GURPS – Goblins Episode 02


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We all met at Dice Age Games again to play GURPS.  This is where we are taking GURPS, and playing with the GURPS Goblin build in a low fantasy Tech Level 3 world.  Essentially a medieval world.  Metagaming, we are actually on the Starship Warden from Metamorphosis Alpha.   The characters don’t know this.

So we all show up, and Brian comes for a first session.  Now I have joked before that Brian would play a My Little Pony game if it were based on GURPS.  Brian has not shown any interest in Ponyfinder (which is real).


Now, before anyone says anything nasty…  We all geek out in our own ways.  If someone wants to play My Little Pony Pathfinder or My Little Pony 5e, good for them.  It is not for me.  After all, One of the latest GURPS books that I bought includes a picture of aliens eating chocolate ice cream…. at least I hope that it is chocolate iced cream, and not two girls and a cup…


The point about Brian is that he is not a Brony.  Now, I don’t have anything against Brony’s.  They are probably all around us, living their lives just waiting until the end of their work day so they can go home to their natural habitat…


This is tongue in cheek of course.  I really stand by my statement that we all geek out in our own way.  I live my day waiting for the end of the work day so I can go home and spend time with my family, dogs, and hopefully spend time reading a good RPG book, or watch a cheesy movie.  This is really no different than people who want to get through their day so they can go hunting, fishing, camping, biking, work on their car, watch the big game, play video games…

We all geek out in our own way.

As far as bronys go, I think I am actually a true neutral on the chart below.  Probably in some way I am a semi brony.  Some part of me is fascinated by people who are really into things like this.  It doesn’t matter if they are brony’s, or furries, or whatever.


It isn’t a mocking type of fascination, but an appreciation type of fascination.  Most of my life has involved being deeply into things that were not mainstream, and not understanding why other people didn’t get into those things.

When I was in middle and high school, I was into gaming.  My group of cool friends (we were very cool, just not the type of cool that the jocks were) would play games that involved stats, depth of play, in depth knowledge of rules systems, and a lot of imagination.  We were “nerds” when being a nerd wasn’t cool.  I never understood why I was a geek and nerd, because I had all this unique knowledge, but the people who could spew baseball statistics or lifetime stats on a basketball player were cool.

I spent time in lookup tables looking at how to determine combat.


This ultimately helped me when I was in college as a engineering student (wow, another nerdly way of life) and I took classes like Thermodynamics.  While other people in the class were trying to figure out how to read this matrix, I was “Wow, this is just like D&D!”.  Now Thermo was a bitch.  It was a hard class.  But when I already knew how to read the steam tables, it meant that I could focus on other things that the professor was talking about.  Other students were lost in the steam tables, not understanding how to do the lookup, so they were a few steps behind the professor during a lot of the lectures.


Notice the similarity of the steam table to the D&D combat lookup table?  There really wasn’t a way for a book to describe how to perform a lookup on a table.  It was something you either got, or you struggled with.

My stint in the Army had me as another oddity.  A Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Warfare expert.  I was a true 54B as an NBC NCO type.  I wasn’t a 54C (smoke specialist).


AAAAANNNNNDDDD, another unique oddity.  The Chemical Corps had 20 or so soldiers in each AIT class and they ran a new class every two or three months or so.  I don’t know what they do now, 30 years later.  But at the time, it was a very unique world.  Nobody really knew what to do when you dropped a guy like me into a armored infantry company.

Then I went to college.  I studied engineering (eek, a geek!)  Then I got into the school of Civil Engineering at the UW.  There were 30,000 or so people on the UW campus.  I was part of a class of 40 students let in, in the Spring quarter.  In the Fall quarter, they let in another 60 students.  I specialized in transportation engineering, which was a small subset of all of the engineering students, which included structural, environmental, construction management, surveying, soils / foundations, transportation and other specialties in the Civil Engineering school.  I wanted to not only be a transportation engineer, I wanted to be a traffic engineer who worked on traffic signals.  We are talking about a subset of a subset of a specialization at that point.

So what does all of this have to do with being a brony, or maybe at least having some appreciation for bronies?  I have no interest in being a brony.  But in some way in my mind, I can appreciate what it is to be interested in something that is on the fringe of culture.  I won’t poke fun at them, since they are enjoying themselves and apparently not hurting anyone.

So when I look at a picture like this, and smile to myself, it isn’t mocking.  