawns.  Throughout this entire adventure, at any point where someone is killed, there is a mad dash to steal whatever mop and equipment that is left behind by the newly dead clone.

The players seem to get right into the overall game and make sure that they are ready to steal the dead blind.  This is good.  I am concerned that they should be watched closer during the player’s normal 9 to 5 job.

Something stirs in the gloom of the red sea. Long, sinuous lengths as thick as a clone’s arm uncoil from the bottom of the pit and quest upwards towards the light – and the clones.

Fighting ensues.  The bot slams tentacles into the clones.  Collin uses an action card and stuns the bot for 6 rounds.  They kill off three of the six tentacles.  Eric pulls out a bazooka by a special action card, and misses badly, and kills off most of the party.  Never fear, new fresh clones appear and continue to fight.  Mike approaches the monster and is whipped by a tentacle, and his armor fails miserably.  Collin takes his purloined grapple gun and attempts to shoot in the air to be able to rise above the mayhem.  I think he wanted to wait it out.  Now this is where it gets a little weird.

William plays a card that allows him to take the object from Collin, so we decide that Collin shoots the grapple gun, but the sweet sticky RDT causes Collin to lose a grip on the grapple gun.  William grabs it and retracts the grapple wire to shoot up to the ceiling.

Now that wouldn’t be weird, but then, William had to make it weird.  You see, William’s clone died, and took the uniform with it to the depths of the RDT pit.  With no uniform, William was naked as a jaybird.  William decides that as his action, he will pee on everyone but Roz.  You know, you don’t want to piss off management if you can simply fuck with the other employees.  Well…  William flubbed his rolls, and he ended up peeing on Roz, along with everyone else, while the tentacle monster was whipping around and doing nasty damage.

Roz is having nothing to do with being peed on by a naked infrared level nube.  Now, if it were an orange level operative, she would have to take it.  But this will not do.  She shoots William, and kills him.  As the body of the clone drops 60-ft to the RDT surface, another William clone drops in on a chute, naked once again.

Normally, Roz is as effective as any other NPC in a game that I am running.  No help at all.  But in this case, Roz will not accept being peed upon, even in mistake.

Eric notices a black cable.  He thinks that he can electrocute the RDT and maybe kill the bot off.  He does so.  The party members feel a wave of something coursing through them, and I hand out mutation cards.  The electrical surge through the RDT caused mutations in the characters.  As we all know, any mutant must declare their mutation and automatically get two treason points, or they are treasonous for hiding their mutation.  Do you think they registered as mutants?  No.  They didn’t.  This could become fun.

Now that the bot is disabled, the party members decide to try to see if they can unplug the bottom, and get the RDT to drain.  Shari takes the helmet from Mike’s power armor and creates a diving bell.  Eric decides to hold his breath and sink.

In the end, Shari finds another obstacle. A dead clone is attached to the plug, drowned, though their Cerebral Coretech still identifies her as Daphne-G-***-6, where the three stars are garbled characters instead of a sector name. Around her neck, on a cord, is a key to a storage locker, with details of the location of the locker stamped into the metal. It’s in sector THA.

According to Cerebral Coretech, there is no sector THA.

Shari is pretty stoked.  After all, this may be important.  Eric opens the plug, and the RDT starts draining, fast.  Eric and Shari are sucked down the drain and drown, and return as newly developed clones.  Shari is excited… “Do I still have the key?”  “No, your dead clone had it when she was sucked down the drain”.

The clones didn’t bother plugging the drain back when it was done draining.  There shouldn’t be a problem with that, right.  Let’s see.  The clones lost all of their mops, all of their signed for equipment, and didn’t complete the mission as required.  What could possibly be a negative outcome from that?

During the debrief, it comes to light that the clones lost equipment, didn’t fulfill their mission as required, and lost their mops.  In several cases, the clones were also naked, having lost their uniforms.

Things go from bad to worse as Roz takes credit for everything that went “right” or “sort of right”, and piles the errors and problems onto the infrared clones.  That is of course what infrared clones are for.

The debrief officer is Vernon-Y-HYT-2, who wants nothing to do with these sorry excuses for clones.  Vernon rapid fires questions at the clones like:

  • ‘Explain the reasons for your appropriation and misuse of Sector HOY tables/benches/doors/mops/grenades/foodstuffs/Production, Logistics and Commissary paperwork/ et cetera.’
  • ‘You are responsible for the destruction of a valuable SKW-1DD0 unit
    maintenance bot. Can you explain your actions?’
  • ‘Could you identify the source of the red dessert topping?’
  • ‘How did you get past the rogue clone known as Infrared Beard?’
  • ‘Did you observe any anomalous behaviour in any of the clones around you?’
  • ‘Are there any clones you would like to commend for their helpfulness and loyalty to the Computer?’
  • ‘Are there any clones you would like to report to the Computer as possible enemies of Alpha Complex?’
  • ‘What are your reasons for believing this citizen may be an enemy of Alpha Complex?’
  • ‘What are your motives for wanting this citizen to be classified as an enemy of Alpha Complex?’
  • ‘At any point did any clone try to recruit you into a Secret Society?’
  • ‘We identified a power surge that cost the Computer a great many lost kilowatts. Were you responsible for this?’
  • ‘Explain the shocking condition (or loss) of your mops.’

In the end, the clones barely survive.  They are caught unawares of the requirements which was written into the contract that they signed for equipment.

The contract states in part:

I agree to return all equipment in better shape than provided to me in the first place, under penalty of termination. In the event that I argue about the quality of the [redacted] or returned equipment, the Computer will terminate the clone to my left, not me. The clone tot he right of me will also get a treason star. I will get 2 extra experience points for helping to rid these horrible incompetents. In the event that I return a piece of equipment that was not issued to me, Both clones to the left of me will be terminated. This termination may occur at the time of return, or at any time later, when the Computer deems the appropriate time. There is no specific tagging of the unique clones which will be terminated for this action.

William was given the first opportunity to take advantage of this contract provision, but apparently didn’t read it, and wasn’t listening when the Friend Computer recited it to him.  When the Friend Computer asked him if he wanted to follow this stipulation, which would award 1 treason star to Shari and immediately recycle Collin’s clone, Bill didn’t agree, so he was terminated.  Upon reappearing, the Friend Computer turned to Shari, and asked her the same thing.  Shari decided to use the clause in the contract, which immediately terminated William, again, and assigned a new treason star to Mike.

Nobody bothered to register as having mutant powers.

This will be good.

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Dungeon Fantasy Episodes 03 and 04

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I have been lazy.  We played Dungeon Fantasy, powered by GURPS two weekends in a row, and I haven’t blogged anything about it.  Long story short, things were pretty awesome.

We keep learning the rules.  GURPS is not for the faint of heart.  There are a lot of rules.  Some of them don’t make complete sense.  For instance, during combat, you roll to see if you hit, then the person being hit can determine if they are going to dodge, parry or block (if they have something to do that with).  This means that simple combat can be very long compared to other games, as you hit, the opponent parries, the opponent hits, you parry, and with good luck for either you or your opponent, you can do lots of nothing for quite a while.

The defense rolls vary, depending on whether or not the attack is from the front, back, or side.  The more you parry, the harder it gets to parry on that same round.  Some things don’t get a parry, such as sucking in poison gas.  You might have he ability to not be affected by some of the attacks.

All that being said, I really like playing GURPS.  I am not sure that I like running GURPS.  There are a million things to keep track of when you run an RPG.  GURPS is really complex, and requires a lot of work to keep the adventure going.  It doesn’t help when you have players who are like the group we are playing with.  Mike is a good GM, but sometimes, we do too much for him, resulting with pictures like this.

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Now, in Mike’s defense, Sue was not here for today’s game.  She was here for last week’s game, but not this week.  Sue had something going on where she was going to visit their daughter in backwater inbredland.  Not sure where that is exactly.  No, actually, I do know where this is.  It is in the heart of Trump land, but not Alabama.  It must be really hard to stay in backwater, inbredland, where their daughter is working.  I am not naming the daughter, nor the location, out of respect for their privacy.

But, with Sue gone, Mike has lost his anchor.  Last week, with Sue at the game, Mike lost his wallet.  Well, it wasn’t lost, it was simply put into the large cardboard box that Mike brought all of his stuff in.  Mike was convinced that the wallet was in the car, but after a pretty significant amount of time, he found the wallet, hiding underneath the other things that he had brought.

This week, without Sue, he managed to leave the house without his phone and wallet.  He was late, since Sue was not there to keep him on track.  He included the following post to the group chat area that we communicate via Facebook…

Capture

We did not fully realize that Sue was so important in getting Mike out and about in a timely manner, and remembering key things like his wallet and phone.

Over the last couple of sessions, a lot happened.

We are taking part in Mike’s version of the “I Smell a Rat” adventure.  I am calling it Mike’s version, as he seems to include stuff that is outside the normal things that we would expect from Steve Jackson Games.  I have the adventure, but have chosen not to read the text.  I am enjoying Mike’s take on it.  Mike’s version is very different than the version that I am playing on Thursday night, with Loren’s group.

Loren has her own take on it also.  I am playing Puddin in Loren’s game.  I am playing Argua in Mike’s game.  Where Mike’s game has more Cthulhu elements, Loren has more standard dungeon crawl elements.  Both are awesome.

So over the last few weeks, we have been moving forward on our quest to figure out how to survive with our pregens.

Two weeks ago, Argua was convinced that Puddin had stolen the sexy elf thing just to keep Argua from enjoying her recreation time with the sexy elf thing.  Brian and Sue came, and Brian had a new character, but Sue came with an undead version of the sexy elf thing.  Mike also created a cape for Argua…

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Here is a picture from behind, of Argua with the Elfvis cape.

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The cape was created from the (evidently valuable) black tapestry that Argua pulled down to create her cape.  Now, Mike didn’t know it, but I have always wanted a black velvet Elvis painting.  There is something truly tacky, in the vein of pink flamingos on your lawn.

So, Mike told me, you can use blue tack to attach the cape to the mini, and my response was “nope, the mini needs the Elfvis cape”.  The best part is eventually, the mini will be put back in the Zombicide box, and she will occasionally show up in that game.

So where was I?

Two weeks ago, we were in the large room with the dead multi armed snake lady thing.  After the snake lady was killed, we found three new exits from the room.  From the perspective of our entrance through the nice and warm hallway, the wall on the right had a canvas cover that was painted to look like the rock wall.  Puddin found the hidden door.  At the back of the room was an altar, with a crack in the wall that the nice six armed lady came through.  The left wall had a hallway.  The hallway had three doors on the left, and two doors and a long hallway on the right side.

Behind the canvas wall was another hallway.  Argua, the knight and the spinny kicky lady stood at the canvas cover.  It smelled awful.  Just as the party was ready to kill the zombies behind the canvas, the druid dwarf creates a wall of rock.  What we didn’t realize was that the wall of rock should only last about a minute, and we would have been swarmed by the 15 zombies anyway.  Not knowing all of the rules, we missed that.  But it came back to bite us in the butt the next week.

Argua was convinced that Puddin had stolen her sexy elf thing, and she was ready to kill the horrible halfling for stealing her sexy elf thing.  When Puddin arrived, she was followed by the sexy elf thing who was now an animated dead.  No explanation given, but Puddin spun a tale about how she was returning, and the sexy elf thing was now better.  Brian was now playing Uncle somebody.  From Argua’s perspective, it didn’t matter who anyone was playing, since she had her sexy elf thing again.  Argua had Puddin tie the 50 ft rope onto the dead elf, and to her self, so that they would never be more than 20 ft apart.

Argua was fascinated by the altar.  The other “smart” party members said that the altar was cursed.  Argua didn’t believe them.  She poked at the altar, and got a nice shock, kind of like when you stick your tongue on a 9 volt battery.  It felt good.  She kept poking at it, getting an energizing jolt.  But at on point, it bit back hard.  And at that point, Argua decided to leave it alone.

Argua went down the hall with the rest of the group and started looking at the doors.  She decided that the first one needed to be bashed in.  It was a tough door, but after a good 45 seconds or so of bashing on it, she got through, meanwhile letting every wandering monster in a five mile radius know that something was happening there.

Inside the room were three nice guys who wanted to play patty cake with the party members.  These guys had scimitars for hands, and looked like these:

Flesh Golems

These guys ended up dead, and it took a little while to do it.  Eventually, they were all dismembered again, but not after they hit several party members with their nasty scimitar hands.

The next two rooms on the left side of the hall had two nasty critters.  One was a stone golem with a giant maul, and the other one was some form of monster encased in iron armor.

The stone golem ended up hitting Argua knocking her down to 0 hit points, but she made her save.  The party was able to kill the stone golem, and Argua made her save.  However, when the iron bound monster came out, things got bad for Argua.  She attempted to hit the new bad guy, but failed her health roll, so she dropped to the ground, unconscious.

Now this was pretty good in the end for Argua.  Being unconscious was bad, but the iron bound monster lost interest in Argua before he could smash Argua to way below 0 hit points.  The knight had a good idea.  He told the armored monster that we were sent by Captain Roy, and we were instructed to rid the dungeon of vermin.  Now, Colin, or Kolon or Cologne, whatever his name is spelled like made an awesome roll, and convinced the iron bound monster to go back to his room.

Now, the joke about Colin, or however his name is spelled is an inside joke, that he should appreciate.  He may not appreciate the inside joke as much as the rest of us, but if you can’t laugh at your self, or how you are treated after 10 years of servitude, then what can you laugh at?

At about this time, the mage, cleric, druid and everyone else is pretty much worn down and out.  Everyone is out of fatigue points, so no more magic or healing is available until some major rest is completed.

And so we ended the session, saying fond farewells to Sue, who was on her way to Inbredland.  We were all hoping that drinking the water would not dull her sensibilities, and suggested that drinking pure grain alcohol would likely help.

There should be plenty of pure grain alcohol in inbredland.  As long as she can keep out of the way of the revenuers, and be able to bootleg her rental car, she should be ok.

So this week, we come back, and Mike came without Sue, but he had his phone and wallet, but still late.

We picked up where we left off, with all of the magic users and clerics complaining that they were tired and wanted to rest.  We rested up, and Eric tried vainly to restore health points to a couple of characters, critting in a negative way.  Nothing good came from several of his rolls, but Argua was brought back up to full health.

As the party was sitting around, Argua started getting bored.  IT happens with half ogres.  Nothing to bash, what the heck is she supposed to do?

Argue takes her sexy elf thing and has a two hour twofer right next to the party while they are sleeping, or trying to sleep.  I don’t think that much rest occurred while Argua was having her way with the sexy elf thing.

After two hours, Argua was pretty tired, and started napping while the rest of the party decided it was time to get back into the game.  Argua, sated, decided to sleep for a while.

The party opened the far door on the right side of the hallway, and found a room that looked like it was an alchemy lab which exploded.  There was a green mist floating around the ceiling of the room.  The mist attacks the group, fast, and tries to poison the party members.  The knight is hit hard, and just as the gas tries to kill the new Brian mage, Brian uses his blink spell to appear further away from the gaseous cloud.  The druid dwarf has another moment of inspiration, and clears the air via a spell which really pisses off the gaseous cloud.  The gas cloud retreats and reappears looking like a demented evil air elemental.  The druid hits it again, and kills the gaseous cloud / demented air elemental.

So the party started looking around in the destroyed room, looking for anything that might be worth selling.  What was Argua do do?  Well, not much.  She was healed to 16 hp, and was bored.  So while the party was looking into the ruined room, Argua goes and opens the door to the nasty armored thing, and told it that Captain Ron wanted his help ridding the dungeon of the adventuring party.  Now, Argua is not malicious, just bored.  This thing was not defeated, and needed to die.  You don’t just start a fight with Argua and then leave.  Things must be completed.

So the boss monster starts coming out, and begins to set up to attack the party, but then the zombies that we didn’t resolve the last session come back for a snack.  A party snack.  Argua goes to fight zombies.  The big iron bound monster fights side by side with Argua.  I think the knight was in there somewhere.  Maybe the knight was fighting side by side with Argua and the big iron bound monster was coming up behind.  Argua doesn’t see much benefit in keeping the weak who must wear plate armor, if they were good fighters, they would have tough skin.

During the fight with the zombies, the spinny kicky lady tries to grab the rope that links Argua to her sexy elf beast, but Argua doesn’t feel anything.

Over the next few rounds. the druid and the mage drop tons of rock on the zombies, slowing them down.  Argua and the metal monster end up killing off all of the poor unfortunate zombies.  Then the knight grapples with the iron monster, and ends up ripping the helmet off of the monster, revealing a flesh golem underneath.  Without having the helmet, the monster does not have the 17 DR any more, and gets killed in a big way.

The party tries to pull the armor off of the flesh golem, hoping that there would be some value.  Meanwhile, Argua breaks down the door and finds a library.  Books.  More worthless crap.  Nothing to eat, nothing to drink, no gold.  Books.  But, at the far side of the room is a book on an altar that includes some tentacles coming out of it.  Argua freaks, and crosses the room in two seconds, and destroys the book on the altar.

Meanwhile, books start flying and attacking the party.  The books don’t hurt Argua, but they do destroy her sexy elf beast.  Argua doesn’t realize her sexy elf beast is dead, again.  She can drag him on the line for quite a while before parts start falling off the double dead elf.

Meanwhile, the party is thinking that there may be some way to get some books that are of value.  Argua catches some books and rips them to shreds.  The shreds continue to fly around.

The party does find two books of value, each one has spells that will be valuable to the mages and clerics of the party.  Argue finds nothing of value, once again, no food, no drink, nothing of value.  Argua stands at the door of the room, catching books and pulling them out of the room, then ripping them to shreds and dropping them on the floor next to her.

While the party is figuring out what to do with the books and spells, Argua gets bored again, and goes and knocks down the final door.

Inside that room are four nasty little critters. Well, nasty to some of the party members, like the knight who needs armor.  These critters are small chittering beasts that attack with some form of life loss attack that bypasses all DR.  They also regenerate their hitpoints.

The nasties die horrible deaths.  They hit the knight, and try to hit the mage, who blinks away.  In the end, there are two amazing kills.

Both of the kills are pretty much the same.  Eric the cleric decides to whack one of the critters in the head.  He hits, the critter, the critter doesn’t dodge.  Eric rolls really well and one-shots the nasty little beast.  He did something like 400 damage or some ridiculous thing because he rolled really well by smacking it with his staff.

Brian decided to do the same thing.  I showed Brian the all out attack where you do a determined attack, and sweet things happen.

Capture Now, the only problem with an all out attack is that you don’t get a defense.  No parry, no block, no dodge.  Brian does the math, and determines that a determined all out attack is a pretty sweet thing to do.  So he does it, hitting the bad guy from behind.  He basically does more than enough damage to the critters head to kill it several times over.

We ended at that point.  We talked about what sort of characters would be good for a 100 point campaign.

We also looked forward to Sue returning.  Hoping that drinking the water in inbredland won’t cause her to change.

Dungeon Fantasy Episode 02

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We met again yesterday to play Dungeon Fantasy.  Mike was GM’ing, I got to play, again (!!!!!!)  I like playing Dungeon Fantasy.  I like playing GURPS.  Most importantly, I like playing or GM’ing with this group.  They are a lot of fun.  The RP is more important than the dice rolling.

We started out with a coworker, Nick coming by, and saying hi.  Shari couldn’t place him. He was some dude she recognized.  She tried putting on her glasses, taking them of, and kept saying “you look familiar”.  Nick was playing along.

Nick is heavy into Pathfinder, and I keep trying to push him into GURPS, Savage Worlds, Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, Dungeon Crawl Classics, maybe even Ponyfinder.  So far, he has not followed the siren song of other gaming systems.  He and his group are happy with Pathfinder.  That is OK, Pathfinder is a lot of fun.  I get it.  If you are going to spend the equivalent of the gross domestic product of a small African nation on RPG books, just to be able to effectively play one character, you don’t need to spend the equivalent of the gross domestic product of Germany to become fully kitted with the books necessary to play more than one game.  And that doesn’t even consider the space needed for the multiple bookshelves just to house the stuff.

All that being said, I will still try to get Nick to come to the dark side, and try something other than Pathfinder.

Bill was playing a druidic dwarf, and bill had no miniature.  So Mike tried to provide one for him to use during the game.

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Bill objected.  I am not sure exactly what Bill was objecting to, but I think he was concerned about how well this miniature would fit in with the tactical methods of the game, knowing that his miniature took up more than one hex.  Mike took pity on Bill, and replaced the dwarf with horrible flatulence with a 1970’s cop mini.

I also talked with Jirimiah, and told him that we needed to find ways to ring the bell at the front counter when we were not at the game store.

Jirimiah also said that he doesn’t want to be a part of any social media.  I think he is worried that in some way, he will have his soul stolen by social media, similar to how some indigenous people are convinced that a camera steals the soul.

That being said… I found a picture on Facebook that someone posted for another game store.  Jirimiah was in the picture.

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I am not going to say what person is Jirimiah, as we want to preserve his soul and anonymity, but he is there.  Now, that picture was posted on Facebook a couple of months ago.  Now it is posted again in a blog.  Things are getting out of hand.  Next, his picture will be used in a meme…

I am not going to say which person in the photo is Jirimiah, but I am going to say that he is not the person with brown hair wearing a dress.

Sue and Brian were gone from today’s game.  Their absence is very important later on.

Mike handed me a note, saying that because I was in the smoky goodness of whatever the rest of the party was doing when we hotboxed in the room during the last session, Argua knew someone in the party was trying to kill me.  Now, since Arugua has a 7 int, 1 above sentience, I let Mike make my intuition rolls, and let him tell me that it means.

This has caused some fun confusion for the party.  Well, maybe not for the party, but it was fun for me playing Argua.  I let Mike roll the 3d6 and then interpret what Argua would determine.  Since Argua knew that someone was trying to kill me, I asked Mike to roll an intuition roll, and let me know if I pieced together the “facts” as to who was trying to kill me.  Mike rolled the dice, then pointed at Eric, who is playing a cleric… hey, that rhymes… Eric the Cleric…

So Argua knew what sort of horrible individual was trying to kill her.  And it made sense, the person was that horrible nunlike cleric who “healed” the party.  Argua knew that it must be the cleric, since Argua was wounded in the dungeon earlier, and the cleric healed everyone up but Argua.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t ask for healing, and the cleric used up all of his fatigue points healing everyone else.  The cleric didn’t help Argua, and that reinforced the idea that the horrible magic using cleric wanted Argua dead.  The horrible cleric also probably wanted Mr. Hacksey and the beautiful gold lame leopard print leather armor.  This cleric was bad.  Argua needed to kill the cleric, soon.

So the party moves out of the room with the flaming skull, and into the poo river.  This is a 2 hex wide hallway, that goes for a long distance in both ways, and is filled with raw sewage.  Argua sees her chance.  The rest of the party moves into the poo river. The dwarf druid makes some concrete overshoes using earth magic, and tries to klomp his way upstream.  The ninja master tries to float in the chest that originally held the silver container.  The knight boldly goes forward.  Only the horrible untrustworthy cleric and Argua are left.

Argua follows the cleric, and “trips” her to fall into the raw sewage river, then  falls on top of the cleric, to hold her under for a while.  Then Argua stands up, and pulls the cleric out of the raw sewage, and slams her into a wall, snarling a few well placed words like “I know you”

Unfortunately for the cleric, she doesn’t know why Argua is doing this.  It makes no sense.  After all, what does it mean when a half ogre tries to drown you, then slams you into a wall while snarling “I know you”?   Argua senses the cleric’s confusion and determines it is fear, satisfied that she has made her point, and knowing that the cleric is coughing and looking quite ill, Argua drops the cleric back into the water and trudges up the poo river after the rest of the party.

The other party members had found an alcove upstream.  The alcove included a nasty metalic spider construct.  They were fighting it as best as possible.

As Argua approached the rest of the party, the knight (Collin) said “Do you have the sense of duty disadvantage”, questioning why Argua was picking on the cleric.  I asked Mike to make another intuition roll, to determine if the Knight also wanted to kill Argua.

Yes, the knight was in league with the cleric, and wanted to also kill Argua to take Mr. Hacksey and the beautiful gold lame leather armor.  This would not do.

Argua grabs the back of the knight’s armor, and hauls him out of the alcove into the poo river and spins him around.

Now the knight continued to show cowardice, after all, he was scheming to kill Argua.  The knight said “I don’t know why you are doing this, but I will not fight you”  Now, the knight was trying to use intimidation while saying this, but Collin failed his intimidation check, and so it sounded more like a 13 year old with his voice cracking than a sturdy knight commanding.  This fit into what Argua belived, that the Knight was a coward and is afraid of being killed by Argua.  A non-worthy opponent trying to kill Argua.  Argua, enraged, swings Mr. Hacksey at the knight, but the knight parries.  Argua roars at the knight, and decides that the knight is not a worthy opponent, since he thinks that standing there waiting to be cut down is a good way to die.

The knight is likely a backstabbing thief, not an honorable knight.  Argua will not kill the knight yet, and the knight looks particularly pitiful, cowering in fear, continuing to say “I will not fight you”.  The knight is obviously not a worthy opponent.

The ninja mistress and the druid killed off the mechanical spider while the knight was cowering in front of Argua.  They then “needed” to rest for some reason.  Argua was having none of that.  She wanted to continue on.  Argua found a badly hidden door, and smashed it down, and entered a long skinny tunnel.  The tunnel had pretty swirly lights in the wall.  As they swirled, Argua felt very warm and comfy.  These pretty lights were really neat.  She decided that they would not make a nice necklace, and then she went to the end of the hallway, and opened the door.  On the other side of the door was a large room, with a table on the opposite side of the room.

The wall on the left side of the room had a really nice black velvet curtain.  The wall on the opposite side of the room had a big hole in it.  The wall on the right side of the room had a canvas painting.  The room was very tall, and very well lit.

At this point, Argua needed to wait, as the GM decided that the rest of the party needed to be allowed to rest for a half hour.  The druid made up some sort of mushroom soup that he fed to everyone.  As the party was ready to move on, they entered the long hallway with the pretty swirly lights, and the druid figured out that this was evil magic.  Like really nasty bad stuff.  The colorful swirly lights in the wall were runes that had been cast in the wall, acting as a ward.  Some of the party members were not affected by the runes, some were cooked, and took a bunch of hit points damage and fatigue.

The druid gave Argua a flask with the mushroom stew, and Argua gobbled it all down, licking the flask clean, inside and out.  The mushroom stew was to remove the detrimental effects of the hotbox room, and Argua now knew that she had scared the rest of the party into leaving Mr. Hacksey and her beautiful leather armor alone.  In metagaming style, we were no longer suffering the ill effects of the curse.

Then something bad happened.  The druid mentioned that it was too bad that we were missing the thief, and the half elf wizard – the sexy plaything of Argua.

Argua started thinking with all 1 point of intelligence over sentience.  Argua realized that the thief stole her sexy elf plaything.  That would not do.  Puddin the thief will need to answer for stealing Argua’s prissy spindly sexy half elf.  Puddin is going to die.  Nobody steals a sexy elf plaything from Argua.

This was made worse, as when Argua made this connection, and vocalized it to the party, the knight said “yeah, that’s it”.  This cemented in Argua’s mind that Puddin was a bad thief who stole the elf thing from Argua.

Now, it is possible that the knight said “yeah that’s it” sarcastically, but half ogres don’t get sarcasm.  You see, they inherit the anti-sarcasm gene from the ogre side.  Never use sarcasm on an ogre or a half ogre.  They just don’t get it.  And the knight sealed Puddin’s fate.

Puddin,was going to die.  The master mapmaker, Argua started sketching out what was going to happen.

Here is what Argua remembers from the hallway with the poo river.  Argua is the well developed figure in black, holding Mr. Hacksey.  The knight, in purple and the cleric in orange are cowering in fear before Argua.  Puddin, represented by Hello Kitty scientist is mixing a potion to steal the sexy elf thing from Argua.

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Argua then dreams of ridding the world of the evil Puddin thief.  Argua, again with Mr. Hacksey stands over Puddin’s bloody corpse smashing the thieve’s body into little halfling bits, while Puddin’s spirit floats above in heaven thinking about how she shouldn’t have screwed with Argua.

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The party finally makes it into the room.  The cleric and druid are complaining about how it is really evil and are harshing their buzz.  Argua goes right to the black velvet curtain on the left wall and pulls it down to make her a cape.

The knight moves in and a six armed snake thing comes into the room, swinging scimitars all around.  The cleric decides that this snake thing is evil, and must be vanquished.  The cowardly knight things it may be better to leave.

The knight decides to attack the snake beast front on so that the rest of the party can scurry away.  Argua looks fabulous with her new black velvet cape.

The snake thing attacks, and attacks, and attacks, and attacks, and attacks, and attacks.  The snake thing gets six attacks with scimitars per round. That is pretty nasty.

The ninja mistress drops to the ground and apparently takes a nap.  Argua is not sure what is going on, but Shari keeps saying that she is medicating, or something like that.  The cleric and druid complain about how evil the room is, and run across the room to the hallway that is behind where Argua took the velvet curtain from.

Argua saunters over to where she can use her heavy sling on the beast.  And the fight continues.  The knight tries to hit the snake thing, and mostly misses.  The dodge on the snake thing is pretty good.

Argua scores a couple of hits on the snake thing with the sling, doing pretty significant damage, but the snake thing keeps healing up.

Then the medicated ninja mistress jumps up and grapples the snake thing.  She successfully grapples the snake.  The snake doesn’t manage to break the grapple.  The knight chops at the snake thing, cutting off one of its arms.

Argua hurls another rock at the snake thing.  It hits, and the snake thing attempts to dodge, and gets a critical success.  Argua rolls to see if she hits the ninja mistress instead, and does.  The ninja mistress takes 4d6+1 damage, which knocks her below 0 hit points, but she makes the health roll, which allows her to maintain the grapple.

From Argua’s perspective, this is good.  The ninja mistress knows now to never cross Argua.  Argua will hurt anyone who crosses her.

The ninja mistress wants to push the snake thing over to the table, which everyone is calling a sacrificial altar.  Argua is confused.  It is a large stone table, with blood all over it.  It looks like the dinner table that Argua ate at every day of her life growing up with her ogre mother.  For some reason, these “civilized” people associated blood on the table with sacrifice instead of Sunday evening family meals.  Being a barbarian in a “civilized” world is so confusing.

The ninja mistress doesn’t make her health roll, and since she is below 0 hit points, she falls unconscious.  Once again, Argua likes this outcome, as she has shown a friend what will happen if that friend crosses her, even when that friend does all sorts of flippy bouncy jumpy stuff.

More importantly, the knight, druid and cleric also saw this.  They should be cowed by Argua’s ability to bash others into unconsciousness.

The cowardly knight then tries to push the six armed snake lady into the stone sacrifical table, yelling at Argua to hack her to bits.  Argua hasn’t figured out that the arms don’t heal back, but the body damage does.  Now the snake lady only has five arms, and five attacks.

Argua starts hacking with Mr. Hackesy, and does massive damage to the snake lady’s body.  But she keeps healing.

At this point, the GM, Mike starts some sort of strange ritual.  He writes the name “Ernest Hemmingway” on a scrap of paper, the name has a cloud around it, and Mike starts showing it to all of us.

I say “What?  The Old Man And The Sea?  Do we need to get a big tuna to feed her?”  Now Mike wants us to clue into another book by Ernie, and that is “Farewell to Arms”.  I get it, but Argua would never get it.  I allow Mike to make intuition rolls to see if Argua would figure out to cut off arms, vs, hitting her for 4d+3 damage from Mr. Hacksey.  Nope, not yet.

The battle continues.  The druid and the cleric are so affected by the negative evil energy in the room that they are having problems even conjuring up spells.  The druid keeps failing at lightening bolts.  The cleric is trying to do something, anything, but is at massive disadvantage because of the negative energy.  The druid is able to hit the evil beast with some lightening, but it really doesn’t seem to affect the (now) five armed snake lady.

Argua and the knight keep hacking away at the snake lady.  She loses a couple of arms, and then has something happen that shocks her, and she loses all ability to fight back, unless she makes a int roll at -4.

We hack her to bits.  It isn’t pretty, but eventually, there is nothing left but little pieces of goo.

I am not sure who does it, but someone pulls the canvas back, and finds another chamber, this one is full of zombies.

It is at this point that Argua realizes the true depth of depravity of Puddn’s horrible acts.  She stole the sexy elf thing to make the elf into a zombie.  Yes.  This is bad.  Puddin is beyond evil and nasty.

Argua and the knight decide that they are going to square off against the zombies.  Then the druid comes into the room and fills the passage entrance into the room with an earth wall.  The druid is no fun.  We had lots of zombies to kill, and the druid just shut them out.

The druid said they needed to “rest” again.

Now, the cleric once again showed her indifference to the party.  Argua took a hit from the snake lady, and dropped 16 of her 26 hit points.  Did the cleric offer to heal Argua?  No.  The cleric said something like “I am really tired, I need to rest”

The cleric may still have it out for Argua.

Dungeon Fantasy Episode 01

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Mike realized his mistake too late. He volunteered to run Dungeon Fantasy powered by GURPS with the normal group. Yes, he regretted his decision shortly after he tried for the fourth time in rage first hour, saying yet again “Welcome Dungeon Delvers to the Dice Age Tavern and food emporium “.

Another hour later, 2 hours into the gaming session, the party is almost, kind of close to the bottom of the staircase. Almost. Kinda sorta slightly close.

They allowed Argua, the half ogre Barbarian the mapmaking task. She did her best.

She produced beauties like:

And

 

Quotes of Mike, the DM

”I encourage role play, but jeez”

”You could go to eat a meal and come on back and we would still be on the stairs“

”Do you have any DR?”

”Oh My,” turns away in shock, “I specifically did not say that because I thought I would cross a line!”

”This wasn’t supposed to happen, not on the staircase!”

Shari “How much is that in store credit.”  Mike “What? A night with a dead school girl?”

”that would have been epic, but it didn’t happen.”

Rob “It is kind of like the roof of the van.”, Mike, reaction like visibly ill

and then there is always the constant threat of the curse.

341F7F03-46A9-49DF-99A6-36E0EB51BB20

Then more mapmaking adventure by the half ogre Barbarian

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The party went down the stairs into the basement, Sue’s rogue gets caught in the spider web and the Barbarian yanks her back by grabbing her by the hair and using her 21 strength.  We are attacked by spiders and the mage lights the spider web on fire.  Shari’s Kung fu mistress is dead by spider bite.

Here is what the map looks like with minis.

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As you can easily see, the half ogre Barbarian is a better mapmaker than the DM

Sue’s rogue finds another friendly spider, who wants to say hi.  Unfortunately no one speaks spider and assume the friendly spider actually is attacking.  They kill Mr Spider before anyone can stop the madness

E58FD2F5-926B-45DA-9ACA-BB861D897201

After the spider was murdered, we found a door which opened into a smaller room that had a loose stone in the doorway. Almost all of us make our Dex roll except Brian and Bill who took some minor slashing damage from blades swishing out of the wall, cutting legs.

Inside the room is a chest.  Argua smacks the lock off the chest, opens it and spies a fine silver flask.  Argua picks up the flask and shakes it, it sounds like liquid.  She unstoppers the flask and tries to drink it.  Instead, a fiery skull pops out and attacks.  The skull bites Argua and does a few HP damage

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The battle is starting and Brian uses magic to put out the skull’s flame.  Eric makes a detect evil roll, and determines that the flaming skull is very evil.  Eric casts protection from evil.  The skull keeps biting and the party kills it, dead.

The party finds five valuable bags of pipe weed, and the silver flask that formerly held the flaming skull.  The party decides to hot box and get high from the pipe weed.

 

We all get the following disadvantages…

short attention span

absent mindedness

laziness

gluttony

willpower is lowered by 1

For some reason, Collin assumes his stoned character must do macrame.

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And then the adventure officially went off the rails.

the ogre takes a nap as something comes down the hall.  0C4C7B80-865B-4274-BCE2-F24AD595FA42

The gellatinous cube enters and Collin says “I got this”. This is when characters usually start becoming dead.

Brian used fire magic and hurts it.  Collin attacks with a sword, and finds out that gelatinous cubes are cruel to bladed weapons.  Collin hit with his sword, did 14 damage, which had a DR of 2 and the resulting damage was divided by 3. Which was few hp done.

Gamma World, 7th Edition, Episode 05

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It was a TPK.  And it wasn’t pretty.  We played Gamma World 7th Ed again yesterday.  Everyone was chuffed, since everyone was now 3rd level.  Woot, new things to do, new ways to cause mayhem.

Not so much.

Maybe not at all.

Well, to be fair, it was not a good thing for the party.  They lurched into the adventure and got glicked.  Badly.  There were some high parts, and there were a lot of parts where the party wished they were high, just to take the edge off the pain.

So what happened?  Once again, with this group, it is kind of hard to explain.  Strategy?  Nope.  Tactics?  Nope.  Bull running into the danger, not really.  More of a whimpering death to be honest.

It all started out with Mike bringing Dungeon Fantasy (powered by GURPS) characters to the game.

Now, being called Dungeon Fantasy powered by GURPS reminds of Idiocracy, brought to you by Carl’s Jr.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Idiocracy, go see it now.  It is one of the best distopian future movies, ever.  If you haven’t figured out my politics by now, I firmly believe that this is where we are headed.

Every great society only lasts for so long.  After some point, great societies collapse for a variety of reasons.  The USA has been a great society for some time.  It could be argued that we have been great since the dawn of the 20th century, or since sometime after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  In any event, we are now political bogged down, and being run by a failed business man, who seems happy in his role of acting as a loose cannon while destroying our relationships with the other countries in the world.

At least when President Reagan pushed his Star Wars agenda and his saber rattling, there was a pretty obvious reason behind it.  With President Trump, it seems that all he wants to do is be chaotic and change things, no matter how well or badly they were working before he became president.  It also doesn’t’ seem to matter to President Trump how many people are affected by his decisions, good or bad.

Wait… I am getting away from gaming, and into politics.  I need to keep focused.  This is extremely hard when I see news clips like this…

Let’s not pay attention to his callous comparison of the loss of life and terrible conditions in Puerto Rico, to Hurricane Katrina.  Let’s not pay attention to the fact that while the three previous presidents showed empathy to the survivors and victims of other natural disasters, President Trump is doing three point shots with paper towels.  Jesus fucking Christ, how is it that this country elected this dildo?

and while I am watching the news clip above, I can’t help but see this:

and I keep waiting for the press conference where Trump does the Philly Phanatic dance like this with one of the reporters from Fox news:

So, will I get back on track about gaming, or will I continue to show you disturbing possible futures?  Probably both.

Calling President Trump a dildo is not right.  You see, a dildo has some purpose, albeit one that probably should remain in the privacy of a home.  I am amazed that Donald Trump is the best that the Republican Party provided for the election.

Now, they didn’t really have a dream team to start with.  I mean, look at some of the others that the Republican party also ran.

  • Ted Cruz
  • Ben Carson
  • Chris Christie
  • Rick Santorum
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Rick Perry
  • Scott Walker

Woo!  There is a bunch of not so greats also.

Now Mike is going to run a Dungeon Fantasy powered by GURPS campaign next week.  I have chosen a half ogre character.  She is not very smart.  I think that I will need to troll the Internet and find some really great quotes and fantasies that one of these candidates believed in and use it as some taglines for my character.

If I select Ben Carson, then I could say things like:

  • “My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain. Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain,”
  • “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed, I’m telling you, there is a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
  • “This is a general pattern that you see before tyranny occurs. There are many countries where that has occurred where they disarm the populace before they impose their tyrannical rule. That’s not a rare situation and that’s something that we don’t want to ever even think about”

If I model the character off of Ted Cruz, I can say things like:

  • “Last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America. Look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila.”
  • “The world is on fire! Yes! Your world is on fire!”
  • “Always be sexy, I salute that message.”
  • “When Americans tried it, they discovered they did not like green eggs and ham and they did not like Obamacare either. They did not like Obamacare in a box with a fox, in a house or with a mouse.”
  • “If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution make you a wacko bird, then you can count me a very proud wacko bird.”

and then if I model the character off Rick Perry… I can say things like:

  • “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that – and I look at the homosexual issue the same way,”
  • “I will tell you: It’s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the — what’s the third one there? Let’s see. … OK. So Commerce, Education and the — … The third agency of government I would — I would do away with the Education, the … Commerce and — let’s see — I can’t.  The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”

     

  • “The reason that we fought the [American] Revolution in the 16th century — was to get away from that kind of onerous crown, if you will.”
  • “You can always follow me on Tweeter.”
  • “I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution.”

Now, you might say “Why, Rob, would you model your low IQ half ogre character off of a Republican presidential candidate?  Why not?  What better source of moronic quotes could I use?

I know, you are going to point at the Democratic candidates, and say “But they say stupid things too.”  Yes, you are right.  All people are capable of being stupid.  It doesn’t matter what your background is, you all have the opportunity to say or do something stupid, or be filmed doing something stupid.

Then there is this.

michele-bachmann-corndog

and, not to be outdone in the corndog fellatio contest, Rick Perry had to also stand up and be counted when it mattered.

rick-perry

Yup… Consider his quotes on the issue…

“Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink. And, even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender.”

Evidently, (P)Rick (with the silent P), has decided that he will not engage in sexual activity with the gender he really wants, but has been practicing on corndogs in case he ever changes his mind.

Now, I have nothing against homosexuality.  Really.  What I have a problem with is self important twats making decisions for millions of people who think that they are right because they have deluded themselves.

Jeez, All this because of Mike wanting to run Dungeon Fantasy, powered by GURPS. Thanks Mike.

So you might be wondering… OK, I get the politics thing.  After all, but what is with the corndog thing?

Glad you asked.

You see, for the last couple of weeks, Collin has been bringing corndogs to the gaming table.  This week, he had corndogs and summer rolls.  That caused some conversation about phallic shaped food.  It got very immature very quickly, not surprisingly.

We also showed this video to Jirimiah.

I haven’t mentioned Jirimiah much in the last few weeks.  He has been really busy at work.  Generally, he doesn’t have a lot of time to deal with our antics. And, I figure that I want to lull him into a sense of control over the group before we go batshit insane on him again.

But until then, we plan.

I am taking the next week off of work.  Nothing big is going on, I just wanted to get some recharge time.  I have minis to paint, books to read, dogs to hang out with.  Molly is working, kids are in school.  I would have preferred to take some time off when they were all here, but the summer was insane at work.

I have been looking into taking some Dungeon Fantasy books to Office Depot and having them printed out.  It looks like I can get the 32 page PDF files printed out in a black and white printed saddle stitch binding, with a heavy cardboard cover and 24 pound paper for about $5 apiece.  Likewise, it looks like I can have five of the 32 page books bound together into a hardbound book for about $30.  I am not sure which is better.  I will probably do the individual saddle stitch files, since binding a bunch of files together may be a bit of a pain.

I like having the PDF files, but I like paper copies better.  The PDF files are good for doing word searches on, especially for books like the Gamma World 7th Edition, where the index sucks eggs.  If you have the PDF files, you can do a keyword search and hopefully find the thing you are looking for better.

However, I like paper copies to play with.  I can put markers into the book and flip back and forth between pages as necessary.

I looked at Lulu, and that had promise, but they really want you to print a bunch of copies of the same book.  I am doing this to print out copies of PDF files that I own, and am not looking to create a copyright problem.  I just want to have a physical copy for the table play.

So where was I?  Oh yes… TPK

callofcthulu

Well, we weren’t playing Call of Cthulhu, but it was not too far from this.

The party had a pretty hard thing to do.  They entered a chamber about 100-ft across, and about 80-ft wide.

At the entry door, there was a 2 square by 2 square flat area, everything else sloped down towards the center of the room.  In the center of the room was a complete “wall” of laser lights, the entire width of the room, and 15-ft deep, going from floor to ceiling.

Wow, another kill box.  That is so surprising for Gamma World 7th Edition.

Eric goes first.  He picks one of the mechanical rats from Mikes rat swarm, and throws it down towards the center of the room, into the laser beams.  With a huge flash, the rat is cooked, and Mike takes some serious damage.

Hmmm.  What to do, what to do?

Collin and Brian enter the room.  They stay on the 10-ft X 10-ft flat area by the door.  They try to pop off some attacks, and miss the bad guys.

By this time, they realize that there are three floating robots, and three rabbit looking things across the room.  There is also a console on the far side of the room.  The rabbit looking things have guns.

RACE_Hoop

Now, Shari is all excited, since she likes rabbits.  But these guys are pretty nasty.

The robots go, and all three shoot rockets at Brian and Collin.  They hit, and Brian is dead.  Down.  Not dead / dead, just below 0 hit points.  Collin isn’t doing so well either.  Brian looks stunned.  He got to move into the room, and then die.  One freaking turn.

In all fairness, he got to raise his character to third level, then enter the room, then die.

Well, it is Gamma World, and shit happens badly a lot.

Eric came into the room, and tried to do something that would help the party.  It didn’t go well.  When the party members stepped onto the slippery downsloped floor, they had to make an acrobatics check (not an athletics check), and in many cases, they failed the check.  Now in many cases in Gamma World, the players have paired statistics, so they can choose the better of them for the player at that time.  For example, in many cases, the character can choose to take the better of athletics or acrobatics.  Acrobatics is dex based.  Athletics is str based.  This means that a player usually can either muscle through (using str) the task, or try to finesse their way through (using dex)

However, in this case, it was only acrobatics.  Were you dexterous enough to keep from falling prone and sliding downhill?  That didn’t work well for several of the players.

Everyone moved into the room, and Shari had an idea.  She was going to slide down the slippery floor to the center and start working her way up the other side.

Two things happened that screwed the party with this.

First, Shari slid into the 15-ft deep laser zone which triggered the lasers going off and blasting everything within a 5-square area of Shari with laser beams.  Several players made their saves, but people got hammered.

Then, since Shari was going to start her turn in the laser trigger area, she was going to continue to harm everyone nearby.  Well, to be fair, she wasn’t going to harm everyone nearby.  Her inability to roll a decent d20 roll to get out of the slippery area was going to do that.

The battle went on.  The hoops fired guns.  The robots flew around and fired rockets, and shocked the players.  One by one, the players went down.

Then one of the players had a moment of inspiration.  I don’t remember if it was Collin, Eric or Sue, but it definitely wan’t Mike / Sarah.  At least I hope it wasn’t Mike / Sarah.

One of the players had the ability to dominate creatures, and managed to convince one of the robots that the robot should go to the console and turn off the laser beams.  Great idea.

Then Mike / Sarah decided to kill one of the robots.  They chose the one with the pretty grey / purple swirly dice on it as a marker.  It happened to be the one that was dominated to try to turn off the lasers at the console.  Oops.

That was when things really started going bad.  The party had a chance at this point.  They were getting soaked, but except for Brian, no one was dead dead.  Over the next few rounds, Sue went through the laser zone, and managed to get across without killing herself, but some of the players, and some of the bad guys.  She went up to try to work on the console, and didn’t make good science rolls.  It was kind of sad.  Really, I want the adventures to be hard for the party, but not TPK’s.

In the end, things got worse and worse.  It was down to an attrition war, but the party kept hitting the center zone, triggering the lasers.  Too many party members were within the 5 squares of the trigger area of the lasers, so they kept getting hammered.

It also didn’t help Eric out, when I counted from the trigger zone out, and figured that Eric was outside of the five square area, then Collin, just to be fair, counted the squares in a different way, and found that Eric was fully inside the five square area.  To be fair, that was Collin’s doing, not the DM’s doing.

Then one of the party decided to use their Omega power, and pull the remaining robot into the laser zone.  Not sure why.  When the robot was pulled by Sue, she got an attack of opportunity, which hit, but then the robot went into the laser zone and did more nasty damage to everyone when the lasers shot at everything in the room.  The lasers really sucked corndogs for the party.  After all, you aren’t “dead dead” until you have been reduced to negative bloodied hit points.

In essence, you may start out with 40 HP, and your bloodied value is half that, 20 HP.  You go unconscious if you are reduced to 0 or fewer HP, but you are still “alive”.  You don’t die die until you go to -20 HP in this example.

Your mileage may vary, depending on your total HP.

Because the damn lasers kept going off, the characters under 0 hit points who were laying around hoping to come back and be revived, were killed dead dead.

It was really a TPK.  No resurrection allowed.

In the end, the hoops killed off Sue before she could activate the console to turn off the lasers.  Then the two surviving hoops went all stormtrooper on Collin, the last “surviving” member of the party.  Collin was holding out on the entry platform of the adventure, trying to figure out how to get across and save the day.  The hoops were terrible shots, but they eventually plinked him down.

It was horrible, but fun.  People laughed, carried on, and made very inappropriate comments.

Next week, we get to play Dungeon Fantasy, powered by GURPS, with Mike running the game.  He may regret that.

Mike is having us play the pregens in the box.  I selected a female half ogre.  The female half ogre has a base INT of 9.  I asked Mike if I could lower that to 7, since it is a half ogre barbarian, who will probably be modeled after Rick Perry or maybe Michelle Bachman.  I mean, if I model her after Michelle Bachman, I can say things like:

  • “I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
  • “Our movement at its core is an intellectual movement.”
    • Which I would probably change to:
    • “Our bowel movement at its core is an intellectual movement.”
  • “Why should I go and do something like that? But the Lord says, ‘Be submissive wives; you are to be submissive to your husbands.”
  • “If we took away the minimum wage — if conceivably it was gone — we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”
  • “I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?”
  • “I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another, then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”
  • “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.”
  • “I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”
  • “But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States. … I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbearers who worked tirelessly — men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”
  • “I was very proud of the fact that I didn’t get anything wrong that I said during the course of the debates.”

I mean, with gold like this, I can have some serious fun.  And most importantly of all, no one can accuse me of playing the character so stupidly that it is unrealistic.

I remember when I was a kid, Boris S Wort was on the J P Patches show.

BORISWORTSMLE

Boris was a mean, bad guy.  He did horrible things to J P like steal his Esmeralda doll, and slam J P into the door.

Being a kid who grew up in Seattle in the 1970’s, I loved the J P Patches show.

Anyhow, Boris S Wort was the second worst man in the world.  This is because he realized that someone was always trying to be the 1st meanest man in the world.  Boris was happy being the 2nd meanest man in the world, since no one wanted to compete to be the 2nd meanest man, and all of the competition was to be the actual meanest man in the world.

Then there is one of my absolute favorite musicians, John Doe, from X and other bands, singing about the actual meanest man in the world.

So what does all of this have to do with being a half ogre barbarian?

Well, I don’t have to play her as the dumbest moron in the world.  Given what Michelle Bachman, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Pat Robertson and a whole host of others say regularly, I can play her as about the 1,000’s dumbest morons in the world.  There is so much competition for dragging the lowest of the low, and worst of the worst, and evidently the dumbest of the dumb, I can safely play her at least a standard deviation above the lowest point, and still appear to be suitably low IQ.

Gamma World, 7th Edition, Episode 04

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We played yesterday again some more Gamma World.  The players continued on with the ongoing adventure of trying to figure out why robots were being produced that would come down to the walls of the village and explode, or try to shot a rocket at the village wall, then explode.

Sara, Mike and Sue’s daughter came by to give this game a shot.  Maybe she was placating her parents.  Maybe she was desperate for some human interaction after her long stint in Inbredland.  I am not sure.  When I teased her that she was “from Inbredland”, she became very defensive, giving mixed messages.  Her face was full of rage and hatred, due to the comment, but her hands were telling me I was number one.  There is something going on in that family, with needing to reinforce other people by telling them that they are number one.  By chance, I pull up Facebook this morning, and find that I posted a picture of Mike last year to the day where he was telling me that I was number one.

Mike

So given this start of the Blog, I am going to discuss some things that happened in the last week.  I had a kind of a shitty week.  I am going to spend some time venting.

I play Pathfinder on Thursdays.  The DM, Daron is a pretty good DM, however, he wants to run a linear campaign, and doesn’t deal well with someone thinking off his rails.  If your character doesn’t fall in line with his linear campaign, bad things happen, or ridiculous things happen.

The fish bone lock story is an example.  The first few sessions of that game were a railroad.  We had to follow his railroad, so that we could get from where we started to where he wanted us to end up.  As a group of first level characters, we were captured and put into a boat to be sold into a life of slavery.  Now we got our asses handed to us in the combat.  That makes sense.  If a group of slavers were going to capture a half dozen first level characters, they wouldn’t throw a few goblins at us.  We went against a much more capable group of bad guys and were captured.  Well, knocked unconscious and then captured and put into cells in a slaving ship.  While on the ship, sailing to who knows where, I found a fish bone.  My character was a rogue.  I tried to use the fish bone to pick the lock on the cell.  I rolled a natural 20, and had a +10 on my lockpick skills, but a -2 because of improvised tools.  So on a normal lock, I rolled an effective 28, but Daron decided that the DC on the check was 30.  Now, my guess at the time was that he didn’t want to deal with a character exploring the ship, so he just raised the DC too high for me to achieve.  Meh.  It would have been a more satisfying substory if he would have allowed me to make the check, explore the bowels of the ship then get discovered, clonked on the head and put back into the cell, tied up, gagged etc.

This has been a pretty consistent thing.  My characters in the campaign are not built for combat.  They are built to be interesting to play.  My current character is a gnome witch with an attitude (me, playing a character with attitude?)  The gnome witch is not built to buff the party.  He is a necromancer, neutral evil, and debuffs the enemy.

During one of the first combats with the gnome witch, I was debuffing the enemy such that Daron wasn’t getting the combat advantages he wanted as the DM.    I wasn’t doing any damage, but I was causing his characters to roll at disadvantage (roll 2 d20’s and take the lower result of the two), or lowering their AC, or lowering their to hit scores through using hexes.  Daron was getting really frustrated.  He decided to take as many of the bad guys as he needed to knock me out of combat.  Other player characters were doing damage, I was simply making it easier for the PC’s to do that damage.  I could tell that he was getting frustrated, because the fight was not going the way that he wanted it to.

A few weeks ago, we have a combat where we are fighting against a group of bad guys, and the prime bad guy doesn’t take any damage at all from my fifth level spell, nor my fourth level spell.  However, when the Paladin moves in, the Paladin manages to kill her quickly.

Much of the role play is centered around intrigue for two or three of the players, with little for the rest of the party to be involved in.  There is little or no intrigue for the monk, fighter, witch etc.  This means during the sessions with intrigue, I can spend my time on the ship working on alchemy and rolling an occasional D20 to see if I can make some sort of finding for something, or be involved with the intrigue which is not centered or involved at all with the present character that I am playing.  This means that if I want to be any part of the intrigue, I need to sit around while Daron interacts with the wizard or the paladin.  This gets pretty boring.  As a player (and as a player with ADHD), and as a character with a witch who is a gnome and neutral evil, I start looking for something to do that I find interesting.  That frustrates Daron as the DM.  I can tell.  It is not that I don’t care, he is biasing the adventure towards a couple of the players, and that gets old pretty fast.  Especially when a player like me wants to do something other than just sit around while the intrigue plays out for most of an entire session.

Now, I am ok with role playing, but the role playing needs to involve the entire party, not just a couple of the members of the party.  I am also OK with an entire session of combat, but when the DM has shown that when you piss him off because you are doing something he doesn’t have the ability to deal with (debuffing his characters, as opposed to buffing your party), and when the opposing force is stupidly overpowered, waiting for one particular player to do something to resolve the combat, this can get boring for the players who are not anointed.

At one point in the adventure, we were attacked by people with guns, and they did some serious damage to us.    I secured a gun from one of the dead bad guys, and took it to an armorer, to see if he could replicate them, and spend a lot of gold with the armorer.  The local government came and confiscated the gun.  Now technically, the local government didn’t “confiscate” the gun.  They demanded that I turn it over, with no recompense.  I objected.  We fought for the guns, we took serious damage from the guys using the guns, and the government just wanted me to turn them over.  I said no, so Daron had the government take the gun from the armorer, effectively stealing it from the party.  He said that the government didn’t want us to have the type of power associated with the gun.

Last week, we had a mystery of some missing magical armor in a museum.  Daron likes antimagic fields.  He uses them somewhat regularly.  They are powerful, and in some cases can cover miles across.

In last week’s session, we were stumped trying to figure out what had to be done.  I think that Daron wanted the party to gain an understanding over time of what happened.  We hung around the museum, until someone realized that the armor was gone, then the keeper of the museum got all bothered because nothing like that had ever happened.  The gnome was bored.  I was bored.  So I started poking at the museum keeper.  After all, what is a gnome witch to do, when standing around in an antimagic field?  I start lipping off at the guards, who are not doing a good job.  At one point, one of the characters rolls an insanely high roll on perception, and notices something odd about the wall where the armor used to be.  So I go over and start stabbing the wall with my dagger, looking for a hidden passage.  Am I successful, no, I don’t find a hidden passage.  Then I start using gunpowder on the wall to see if I could explode the wall to get more clues.

Once again, intrigue, involving two players, everyone else sitting around twiddling their thumbs.  Daron decided that I was going to be hauled off by two guards.  They gave me a choice, but I didn’t make it any easier for the guards.  As I was being hauled off by the two guards, I exited the antimagic field with them, and then I used cause moderate wounds on the guy who was holding my hands.  He dropped me, and suddenly there were three guards.  I backed away, and put up my fourth level spell, wall of Blindness / Deafness around the three attackers.  As long as they didn’t move through the wall, they would be OK,  If they moved through the wall to attack me, they would become permanently blind.  I then turned and walked towards the museum.  It would last about 9 rounds.  That would let me get away, and nothing bad should have happened to the bad guys.  I told Daron that.

Now Daron rolled to see if the guys would become damaged by the wall, and two failed, meaning that they would be permanently blinded when they walked through the wall.  Seeing that the *armored* guards (yes, that is important here) were going to be permanently blinded, he decided to have all of them blast me with scorching ray for a bucket full of d6 damage.  So two things are out of sorts here.  First, after rolling the save and failing two of the three saves, Daron decided that if the characters were to walk through the all of blindness / deafness, two characters would be permanently blinded, so he decided not to walk through the wall, then used magic spells on armored characters.  There was no roll for spell failure, he just hammered me with the spells.  Now this is pretty much bullshit.

So I hit the three bad guys in the area with my fifth level spell, suffocation.  Now suffocation only affects one character, not three, but I figured that if Daron was going to cheat, I was going to respond in kind.  When the DM throws the rules out because the rules are inconvenient, then the rules go out for the players also.  Besides, two of his characters rolled for permanent blindness, which would have removed them from the combat, or at least seriously lowered their ability to work.

The blinded character has the following attributes:

Blinded

The creature cannot see. It takes a –2 penalty to Armor Class, loses its Dexterity bonus to AC (if any), and takes a –4 penalty on most Strength– and Dexterity-based skill checks and on opposed Perception skill checks. All checks and activities that rely on vision (such as reading and Perception checks based on sight) automatically fail. All opponents are considered to have total concealment (50% miss chance) against the blinded character. Blind creatures must make a DC 10 Acrobatics skill check to move faster than half speed. Creatures that fail this check fall prone. Characters who remain blinded for a long time grow accustomed to these drawbacks and can overcome some of them.

So Daron has to make fortitude checks on both the suffocation and stepping through the wall of blindness / deafness.  I am watching his die rolls.  I watched them on the first roll he mad against becoming blinded, when he realized two characters would be blinded, he rolled some 12’s and a 17.  So whatever the fort bonus was for the three guards, a roll of 12 did not make it.  Then he rolls to save against suffocation and rolls against the fort checks twice, and magically, I mean supermagically, all three characters make their rolls, while rolling 10’s, 12’s and some 15’s.  Wow!  I mean totally fucking amazing!  There is some serious cheating going on here.  Sorry, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, it isn’t cheating.  After all, he only:

  • Decided upon an action – to move through the wall of deafness / blindness, made rolls, and upon realizing that he would have had something bad happen changed his decision, and then used magic
  • Used magic with armored characters, without making any sort of failure roll for wearing armor while casting magic
  • When I questioned this, he clearly said that the guards were magic users, not that the guards were using some form of ring or amulet.
  • After failing the check, he rerolled the checks, and rolled just as badly as the first checks, which would have failed the check again, but somehow the fort saves were better the second time he rolled poorly on the failed check.

This is because the DM doesn’t want to deal with a character doing something different than the script calls for.

Then, they step through and all hit me with their swords.  My AC isn’t very high and I accept that I can be hit pretty easilly, but all three hit (which isn’t too hard), and proceed to kill me using adamantium swords, which cut through my 5 DR on all of my amulet.

Uh huh.  Right.  Guards, are multiclassed, fighter and magic user.  They are able to use armor and magic.  They are able to cast magic while wearing armor.  They have variable fortitude saves.  Two guards magically become three when combat ensues.  And normal guards carry adamantine swords.

I call bullshit on this.

Now the guards performed a coupe de grace on me and threw the body into the water.  I was resurrected by the party, and lost 4 strength permanently.

The key here is what Daron told me while I was being resurrected.  I heard a voice say “you need to stop doing this”

Doing this?  what is “this?”  I should stop being bored because the DM wants to roll us down a railroaded path, and then use intrigue for two of the six or eight people sitting around the table, while the other five or six people just sit on our thumbs for one or more hours during the session?  Really?

So because I am not involved in the intrigue for an hour or more, possibly the entire session, I should just sit back and let stuff happen around me?  Really, I should “stop doing this?”  Doing what?  Trying to become engaged in the adventure?  Trying to find some way to have some fun, while the DM and one or two players are having extended interactions with nothing else going on for the rest of the party?

Mumph, grumble.

And then yesterday, during our weekly Gamma World session, Brian didn’t like one of the results of his combat decision.  He decided to use his toxic spores on two of the robots that were attacking him.  He made his roll, and determined his hit, and damage.  Then I asked what type of damage the spores were.  The robots are immune to poison, after all.  This had been discovered earlier in the same game session by another player.  We looked through the book, and determined that toxic spores were poison damage, so the robots took no damage.

Brian said “well, if I had known that, I wouldn’t have done that… I am going to do this instead”.  I respond something to the effect of “no, you made your call, you rolled your dice, and it had no effect, there is no do over”.  Brian was upset at me for this, and started arguing.  I interrupted him, and “you are an experienced player, you don’t get a do over, if you were a new player I probably would allow it, but you have been playing RPG’s for decades.”

Brian was not happy.  He didn’t argue the point too much more, but he was unhappy.  I need to explain some things here.  I have been playing with Brian for several years.  In the past, he has gotten very upset when I called something against what he wanted to do.  We were playing Call of Cthulhu several years ago, and he was trying to do something.  If I remember right, a large 2X4 was animated by a ethereal being and was whacking the shit out of everyone on the room.   He wanted to grab the 2X4, and nail it to the wall.   I figured that you had to make three successive rolls to control it  These would be:

  • Grab the 2X4
  • Wrestle it to the wall
  • Nail it into the wall

Brian was able to grab the 2X4, and thought he was done.  I told him that over the next few rounds, he would need to make two more successful checks to control it, and nail it to the wall.

Something happened in Brian’s mind, where he got very upset, and he packed up and walked out.  I didn’t see him for several weeks, and ran into him at a convention.  When I ran into him at a convention, he pulled me aside, and said that he wouldn’t be playing with me any more.  I asked why, and he told me that I was too nitpicky, and he didn’t want to play in my games because of the way I DM’d.  OK, I can accept that.

After a year or so, Brian came back, and started playing again.

Brian continued to play over the last few years, but he doesn’t like it when I miss something and then try to come back to it.  Brian can get very vocal.  I have tried to explain to him that when you are a player, you are focused on your character.  When you are the DM, you are focused on everything.  And it is very complicated as you are being shotgunned questions and providing answers, while keeping things straight.  There are times that you miss stuff, and realize a few seconds later that you should have had one more attack, or the damage should be different, or the result of the lock pick would have been…

Being a DM is exhausting.  I love doing it, but what I object to is having someone get butt hurt because the DM figures out something slightly after their turn, and tries to rectify it.  Usually, I will lump it into the next turn around, but sometimes it is important to rectify it at that time.  Brian can get very vocal when I try to do this.  I am not cheating, just realizing that with all of the things going on, sometimes something important has to happen, which may ultimately hurt, or benefit the party.

I have a challenge for any player who wants to complain about a DM.  You should try it.  It is a lot of work.  It can also be a lot of fun.  If you complain to me about what I am doing, I will ask you to DM.  I like to play also.

Now, I did DM the Thursday games for a while.  We played Call of Cthulhu for about 3 months.  I think people had fun, but it was not the same game as Pathfinder.  I get the feeling that most of the people on Thursday like a more high fantasy game than something like Call of Cthulhu.

I will admit it, I am sensitive to criticism.  I have spent my working career in a position where I have to be polite and professional, while people accuse me of murdering their children, and in all too many cases, people try to shift or transfer the guilt that they feel for causing a fatal accident onto me.  It wears on me.  Molly has had to learn over the years how to interact with me, since I am very quick to go into professional mode, and shut down emotionally when she doesn’t say things the “right way”.  25 years of dealing with extremely angry people has caused me to have a very thick shell which I can turn on in a drop of a hat.

I was in Safeway on Friday, and saw a person I dealt with about 12 years ago.  He recognized me and wanted to tell me what he knew.  12 years ago, he was angry because he wanted speed bumps on his road.  I met him in front of his house, and he proceeded to berate me, call me names, told me that I would be responsible for the deaths of his children, since they could not play in the street safely.  I told him what we could and could not do.  He was a nasty piece of work.

Flash forward about 5 years, and I was coaching a Lego Robotics league, and he brought his son to the league.  He didn’t remember me, but I remembered him.  He was an engineer, I was an engineer… both of our kids were in Lego Robotics, he wanted to get to know me, and be friends.  I finally looked him in the eye and recounted the experience we had five years prior, and told him that I was on my own time, and I chose who I wanted to interact with on my time.  He had shown me that he had no respect for me, and I would be polite and professional with him, but no, I did not want to spend time with him because of how he treated me five years prior.

He was shocked.  I don’t think that he had ever had anyone tell him something like that.  I have seen him around the neighborhood several times since then.  I have seen him at public meetings.  He is always polite, but seeing him draws up a bile and feeling of dread.  I am polite in return, but that is as far as it goes.  He probably is a really nice person, who was frightened for the safety of his family.  In my mind, when you step over a line and try to transfer responsibility for the safety of your family, or accuse someone else of being responsible for acts that haven’t occurred or accuse me of murdering your children, or deciding you know more than I do about how things work, I don’t need to be around you.

This is complicated for me, since I run into people who I deal with at meetings regularly.  I live and work in the same community.  Most people don’t cross the line where they are so nasty that I decide that I won’t deal with them at all outside the work environment.  Also, people who I game with know what I do, so they do ask me questions about what is going on.  For the most part, I am OK with talking about what is going on, as long as no one starts telling me that I am wrong, tries to transfer guilt or responsibility onto me, or starts telling me that they know more about what I do than I do.  I am actually OK with dealing with upset people even on my own time, as long as they don’t cross those lines.

In my job, I spend a lot of time dealing with angry people.  Some are scared, some are angry, some are really angry.  I am pretty good at dealing with them.  I can usually defuse the situation and get them from anger to having  a more productive conversation.  One of the best pieces of advice I have been given in my career was from the City Engineer from Issaquah.  I went from consulting to working as their traffic engineer, and found that I was getting bogged down trying to solve people’s problems.  The City Engineer told me “your job as a government employee is not to solve people’s problems.  Your job is to make people feel that their concern has been heard”.

Just because I am good at dealing with angry people doesn’t mean that I like it, or that it hasn’t taken a toll on me.  In a professional environment, I can deal with it, but on my own time, I have no desire to deal with it.  When I have a player get angry during the game, I usually let it go for a while, but at some point, I have had enough.

So what does all of this have to with gaming?  Not much, but also a lot.

I had a crummy week at work.  Not horrible, but it has been ebbing and flowing, and is currently more ebbing with angry people.  After 25 years of being chewed on, it becomes hard to not let it get to you.  When I go to have some fun on Saturday, and I get an interaction like I had with Brian, that puts a large blot on the fun for the day.

It is funny.  I can take shit from Sue and Mike, all flipping middle fingers at me.  Most of the time, I can take whatever people flip at me.  I know none of it is personal.  but sometimes, I get frustrated.  I think it is because of the history of Brian and his interactions over the years that I have less tolerance for when he and I both have a bad day.  I actually really like Brian.  He is interesting to talk with.  He is a lot of fun to sit and chat with about a lot of things.  But sometimes he gets but hurt about something, and his way of reacting gets me riled up.

I also really like Daron, and the entire group that we play with on Thursday’s.  Most of the time, we have a good adventure.  Sometimes, I feel left out.

It probably doesn’t help that I have had a crappy week.

So what happened in the Gamma World adventure?  Well, lots.

The party went through two more encounters.  They are getting more and more deadly.  The first encounter involved the party going into a room that was (Surprise!) a kill box.  They had to figure out what to to do.  The room had three glowing craters, complete with radiation, along with three crystal pillars, a console in the center of the room and a wire mesh on the floor around the console.  The party entered, and were met by four robots that were flying, and four Porkers.

The party took a while to figure out that they could use science checks on the console to open up the door to the next room. No one ended up dead dead.  Damage was given, bots were killed.  Porkers were killed.

The party rested for five minutes and went into the next room.  In here, they found a bunch of sentry bots and guard bots.  They also found two large machines which were humming.  The android and robotic characters found some pretty good vibes coming from the machines.  Eric wanted to kill one of the machines.

It turned out to be a slaughter.  Almost a TPK.  One by one, the party died.  It took them one turn to figure out that every turn, new robots may come into the scenario.  However, it took them a little while longer to figure out that they needed to turn off the three consoles that were potentially generating new robots.  Shari successfully turned off one console which reduced the number of irises that were generating robots, but she was killed before she could turn off another one.  Collin tried all sorts of fancy things, then ended up dead trying to turn off another console while being attacked by two bots.  Bill tried to convince the bots that he was a repairman, and only convinced one type of bot, while the other type of bot killed him.  Eric tried to kill the machines, which did not work.

In the end, everyone died but Brian.  Brian managed to move into a long hallway, so only one bot could attack him at a time, and with his armor and high AC, he was a good holdout.  More and more bots kept coming into the kill zone, but only one could attack at a time.

Odds are that eventually, Brian would have died.  He was going to run out of luck eventually, but we decided that if he played dead, the bots would go back to their stations, and then he could revive the party again.

Long story short, it was a successful time playing Gamma World.  I got to write about 4,500 words of blather about how I felt.  Things are good.

Gamma World, 7th Edition, Episode 03

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We gathered again yesterday at Dice Age to play some more Gamma World.  It was brutal.  It wasn’t a TPK, but there was a lot of player character death.  I am always wary of killing off player characters.  I want the players to have a good time, but at the same time, I want to make the players work, and realize that there are risks.

The game was a full house.  We had eight players, along with me.  Dice Age was packed also.  We had a completely new player from work, Teague.  Bill also showed up again.  With eight people plus me at the table, we had many parallel and crossing conversations going on.  Since Dice Age was packed, we had a lot of noise from people playing other games at nearby tables.  We didn’t have much time or ability to mess with Jirimiah, which was OK.  He was pretty busy with customers, so it was probably a good thing that we left him alone.

We played Gamma World again.  Mike showed up with his new Dungeon Fantasy powered by GURPS box.  I got mine earlier in the week.  It is a piece of awesome.  Mike is stoked.  both Mike and I emailed the same comment to Steve Jackson Games…  When will there be a Post Apocalyptic box set powered by GURPS?  We both know that there is already a lot of PA stuff for GURPS in the basic GURPS 4th Ed and 3rd Ed stuff.  However, the Dungeon Fantasy is already covered by a lot of stuff, like the basic set, and the expansion books for Fantasy, Magic, Thaumatology, Low Tech…  But having one concise set of books for Dungeon Fantasy is pretty sweet.

I am a horror fan in general.  The horror can range from anything from ghosts, zombies, vampires, space, genetics gone wrong, and just about anything between.  I prefer more thinking horror rather than splatter horror.  I prefer a little bit of jump scare, and leaving the movie thinking “damn, that is messed up.”

For example, one of the movies that I keep coming back to is The Rapture, starring Mimi Rodgers and David Duchovny.  The story is about a swinger who lives a life of hedonism until she discovers Christ and is saved.  However, due to a series of horrible events, she loses her faith.  In the end, the rapture occurs, and she must reaffirm her love for Christ, or be damned to hell.  OK, not ghosts, goblins, psychotic jump scare horror, but the movie was effective in making you sit there and think “damn, that is messed up”.  And for several days later, I was still thinking “damn, that is messed up”.

Another subtle horror movie that is a favorite of mine is Mister Frost, starring Jeff Goldblum.  In this movie, he is a murderer who is arrested and put into a psychiatric ward for murdering people and burying them in his back yard.  But he may be more than just a murderer.  There is this ongoing thing with baking and prepping fancy cakes and then throwing them out that adds an odd touch to the mystery of the movie.  There is no gore.  It is all psychological.  But creepy at the same time.

Now, with all of that, I also truly enjoy a good straight up horror film.  I will watch every movie in the Underworld series.  I will also watch most any zombie move or TV show made.  Molly likes vampire stuff.  She doesn’t like the zombie stuff.  She dislikes the zombie movies for the same reasons that I like the zombie movies.

In a vampire movie, there is one protagonist.  Maybe a coven of protagonists.  And there usually is no overt breakdown of society.  In general, the vampires try to hide their depraved acts from the overall society, since their weakness would be if people got smart and started hunting them effectively.  While a vampire is strong, it still can be defeated.

Zombies on the other hand, represent the complete breakdown of society.  There are multiple threats in the complete breakdown of society.  The first one is the overt threat of the horde of zombies coming for you.  The other threats include what the human race will do to each other to try to survive.  Then there is the issue of quickly dwindling resources.  Where are you going to find food, water, ammunition, medical supplies, fuel…?

This triple threat is fascinating to me.  Not fascinating to me in the way that I want to live it, but fascinating to me in a clinical way.  In some ways the zombie threat is almost a lens at looking at ethnic cleansing in certain parts of Africa, or the Balkans.

I believe that the primary reason why we are “nice” to each other is because we have a rule of law that keeps enough people from stealing, murdering or other horrible acts on each other.  The reason for this is that the results of getting caught are worse than what their position would be if they keep in line.  Religion adds to that.  Do what the Good Book says, or you will be banished to an eternity of pain and suffering.  Some people do bad things regardless of the consequences.  They are driven by madness, hate, intolerance, or a lack of general empathy.  I believe that most people are generally weak, and all need some form of crutch to do the right thing.  I am not excluding myself from this list.  Most people have one or more of the following that they use as a crutch to do the right thing…. religion, drugs, fear of what happens if they don’t do the right thing (go to jail instead of living their lives)… the list goes on and on.

People have some level of empathy, but many people are weak, and given the right conditions, such as basic survival, or being brainwashed into thinking that all of their problems are created by person of <X skin color, X religion, X ethnic background, X belief system>, they can compartmentalize them as undesirable to their own self.

So where am I going with all of this?  I don’t really know.  I am just typing out what I am thinking at the time.  That is what a blog is for, isn’t it?

So I love zombie shows and movies.  I started watching Z Nation last week on Netflix.  Molly is not impressed.  I like it.  It has the right combination of desperation, snark and gore to appeal to me.  It deals with the issue of lack of equipment via a deas ex machina method.  Oh, the truck ran out of fuel, we walk until we find another vehicle just before the zombie horde comes…  In one episode, they were in a town in the mid west when a zombie horde came through.  The people ended up hiding in a mortuary, in the corpse refrigerators while the horde passed.

I also appreciate that most of the show was filmed in the Spokane area, and they try to pass the terrain in Spokane off as though it is upstate New York, or the midwest.  Ok, maybe that isn’t a real selling point, but I still enjoy that aspect.

So far, Z Nation is holding my interest.  Many times, a show like that holds my interest for a while, then I get tired of it.  I followed Walking Dead for about 4 seasons, then got tired of it.  It is a good show, but I realized that they were just building up in each episode to the uber gore scene.  Then, there was the gratuitous zombie kill scene, or every fourth episode, one of the main characters would get glicked.  I read the comics for about 7 years.  Then I got tired of it too.

This probably is due to my ADHD.  I just get bored, and need something new.  Even if I am enjoying the show, I move on.  For instance, I really like some of the Netflix shows from the Marvel universe.  Luke Cage is pretty awesome, so is Daredevil.  I was able to get through about a half dozen episodes of Daredevil (which is so much better than the movie), and even got to the point where Vincent D’Onofrio was introduced as Wilson Fisk (Kingpin), and went AWESOME!.  Then, I stopped watching it.  I love Vincent D’Onofrio.  I love Kingpin.  The show is really good.  I just lost interest.

I initially watched about 4 episodes of Luke Cage, and really liked it.  Then… I stopped watching it.  It was really good.  I just lost interest.  The characters are compelling, the plot is good.  The show is edited well.  I just stopped wanting to watch it.

It is kind of odd.  I can read an 800 page book, and stay engaged in it.  I can read a series of books, and stay engaged.  But when I watch something on the TV, I get bored.  It may be that when I watch things on TV, I am consuming another person’s vision of what the world is, what the actors look like, how they sound…  When I read a book, I am allowed to use my own imagination to fill in the voices, background, colors…  Reading a book is not a passive thing for me.  I am actively engaged in the story (assuming the story is halfway good).  That is the same thing for roleplaying games for me.  The book, or module provides some portion of the story, and I need to fill in the rest of the world with my imagination, and that is done as part of a combined storytelling effort with friends at a table.  This is probably why I don’t care for video games.  The same reason as I get bored with TV and movies.  My mind is consuming, as opposed to being creative.  Well, video games are also a problem for me because my hand to eye coordination sucks.  I mean really sucks.  Really really really sucks.

So what does all of this have to do with zombies or post apocalyptic role playing games?  Not much.  I was writing the blog for a while this morning while Molly and Kitty were asleep.  Just me and the dogs.  Gavin was working.  Then Molly came in about four or five paragraphs back and we chatted for about an hour.  Then Kitty came in and added to the conversation while the dogs were lounging.  My mind was in a different place after the conversation than before…  hence, the blog blather changed.

So I was talking about zombies.  I am fascinated by the possibility of total societal breakdown.  I have been fascinated by the concept of anarchy since I first heard about the concept.  Not that I want to live in a broken society, in a state of anarchy.  I happen to really like the fact that my house has power, which allows me to have hot coffee (with the grounds purchased from Safeway), and the heat and AC work, along with the Internet where I can purchase books on Amazon, along with knowing that my Kia Soul has a full gas tank, and I can drive around town without having someone attack me.

With all of that, the concept of anarchy is clinically fascinating to me.  Once again, I am not interested in living in a state of anarchy.  The possibility of the human condition existing in a state of anarchy creates many possible futures.  These could be after the bomb, a zombie apocalypse, a Red Dawn situation where Cuba attacks Spokane, or some other thing where our world is consumed by chaos.

I spent six years as a nuclear, biological, chemical warfare expert in the Army.  I learned about how things worked when you did nasty things to people.  I also grew up during the cold war.  The possibility of a nuclear attack was very real.  Still is.  We are now in a time when the Russians have lost track of their fissionable material, rogue groups are trying to do horrible things to each other, and the leaders of North Korea are rattling sabers with the rest of the world, and specifically the USA.  The possibility of a dirty bomb or an actual fissionable device blowing up via shipborne or airborne attack is very real.  It doesn’t help that the current US President is acting like a petulant fool, and is willing to play double dog dare with North Korea.  This is like a sick version of sticking a tongue on the frozen flag pole from a Christmas Story.

The sad thing is that this is funny when the kid is sticking his tongue to the frozen pole, but it is not funny at all when we have two highly immature world leaders who are calling each other names on the world stage.  I mean really, what the hell good can come from President Trump calling Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man”.  What possible good can come from that?

Will North Korea be able to nuke enough of the US to destroy us?  Probably not.  They could do something like a targeted shot against a western port, like Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco.  They could also release an EMP pulse which could do huge damage to the electronic and electrical infrastructure.  We retaliate, as President Trump has said we would to “destroy North Korea”

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Which he stated in his UN Speech last week…  So where does this all get us?  Closer to anarchy.  It could be through nuclear combat.  It could be through more people emboldened by a president who has little diplomatic skills, with the emboldened people thinking that they should show off their Nazi beliefs…

I long for a time when Yoda sat with King Faisal as the king signed documents entering Saudi Arabia into the UN Charter.  We need more times of contemplation and deep thought that will help us use clearer heads.

First Phase Digital

I don’t think that this is too much to ask for.

It is certainly better than when Darth Vader worked with the British and French governments in 1919 to divide up the Ottoman Empire to create the current day middle east countries via the Sykes–Picot Agreement.  We all know how that ended up.

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So, you say… “Rob, we have suffered through almost 2,500 words of blather, and still know nothing about what happened in yesterday’s game.”

Well, that is not completely true.  I did mention at the beginning that to loosely quote Julius Caesar, “Venimus, vidimus, et mortuus est” which means “we came, we saw we died”  This is not as good as the term “Veni, Vidi Velcro”, which loosely translated means “we came, we saw, we stuck around.”

Last week, it was more like “Sanctus cacas nos nimis eruditionis habes” which translates to the English equivalent of “Holy shit, we are fucked”

Now, you ask, do I know Latin?  No.  But I do love the movie Life of Brian, and I found an English to Latin translator on google.

I barely speak English competently.

So the players met, all eight of them, plus me.  We sat around a table and started in the first kill box.  This encounter involved moving down the steps from the last encounter, and attacking several badders.  They found the same type of sniper badders as the last game, and they found a new type of badder, this one can hit them with a psychic wave of damage.  They also found that the overall dungeon was crowded, and difficult to get around.

Shari helped out by triggering her ability to cause radiation damage to any character within 3 squares of her… but that was problematic since she placed herself in a place which was very hard to get around that space and still attack the bad guys.  The cluttered area was good for the bad guys, since they were already set up.  Shari made it challenging.

The party came rolling into the first room, and were able to do some damage, however, the new type of badders released several psychic blasts which really hurt the players.  Teague went down.  Hard.  Her character was the first to go down.  Dead dead.  Not an auspicious way to get back into roleplaying games.  Die in the first few minutes of the encounter.

The combat was horrible and nasty.  In the end, Teague, Sue and Shari all died.  The male players all lived.  I am not sure what to read into this, as I was trying to randomize who would attack whom.  The problem for the players was that the psychic blast badders would recharge their psychic blast if they rolled a 5 or 6 on their turn, and they kept rolling 5’s and 6’s.

In the end, to be fair, I asked Sue if the badders should be mean or not.  She would roll a dice and say “evens mean, odds not mean”.  If the evens came up on the die roll, then they would pop off their psychic blast if they could, and most of the time they would.  Now, I didn’t tell Sue what to do to make them mean.  After all, Sue could have said “mean only if I roll a 1 on a d20”, but she rolled the d6 for evens / odds.

The party did figure out how to stop the carnage.  This is where the roleplaying comes in. Someone, I think it was Bill decided to try to use his power to stun the badders in one group, then have the m fight each other instead of the party.  This worked well.  Then the party tried another RP, where they gave temporary amnesia to two of the nasty badders with the psy attack and then convinced the remaining badders to leave.  They did.  The party lost three characters before they figured out to do this.

The living party members rested for five minutes while Sue, Teague and Shari picked out new characters, rolled for equipment, and we started the second encounter.

This one seemed to go pretty well.  The chamber included glowing blue moss all over the place, along with a spiraling pit path leading down to a lower level. There were two dog sized moths (not moth sided dogs) flying around in the room along with three blood red birds.  The dog sized moths looked like this:

Blaash gamma world moth

This went poorly for the party also.  They thought it was going to be a cakewalk, until the moth hit the party with radiation burns from the eyes.  The attack was pretty nasty.  The other thing that surprised the party was that with the Yexil, it could do some nasty radiation damage with its eyes, but that was a one-shot, and the Yexil couldn’t to it a second time.

The moth, AKA Blaash, could use their radiation eyes over and over again.  The birds also were nasty.  If they pecked at you with their beaks they did  both physical damage, and they also burned you with radiation if you started your turn next to their square.

The party ended up killing off most of these critters, and were feeling pretty confident, until the reinforcements arrived.  Two psychic badders, and two normal badders.  These guys did some real damage to the party, killing off several members including Bill, Eric and Shari.

Brian bravely moved to a spot far away from the party and the bad guys and proceeded to attack from the far side of the cavern.  Teague tried to fly to the last remaining moth to kill it, and was hurt pretty badly.

Mike survived because I forgot to pop off a dying strike from one of the badders.  If that had occurred, Mike’s Verminator would have been killed too.

All in all, everyone had fun.  Even in death, the party enjoyed itself.  At least, they made eye contact with the game master, and said “we will be back for more next week”, except Teague, who said something like “I may be back next week… ”

 

 

Gamma World, 7th Edition, Episode 02

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We met yesterday to continue on with our Gamma World adventures.  Everyone had a good time.  Monsters died, characters died.  Everyone laughed, no one got bent out of shape.  We annoyed the people at the table next to us who were trying to have a serious Warhammer game.  It may have been 40K, or some other bucket of d6 die rolling game.  In general, it was a really good time where we laughed, kibittzed, and tried as hard as possible to annoy Jirimiah.

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Shari did not make it, however Collin was fresh back from the Portland Comicon, and Brian also showed up.  Things were interesting to say the least.  I explained that everyone needed to keep in mind that this was a game where the players were to be in a kill box, and fight their way out.  The only real “role playing” in the game was how their unique combination of character attributes gave them advantages in their combat.  My job as the game master was to slaughter the players.  Their job as the players was to kill the bad guys before they got slaughtered.  In this way, Gamma World is much more like Descent 2nd Ed, Mansions of Madness or other tactical role playing games than a standard RPG like (normal) D&D, Mathfinder, GURPS etc.

Starting point

We played the same two adventures as last week.  This was to get the players more aligned with the specific game play.

I also went to Guardian Games and bought some more used components.  This ended up as a purchase of about $40, to get the complete base game along with a complete set of both expansions.  This gave me all of the cards, pogs, maps, and some extra books.  Having the extra books helped, since we now had three base books for the table, along with two copies of each expansion book for the table.  I could keep one of each of the books, and the table players could share the others.  It also all fits nicely into the base box.

The first scenario involved a kill box, where the players were trying to get to the door of the building.  Immediately upon entering the map, they were pelted with arrows from three giant bipedal badgers (with crossbows) and two Porkers, the Gamma World version of Orks.  The Porkers have a nice little special attack, where they can belch a horrific cloud of noxious gas.  If the player’s character doesn’t make a fortitude saving throw, then they take damage, and are stunned from the horrific stench.  This helped with character builds which had amazingly high armor classes, or armor which made them almost untouchable.  The character builds, and the monsters for that matter, always have one very high attribute (like Armor Class, or Fortitude, or Willpower…) and the rest are usually more reasonable.  Some characters may also have damage resistance to some types of attacks.  This means that even if you can’t whack at it with a sword and do damage, you can likely pierce them with arrows

For example, Mike’s character was a robotic rat swarm, the Verminator.

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His character started out with a 5 damage resistance to melee attacks.  This meant from the start of the game, anytime a monster hit him with a sword, club, fist, etc, they may hit, but the character could “absorb” the first five hit points of damage without doing any real damage to the character.  He drew a card which gave him an additional 10 damage resistance to melee attacks, which meant that there was no way that any monster hitting him with melee could do any damage at all to his swarm of rats.

This worked out in his favor just “to be fair”, so that when he was fighting a monster that could hit him with a flail or step back and hit him with a bow, the badger was dumb enough that he would hit the rat swarm with a flail or club instead of stepping back and using a ranged weapon.  It made sense and “to be fair”, that the monster would try to hit the swarm of rats with a bludgeoning weapon instead of a ranged weapon.

I have talked about the Alpha and Omega cards a few times.  These cards may not make sense to someone who has not played the game.

Here are some of the rules from the core book about the Alpha mutation cards:

From the Core Book Pg.66:

“All D&D Gamma World heroes have access to wild, unpredictable abilities known as Alpha powers. IN effect, you’re able to manifest special powers by drawing on alternate world lines in which you naturally possess them. Some heroes do this through exercises of logic and concentration. Others do it by intuition or feel, or even by accident. A moment of panic or rage trips a switch and suddenly, you’re not exactly the person you used to be.

Alpha Mutations are derived from three distinct sources of energy: bio, dark and psi.

Bio Energy: You alter your physical nature, possibly activating pieces of junk DNA or making all your mitochondria do something new and different.
Dark Energy: Dark energy is a force that pervades every bit of matter in the universe. You can unlock it and shape it into usable forms.
Psi Energy: You focus your mind to do impossible things.”

At the beginning of each session, you’ll draw an Alpha Mutation power card from my deck (until anyone gets cards and puts their own together). As you level up you will draw two and eventually three cards.

Keep the cards readied next to your character sheet.

While it’s out, you gain any effect listed on the card’s Benefit section. If the card has a power listed on it and you choose to use it, you do so and then turn the card (tap it) to indicate that you have used the power.

At the end of an encounter you will discard all of your Alpha Mutation cards and draw new cards to replace them.

Alpha Flux: Whenever you roll a 1 on a d20 die during an encounter, you’re hero experiences a fluctuation of possible worldliness and must discard one of their Alpha Mutation cards, either tapped or untapped. You may then draw a new Alpha Mutation card that comes in untapped and ready to go.

From the core book Pg.67:

“Overcharging Alpha Powers:

When an Alpha power has an overcharge entry, you can try to boost its effectiveness at the risk of the power going awry. The overcharge entry indicates when you can overcharge; unless otherwise stated on the card, overcharging an Alpha power is a free action you can declare at the indicated time. You can overcharge a power only once. To overcharge, roll a d20. The Alpha Mutation card indicates the effect that occurs as a result of the d20 roll. Usually, a result of 10 or higher is a successful overcharge (and an increased effect), and a result of 9 or lower incurs a penalty or condition that is applied to you. If you attempt to overcharge an attack power and fail, the power still works normally, and then you suffer the negative effect. Your origin might give you a bonus to overcharge certain Alpha powers.”

In essence, the Alpha cards are mutations, which allow for you to do something weird, and fun in the game.  It may be good for you, but it may also be bad for you.  Here is an Alpha mutation card as an example.

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This seems a little innocuous.  However, if the player were to use this and overcharge it and roll a 9 or less (a 45% chance of occurring), you may bring a storm of robots from lower levels of the dungeon right onto you, when you are still a lower level.

That isn’t the best example of an Alpha (mutation) card.  It could be used in role play within an encounter, but it isn’t particularly clear how it would benefit the combat in the game.

Here is another example of an Alpha (mutation) card that is more descriptive of something useful.

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That may help a lot in a combat situation.  The Alpha and Omega cards are always a one-shot card.  You use it, you tap it (it is a WOTC game, so we can say “tap” as opposed to some other word which is not copy written or legally protected in some way).

Notice that you can overcharge the mutation card.  This adds some flavor and some chance.  A -5 penalty to the saving throw is pretty cool, and may be very useful, but… there is a 45% chance of rolling a 9 or less, which could mess things up badly.

Here is another useful Alpha (mutation) card that is pretty straight forward.

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Once again, you have some good stuff, and possibly some bad stuff that will happen with this card.

Here are some of the rules from the core book about the Omega cards:

 

From the Core Book Pg.68:
Over the course of your explorations in Gamma Terra, you frequently acquire artifacts of advanced technology. Omega Tech represents exotic super-science devices that litter the irradiated wastelands of Gamma Terra. While thousands of varieties of Omega Tech items exist, most fall into one of three broad origins:

Area 52: And you thought Area 51 was secret! Area 52 tech is derived from the Greys – extraterrestrials who mastered dark energy millennia ago.
Ishtar: The Empire of Ishtar is a highly advanced human civilization that arose in a number of worldlikes. The Ishtarans sent spies, advisors, and even armies of conquerors to many of the alternate Earths. Their technology is photonic in nature.
Xi: Xi tech is the product of machine intelligence and is built on nanotech and neural interfaces. Like the Ishtarans, machine civilizations are common in many worldlines. (It’s pronounced Zee, by the way.)”

Omega Tech cards work much like Alpha Mutation cards, but you get them as loot and roll to see if you can keep them running after you use them.

The Omega cards are superweapons or something that may be specifically useful in game play.  Sometimes it isn’t particularly obvious about how to use it.  Sometimes, you look at it and go “aha!”.  Here are some examples of the Omega cards:

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Armor is always good.

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Hmmm.  being able to see in the dark or through things may be helpful, but not as helpful as something that will kill stuff.  However, this may also be very helpful in the game, depending on the player, the scenario and any number of other random things.

Now the following is more like it.  Something that kicks butt.

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The key with the Omega cards is that they are only guaranteed to exist for the specific encounter that you are in.  At the end of each encounter, you roll a D20, and on a 10 or more, the device survives with a charge.  If you roll a 9 or less (45% chance), the device loses it charge, and is useless for the remainder of the game.  If you roll consistently lucky, you may have two, three or four (maybe more) Omega items.

As you increase in levels, you also start each encounter with two, or three randomly drawn mutations.  When you roll a 1, you chose the mutation that you will replace with a new mutation.  This allows the characters to become more powerful over time.

There are a lot of cards for Gamma World.  The base set has 120 cards.  The booster packs have another 160 cards.  There are also some special cards you could have gotten from special events or other ways.  All in all, there are about 300 cards available, which I believe break out to about 40% omega cards, and about 60% alpha cards.  I did a quick search on the Interwebs, and this seemed about right.

If you want more accuracy, please do some research on that yourself, and add the correct answer in the comments section.

I am an engineer.  We are not trained to be “accurate”  We calculate a reasonable value, then add a factor of safety to help insure that what we design doesn’t fall down.  If you want accuracy, go ask a pure scientist, like a physicist, or a mathematician.  I spent about 5 minutes looking online, and added up the 120 unique cards in the base box, plus the 160 unique cards in the booster packs, and I knew that there were about 15 or so special cards.. which added up to about 295 (120+160+15=295), then I rounded up to “about 300”

Now since there is only one significant digit in 300 (3X10^2 yields one significant digit), the accuracy in that “about 300” can have a wide variance and still be considered accurate.  This means that the estimate would still be somewhat “accurate” if there were between 201 and 399 cards.

If I had said there were “about 310″ cards, then there would be two significant digits (3.1X10^2”) which would mean that I would need to be within 9 cards to be “somewhat accurate” as opposed to being within 99 cards to be somewhat accurate.

If I had said that there were “about 301” cards then I would need to be highly accurate, as there are 3 significant digits, 3.01X10^2, which means that if I was off by more than about 9/10ths of a card, I would be inaccurate.

Hence, I said “about 300” cards.  This means that with the extremely poor quality control of my interwebs search, I am still sufficiently accurate to make the point.

If I were a mathematician, or a physicist, this would not do.  This type of precision would be unconscionable.

I have a similar conversation with my wife regularly.  She asks “what time is it?”.  I reply “it is about 4:10 PM”, knowing that it is actually 4:07 PM.  She looks at her phone, and says, “not it is not, it is 4:07 PM”  Since I told her the time to 2 significant digits, it is close enough, when she wants 3 significant digits.  The argument of significant digits is not relevant to her.  Being “about 4:10” when it is actually 4:07 is confusing to her.  Her need for level of accuracy is greater than my need for accuracy.

If my explanation of significant digits is not detailed enough for you, or if you differ with my recollection of significant digits then remember, I am an engineer, and we like to say “close enough when you add the factor of safety”.  In our case, we can calculate that with the factor of safety the pipe needs to be 5.2 inches in diameter.  But we can only order the pipe in 5 inch diameter, or 6 inch diameter, guess what, we go with the standard off the shelf 6-inch diameter pipe instead of asking the manufacturer to retool their entire production line to create the 5.2 inch diameter pipe.

Also, remember that I graduated from college “about 20” years ago.  Note that this means that I graduated sometime between 11 and 29 years ago, still accurately described.  I could also say that I graduated “about 30” years ago, which with one significant digit, would mean that I graduated between 21 and 39 years ago.

My recollection of the significant digits concept may not be completely accurate.  I can tell you that my recollection is actually “about 100%” accurate, since that is only one significant digit.  My accuracy would be true, even if the true value of my accuracy was really only 21% correct in interpretation of the concept, since I am still accurate to within 1 significant digit.

You see, it is tricks of math that got President Trump elected by the Electoral College, even though he lost the popular vote.  You knew it all along, math is truly evil.

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So “what happened yesterday?” you ask.

Well, lots of bad stuff.

The party spent about an hour going through the books to get their perfect character, or to modify the pregens that I created.  Then we started the adventure.

So what happened…  It was all a big blur.  The party moved into the kill box in the first encounter, and were hacked a lot from the two Porkers and the three Badders.  The party ended up killing off all of the bad guys.

Here are some images of the bad guys that the players had fun with:

Porkers:

gw-porker

You can see the badders hiding behind the porker, here is another picture of a badder for some more detail:

Badder

The highlights included the Porkers belching on several party members, Sue snaring almost the entire party in a toxic radioactive web (well she also snared the bad guys), Brian having a ridiculous Armor Class, Mike getting pushed off a cliff, then he wasn’t, Collin trying desperately not to be killed and Eric changing from one mini to another while making dick jokes.

The party survived the first encounter.  Several of them managed to keep their Omega weapons to the 2nd encounter, which was good for them.

This adventure included badders, along with a new friendly monster, the Yexil

Yexil

The second encounter was tougher.  There were two badders on ledges and a yexil on a roost at the back of the room.  In front of the door was a 10-ft X 10-ft patch of grass, which no one wanted to step in for some reason.  There was also a well, a stairway down, along with two columns.  On the left side of the room was a door, which had several more badders sleeping inside a dormitory.  These three badders were reinforcements.

The party waltzed in and did some pretty heinous damage to one of the badders.  However, the badders and the Yexil got some good damage in.

Brian probably saved the day.  He used his uber weapon on the Yexil, and phased it out of this dimension for 1d6 rounds while doing some pretty amazing damage to the critter.  Unfortunately for the party, Brian rolled a 1 on his 1d6, which meant that the Yexil came back one round after the megadamage was done, and the Yexil was pissed.  Really pissed.  Brian wasn’t worried, since he had a massive armor class.  He didn’t realize that the Yexil attacked with a wing bash, and that was against fortitude, not AC.  Brian was knocked down a couple of times, but the biting attack by the Yexil wasn’t high enough to get through Brian’s AC.  That is good.  Since if you are prone and the Yexil attacks, the Yexil gets to do lots of extra damage.  Lots of extra damage.

Badders hit the party with arrows, and then maces.  Sue, once again netted the entire party in a toxic web.  Sue also died.  Dead dead.  She was knocked to less than her constitution and became a slick gooey spot on the floor of the dungeon.

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OK, Sue was an arachnid, not a cockroach, but she was using a plastic cockroach as her mini.

Collin’s character was killed, but really only knocking it to less than 0 hit points, but more than minus bloodied hitpoints.

In Gamma World, you are incapacitated if you go to less than 0 hitpoints.  You”die” if you go to less than the negative value of your bloodied hitpoint value.  In other words, if you have 20 hitpoints, you are bloodied if you drop to 1/2 or less (rounded down) of your hitpoints (10 in this case).  You are dead if you are knocked to the negative value of your bloodied hitpoint value (-10 hitpoints in this case).

This is different than other games, where you are dead dead if you go to less than negative constitution (if you con is 16, and you are dropped below -16, you would be dead dead, needing resurrection or some other major thing).

When you are negative hitpoints, but not negative more than your negative bloodied value, you still need to make death saving throws.  Collin was on the countdown, missing two saving throws…  Luckily, the combat ended right as he was at his final saving throw, and Mike rushed over with his mechanical rat swarm and saved him.

I talked earlier about how Mike did, with his uber damage reduction.

Eric killed lots of stuff.  He also was pivotal in getting into flanking position, to help kill several of the Badders and the Yexil.

Overall, it was a lot of fun, and everyone wants to continue playing the game.

That is a good result.  Everyone has fun.

Gamma World, 7th Edition, Episode 01

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So one of my main problems in running games is that I have a short attention span.  I have serious ADHD, and have had it all my life.  I should have been on Ritalin when I was a kid, in the 1970’s.  My mother chose not to medicate me.  She had several friends who had kids who were medicated for ADHD, or simply being “hyperactive”, and when her friends kids were taken off the high doses of Ritalin that they were given, several of them switched to drinking large amounts of alcohol or other drugs.

I don’t know what the facts really were, but this was my mother’s concern, so she decided that I would not take medication to affect my ADHD.  I am not being critical, but the lack of medication during grade school, middle school and high school was problematic for me at best.  I am not complaining.  It all worked out for me.

The long and the short of it is that I can only stay focused on a project for so long.  My brain goes left, right, center, up and down all the time.  I have learned how to live with this, and most people don’t realize that I am bouncing all over the place.

I am a civil engineer.  I spent several years working as a road designer, and found that coming to work at 8 AM and grinding on a problem all day, until 5 PM was torture.  Somewhere along the line, I got into traffic operations, and it was perfect for me.  I didn’t need to focus on anything for more than 5 minutes, because the job requires a lot of fast decisions.  This is perfect for whatever is going on in my brain.  It isn’t that I am a genius, but since my brain whirls around, and the job requires me to whirl around making decisions, everything syncs up well.

What does that have to do with RPG’s?  Well, a lot for me.  When I start running an RPG, I get bored if we keep constantly leveling up from first level to the 20th level over a long series of 4 hour sessions.  After 4 or 5 sessions with one game system, I get bored with it, and need to change stuff up.  That is why I drag the RPG group through all sorts of different game systems.

I am not bored with the story line.  I am not bored with the specific game play.  I am not bored with the RPG system.  None of that.  I just need to swap stuff out to keep my mind active.  I am OK with coming back to a story line.  That is one of the reasons why I started writing this blog.

I probably need a forum to spew off about nazi’s, build a bear Spock dolls and the pure evil of marshmallow based treats.  The blog allows me to do that also.

But the primary reason why I started writing the blog is to keep story line placeholders for the gaming group.  What did we do last fall on the Savage Worlds game where we were all in the Zombie Apocalypse.  I fully intend to roll back on that story line.  But there are so many shiny objects out there.

I have two six foot tall bookshelves full of RPG books. Just RPG books.  I will never play all of them, but what I have found in the gaming world is that if you see something that is interesting, it will probably be gone unless you snatch it up.

Now that doesn’t fit for every game.  After all, you can get the D&D 5th Edition books from WOTC no matter what.  Or, the Mathfinder books from Paizo.  But, there are third party books that are awesome that come and go.  For instance, how long will the 6th Edition Runequest books be available?  Now 6th Edition Runequest was a pretty OK system, not fantastic.  Nowhere near as good as 2nd Edition Runequest.  But the thing about 6th Edition Runequest was that they broke out of Glorthana, and put Runequest in another world.  They also added a lot of details to the runes, and cults, compared to the in-print stuff for other Runequest settings.  Also, they created a book called Mythic Britain, which provided for some amazing background on druids and other ancient information that could be used in other games.

Same with World of Darkness.  I probably won’t run WOD.  I like the multi D10 system.  I like the concept of the storytelling system.  What I don’t care for is the layer of lore that you have to slavishly keep to when running the game.  OK, some gaming groups may not need that layer of lore, but when I have tried to run it, if you try to bootstrap the concept of a vampire kingdom to something other than the lore, someone gets pissy about it.  After all, they want to play a specific subcharacter type of vampire that is deep into the intrigue of the factional lore blah blah blah.  This is where the ADHD stuff comes in.  The WOD lore is amazing.  But it is so dense and complex that I would have to study this exclusively to the detriment to all of the other things I am interested in to be competent at the game.

When I ran Middle Earth Role Playing when I was younger, I needed to be deep into the lore for that game.  That wasn’t so bad.  I needed to know how things related.  But in that case, I was already reading every Tolkien book I could find.  I understood the basis of the world because I had been consuming the lore since I was about 7 years old, and read the Hobbit.

There seems to be about 1,000 WOD books, and they are divided up into werewolves, vampires, mages, psi’s, and maybe even Brony’s.  There are different editions, and subeditions.  I don’t have the time to become competent at the world.

But.

I can take the WOD books that I have, and weave ideas from the detailed world that is in those books into other campaigns.  I need some form of background information about a vampire lord in a D&D game, or a Savage Worlds setting…  WOD lore yields amazing background to weave into the other games.

I have a few of the books.  Since I don’t play the game, I don’t want to purchase the books as new books, or pay top dollar for used books at Powells or Guardian Games in Portland.  I do however, keep an eye out for them at swapmeets or where someone is getting rid of their “unused” stuff, and occasionally get them for a couple of dollars for a used book.  I also keep an eye out for what is running in the current Bundle of Holding.  Sometimes, BoH will sell a bunch of PDF books for $20 or so.

Where was I?  Let’s see, I had the obligatory reference to nazi’s, marshmallows and build a bear Spock dolls.

Oh yes, what were we playing?

We played Gamma World, 7th Edition yesterday.

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Now there is not a lot of love for this game.  I originally skipped it, based on the reviews I saw online, saying that it was silly, wasn’t consistent with the feel of the older editions, and was 4th Edition D&D light.

I played Gamma World way back in the 1980’s.  I loved the game, but TSR never really figured out how to make it something beyond a niche game.  No matter which version you played, there were only a few modules available.  There wasn’t the depth of neat stuff from TSR that you got with D&D, or any of their other lines for that matter.  You could get more stuff for Boot Hill,  Top Secret, Star Frontiers, or even the Indiana Jones RPG.  Trust me, I bought that piece of crap… and bought a bunch of modules hoping at some point my investment in crap would pan out into something fun.  Nope.  As much as I loved the Indiana Jones world, the RPG sucked eggs.

The Indiana Jones crapsicle is really important to understand for me, as a high schooler looking for fun.  I purchased that piece of crap, and then followed the shit turd through the module series, while I was working part time earning minimum wage.  Between saving for college, having money to go on dates (yes, I was a gamer who was able to get dates in high school) and having snack money, when you purchased a piece of crap base game that cost the equivalent of a couple of night’s work at minimum wage, you wanted it to be pretty OK.  It didn’t need to be awesome, just pretty OK.  TSR hosed their customers pretty badly with this.  I was stupid enough that I hoped that it would get better if you kept going on with purchasing the content.

This pretty much summed up my mindset.  About the same time, I was reading “novels” in the Gor series by John Norman.  I had friends who read them and said “these books are awesome”.  I started reading them, and found them to be pretty crappy.  My friends kept telling me how awesome they were, so I consumed them, looking for some gem of a plot twist, or something that would make them worthwhile to read.  Eventually, I realized that they weren’t going to get better.  They were pretty crappy books.  Then the same friends told me “you need to read the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, those books are awesome!”  I tried those too.  They were nowhere near as bad as the Gor books, but they didn’t grab me.

I was happier reading books by Robert Heinlein, Ben Bova, PK Dick, Poul Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Stanislaw Lem, and others.  Good science fiction (hard SCIFI) was easier to come by than good swords and sorcery.  The science fiction seemed to deal with ethical and moral issues, where the swords and sorcery seemed to deal with how does the protagonist kill the bad guys, then bed the beautiful helpless large breasted female(s) that he rescues.

Now, this is a gross oversimplification  There was good swords and sorcery, and there was misogynistic science fiction.  But it seemed that I had found a core of authors in science fiction novels who were good storytellers, and it was a lot harder to find good storytellers with S&S novels.

What does this have to do with Gamma World, you ask.  Probably nothing, and possibly everything.

I had been burned by TSR a bunch of times.  Well, in all fairness, I have bought some crappy games from a bunch of companies over the years.  TSR did not have the corner on the market for selling expensive crap spewed out to unsuspecting yet naive consumers.

But I had been burned by TSR Stuff.  I loved the Gamma World stuff in the 1980’s.  But TSR only released a small amount of stuff for each version of the game.

WOTC also proudly explained that it was D&D Gamma World, based on 4th Edition D&D.  That made me hold off buying the game when it came out.  I loved Gamma World, but I had ran and played D&D 4th Edition.  Now I don’t hate 4th Edition D&D.  I don’t even dislike it too much.  But there are about a gazillion books for it, and the system is dead now.  I think that 4th Edition was killed because (a) it was overly complex, (b) WOTC made the mistake of thinking that they were going to make a killing by selling the books as PDF’s, and (c) the only way to really create a character was to pay $100 annually to WOTC to get access to their character generator software.

WOTC seemed to think that D&D 3 and 3.5 needed a facelift, so they remodded the game, to make it a tactical boardgame.  I bought several of the books, and ran it.  I also played it.  There wasn’t the love for the story.  It was essentially a very complex boardgame trying to emulate a first person shooter video game.  Now, I have other “RPG” games which do a very similar thing.  Descent, Imperial Assault, Mansions of Madness, Doom to name a few.  I love these games.  They are a lot of fun to play.  But the key difference is that when you play these games, you have a very simplified character sheet (as in it is already created for you), and you follow a small set of rules to understand how to work the dice mechanics along with the special cards you have for powers.

WOTC rolled this all up in D&D 4th Edition to allow for every possible combination of characters, and a very specific set of rules as to how you could get encounter based powers.  Most of the powers were once per encounter, some were once per day.  The encounter powers were very complex to understand, and the only effective way to play it was to have all three players handbooks, along with all of the Adventurer’s Vault books, the various Players Handbooks for specific races, and a lot of other books.  There were two problems with this approach.  The first one was that you had to have a bunch of books to be able to understand all of the bits and pieces necessary to create your complex character, and two you really needed to use the (expensive) WOTC online software to be able to build and manage you character.  WOTC sold the physical books, and also sold the books as PDF’s.  The PDF market is an interesting one.  Once you sell one PDF, they get onto several sites in other countries, and those sites allow you to obtain the PDF’s for no charge.  Also, one person in a group will buy the PDF, and then share it via Dropbox, One Drive or Google Docs to everyone they know.

This means that when you sell the physical book at $40, and try to sell the PDF for $20, you won’t get a lot of buyers.  Ideally, you would sell the PDF at a price point which will make people say “yeah, that is a good deal”, as opposed to saying “Wow, I can fill my gas tank for the same amount of money as that one PDF”.  I am a believer that selling the PDF at a deep discount will result in more income from sales than selling at a higher price, and hoping that people will be honest and buy them at a high price instead of pirating them.

It isn’t hard to find pirated PDF’s for free of most games online.  Google helps with that… a lot.

Besides that, 4th Edition D&D suffered because a better system rose out of he ashes of D&D 3.5, Mathfinder.  The Mathfinder system had much better support, was way better in game play, and Paizo allowed third party developers like Kobald Press, Frog God Games, Legendary Games and others plug into their basic system.

Meanwhile, WOTC kept a tight leash on their creative content with 4th Ed.

So where was I…

Ah yes, I was complaining about 4th Edition D&D.

Given my ambivalence with the 4th Edition rules, I decided to skip by Gamma World 7th Edition when it came out.  There weren’t a lot of other post apocalyptic games in the arena, but after reading the reviews, I decided to skip this one.

I shouldn’t have.  The game is a lot of fun.

Last Monday, Guardian Games had their big parking lot sale.  This is where they put out a bunch of stuff that isn’t moving on a huge sale, and allow people to bring in their own stuff and purchase a table, kind of like a huge swap meet.

I purchased the original Middle Earth Role Playing Game box set for $10.  Score!!!  I also got the original Elfquest game for $10.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Elfquest, but I played it, and enjoyed it a lot.  I also got an unpunched “Captains Edition” of Star Fleet Battles including a module for $10.  Another pretty nice score.  I got 10 Paladium RPG books for Robotech for $6 apiece.

The two things that I got that were WOTC related was I grabbed the 4th Edition DM Guide (the first of three DM guides, mind you).  It was $5.  I figured that was about what the DM guide was worth.

The score for me that I am blathering about in this post is the box from 7th Edition Gamma World for $5.

Now, looking in the box, there were two core books, and one book from each of the expansions in the box.  It was missing most of the pogs, and several of the maps.  I didn’t care about the pogs.  After all, I have lots of markers and counters which can be used.  There were 2 of the six maps which should have been included given the base books plus two expansions.  However, the books included detailed maps which I could transfer onto a large play mat for the tactical side of the game.

There were a lot of cards.  The two core boxes and the boosters that came in the boxes were all there.  Well, pretty much all there.  I went through the cards when I got it home, and found that a couple of the cards which should have been included with two cards only had one, but there were some special cards also.

All of the cards were in nice sleeves.  I figured if nothing else, I had about $15 worth of nice  card sleeves.

I also figured that if the game sucked eggs, there were a lot of good ideas in the game system and the published scenarios that I could incorporate into other games.

So I got the game home, and it sat on the shelf for several days.  I had minis to paint, I had other games I payed…  Then Friday afternoon, I got home from work, and took the dogs out side to water the back lawn, and I grabbed a soda and the core book, and sat down in the nice September evening and started reading the core book.   I was impressed.

WOTC took the basic game mechanics of 4th Edition and stripped it down so it was pretty easy to digest.  Your character was a mix of two things, like a rat swarm – cockroach, or a cockroach-android…  You could roll the two tributes randomly or select the two attributes.

Then the character rolled the stats, and adjusted them based on their character types, then selected one novice attribute from one of their character types, and did some more fiddly type things.

Instead of having the 4th Edition decision tree, where you had to figure out how to pull your character together, this was pretty tightly run.  Leveling up caused some pretty predictable things to happen.

None of this was well described.  I had to read the sections several times, and move back and forth in the rules book to pull it together, but that is pretty standard with gaming.  The rulebooks are written by goblins intending on providing just enough information so that you can each interpret the rules in a way that will lead to players screaming at each other with their passionate interpretations of the rules, hopefully resulting in a table flip by one of the less stable players.  If the goblins write the rules “correctly”, and the gaming session ends with people yelling at each other, and then a huge mess of books, pogs, dice and other detritus littering the room, then the goblins win their game.  They win more often than they should.

The game includes a fun mechanic, where you have a card that is your mutation, and another card which is your uber weapon.  You can use the mutation or uber weapon once per encounter.  Same as some of your abilities based on your character specifics.

If at any time you roll a natural 1 on a d20, your mutation automatically swaps out for a new random mutation.  There are specific situations, such as monsters with auras, or other game mechanics which can modify that natural 1 to something higher, like a natural 5 or less on the roll.  When the mutation swaps out, you get a new mutation, which is able to be used.  So if you use your mutation (which is usually pretty awesome), you tap the card (it is a WOTC game, so you can actually call it “tap” as opposed to whatever Fantasy Flight, or other gaming systems call it when you turn your card 90-degrees to show that the power has been consumed.

If you use your uber weapon during the session, then you roll your D20, and if you roll a 9 or less, then the uber weapon dies.  Rolling a 10 or higher means that the uber weapon still has a charge, so you can use the uber weapon in the next encounter.  Searching at the end of the encounter likely will give you a new uber weapon.  So you may have more than one uber weapon on subsequent encounters.

I am not doing the game system justice in this description.  After you get the swing of things, it is a pretty clean system that has some randomness build in that is actually pretty fun.

The character generation is pretty straightforward, but it is still a little hard to pull together for a bunch at a time.  I figured that if I was running this game for the first time, I would want to have some pregens ready for the players.  I found a pretty good character generator online at:

http://gmh.xocomp.net/GWCharacterGenerator/default.aspx

If you follow the process through, you end up getting a pretty PDF which has the character on it that you can play.  This simplifies the character generation, as it pretty much makes the entire character for you.  Here is an example of the character sheet generated by the webpage above:

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A few pointers about game play.  I kept a copy of the rule book, since I was running the game.  The other copy of the base rulebook was passed around between the four players.  We needed more rulebooks.  There is a lot of things where you need to check what a particular power does, or what a particular ability is, or weapons do.  One book per four players is not enough.  The book is available as a PDF on Drivethru RPG for a nominal cost.

So how was the play?

Brutal.

I mean it was a lot of fun with this group.  But it was a meat grinder.

It took a few tries to get it across to the party that this game was an encounter driven game.  The role play wasn’t really very heavy.  It was about getting into the combat and kicking some butt.

The other thing that everyone had to get used to was I draw the map, and the players start at the entry point, and we grind through the kill zone on initiative order.  And as the DM, I am trying to kill the party.

Now “killing” isn’t really “killing” except for when it is actually killing.

The mechanics of the game are set up like a video game.  You start out with a specific number of hitpoints, and when you are reduced to half the maximum level of hitpoints, you become “bloodied”.  Special stuff can happen when a monster or PC are bloodied.  More on that later.  When a PC or monster is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, it is knocked out, for the rest of the encounter, unless someone has healing powers.  Most of the PC’s have something called “second wind”, which allows them to regenerate half their hitpoints once per encounter as a “minor action”.

The players have three things that they can do.  They have one move action, one full action and one minor action.

Move action is moving up to their entire movement.  If the character has a movement of 5, that means that they can move up to 5 squares per move action (each square is five feet).  They can also run, where they add 2 extra squares, but they the character takes a penalty to a bunch of stuff until the beginning of the next round.

An action would be like an attack, or to interact with a computer console or the such.  Actions also include using their powers, or their mutation, or such thing.

A minor action would be to drop a weapon and pull out another one, or perform something that is listed as a “minor action”  Minor actions might include continuing to maintain something, or performing their second wind.

For example, Shari’s character had a mutation which allowed her to create a psychic wall that was 20-ft high, and 10 squares long.  she could essentially shape an impenetrable clear wall to help the party.  In the second encounter, she used this to box in a rather nasty critter who was half lion, half bat, with insect mandibles.  It was the boss monster that was really nasty, while the other minion human sized man-badger monsters would keep the party busy catching arrows and getting bonked on the head with flails.  As her action in one turn, she boxed in the lion/bat nasty with her psychic wall.  Luckily, the 20-ft tall wall went all the way to the ceiling of the room they were in.

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It looks like the big bat thing at the top of the picture.  And it can shoot laser beams out of its eyes.

Needless to say, the players have some resource management.  For example, the lion/bat thing can do some really major damage if it hits.  If the player expects that they will need to use their second wind as a minor action, they need to think about how best to do this.

So Shari put up the psy wall, which requires her to use a minor action to keep it up every turn after it is first put in place.  However, she doesn’t just get to keep it up for free.  She must roll a d20, and get at least a 10 on the roll to keep the wall up as a minor action.  In this case, the nasty was acting like a bad mime

The critter was really angry, at Shari.  He wanted to do some killing, and Shari was keeping him in a box.  Shari knew that she was down on hit points, and needed to use her second wind.  She decided to use her minor action to get her second wind.  Then we decided that we would allow the PC’s to substitute a minor action for a standard action, Shari rolled to try to keep the box (err, wall) up, and failed, rolling a 1 instead of the needed 9.  Immediately, the wall fails, and she gets a new mutation card, which she can use, however, since she substituted a standard action for a minor action, she was unable to fight, or use the new mutation card this round.  The nasty flew onto Shari, doing a combo attack of whipping his wings at her to damage her, then knock her prone, followed by another attack.  Between the two attacks, the monster did well over 35 hitpoints damage, which took Shari well below -10 hitpoints, so she died.  As in dead dead.

The arbitrary “dead” as opposed to “knocked out” is knocked out is when you reach 0 hit points.  Dead is when you reach negative hit points equal to your bloodied value.

The bloodied value is half your initial hit points.  When bloodied, some players and some monsters get additional attributes.

For example, in the first encounter we played, the party was up against two human size badgers and two porkers, essentially orcs.  The porkers had a once per encounter ability to belch a horrible belch which would cause hitpoint damage to the PC’s, along with stunning them.  When the porkers are bloodied, they can do this a second time, unless you kill them without them being able to reuse the ability.

We ran two encounters with the same characters.  The first encounter was pretty brutal.  No one died, but two characters did go below zero hitpoints.  The second encounter was a real meat grinder, which resulted in a total party kill.  It was brutal.

However, everyone seemed to enjoy the game, even with the TPK.

We will be playing this again!

 

 

 

Random ramblings from Georgia

I really don’t have anything game like to post to you I’m just sitting in a hotel room in Atlanta Georgia waiting until I can go to a conference tomorrow morning.

I got on an airplane this morning and flew from Portland to Atlanta Georgia. I flew on Delta Airlines, it was interesting because the travel agent for the federal  highway administration didn’t book me a seat. So I sat and waited because Delta overbooked the flight by three seats. They like to overbook flights in case somebody doesn’t show up so they can still fly with a full plane.

Delta ended up having three more people booked than seats availableand to offset that Delta had offered 3 people  each A $1500 Voucher that the people could redeem anytime in the next year. I was tempted but the next flight was the next day which was not going to work with my speaking engagement.

it was interesting because it started out with $100 voucher, and over the course of about an hour they ended up making it a $1500 voucher for each person. In the end I got on the plane, and I had a really crappy seat. I was jammed innext to a guy it’s seem to want to pretend that you didn’t speak English when I sat down or rather when I  motioned to him  that I was going to sit next to him near the window. He seem to be liking the double seat that he had the benefit of until I sat down.

I’m a pretty big guy, and I was trying to get to seat in the aisle, or the seat that is next to the emergency exit. Usually the seat near the emergency exit is a little wider, has a little more leg room, and usually there are only two seats in that particular aisle compared tothree seats that are in a normal aisle.

So what am I doing in Atlanta you ask?  It is work stuff. The Federal Highway administration likes some of the things that were doing where I work.   They have a big program called every day counts and they show off cutting edge technology that some agencies are doing that other agencies could also benefit from. We’re doing something called automated traffic signal performance measures. This is the big buzzword right now In traffic signals.

The stuff was research projects at universities 5 to 7 years ago, and we incorporated it into our signals three or four years ago.

It involves high-resolution data collection in the controller, where we log every single thing with the traffic signal controllers doing every 1/10 of one second. This allows us to go and do a lot of really high-resolution graphics to understand what the traffic is doing and be able to tell things like what what percent of the vehicles are arriving on the green as opposed to a red.  There are a bunch of other performance measures that are built into the data set.  We’re also doing Bluetooth tracking where we take a fragment of the MAC address of the Bluetooth device that has being voluntarily broadcast by peoples Bluetooth devices. When in promiscuous mode, but Bluetooth device provides this MAC address to anyone who’s listening.  We use a Bluetooth radio system to poll those broadcasts, then the system chops off the first five and the last digit of the MAC address, and applies it randomizer so that we’re not actually tracking any specific person instead we are tracking a fragment of data that has a timestamp on it. From that up we can track that fragment of data from one intersection to the next intersection and develop the travel time profile of the road. This allows us to make changes to the signal operations, and then determine if we made the travel times better or more consistent along a corridor.

There are a handful of public agencies around the country that are doing things like this. We’re kind of ahead of some of the others  because we have the systems in place along with the servers to be able to manage the data, and now are asking the question of what performance metric is appropriate for what location. We are also asking questions like what is normal how much data should we be looking at how do we make sure that what we’re seeing is normal as opposed to an anomaly.  We’ve kind of gone one step further  them the few agencies that I actually have these systems in place. Since were asking what should the performance metric be as opposed to how do we get performance metrics.

So two weeks ago the federal highway administration paid for me to go to San Francisco for a couple of days and talk to agencies and engineers who the traffic operations about what we’re doing. Now they’re paying me to go to Atlanta to do the same thing for Georgia DOT and Atlanta  DOT.

The whole idea here is how did you manage your traffic system in the most efficient way possible with the budget to you have.

This is all cool stuff. And I’m happy to help out

In other news we had an almost full eclipse yesterday. That was kind of cool. Vancouver had 99.4% eclipse I don’t know what the real technical term for it is, but we were not100%. Some of my coworkers went to Salem and watch the Full eclipse. Everyone was protecting terrible horrible traffic, but it ended up being not too bad from what I heard. There were some segments of interstate five and other roads that were pretty congested. President Trump showed that he doesn’t need special sunglasses to observe the eclipse, which of course got some people excited, and other people excited, for different reasons.

A bunch of us coworkers that were at work  did go out with special pinhole paper and the eclipse sunglasses, and were pretty wowed by what we saw. I have to say that even with 99.4% eclipse it was still quite bright out.  Ee watched the sun become consumed by the moon and once it is complete we all went back to work not really wanting to watch it go the other way. We were kind of done with going out and standing in looking at the sun.

Our dog Frida  has been wearing the cone of shame.

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She poked her eye on something. We think maybe she was trying to play with the cat and the cat didn’t want to play. So about $600 later, she is had become a shame for two weeks along with lots and lots of eyedrops .  She’s a sweet dog and she’s putting up with it all very well. The other two dogs don’t seem to care that she’s wearing the cone of shame. We’re looking forward to Frida making for recovery  and no longer having to wear the cone of shame.

I have been painting minis.  I got some Kromlech orks in greatcoats and Afrika Corps orks.

They are turning out nicely.  Here are some work in progress photos.

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Overall I’m pretty pleased with these. I still have some work to do on them and I need to base them.  I went through and assembled all of my minis that I have all the metal ones all the plastic ones all the resin ones, and made sure that they were all primed now I have a huge backlog of minis.

I have several more games coming that have more minis.  A group of friends decided to buy the whole box set of cool mini or not Rising Sun for me as thanks for running so many games for them. This is pretty awesome. Also I went in all the way for backing Zombicide Green Horde.

I know I can paint zombies. I need to really think about how to paint Japanese historical shogun And mythological type minis.

And with that I’m gonna sign off. It’s been a long day and it’s almost 10 o’clock here in Atlanta, which means I’m trying to go to sleep at 6 o’clock Pacific time. But I need to get up at 6 AM Eastern standard time tomorrow morning so that makes it 3 o’clock In the morning Pacific standard time.

Bleh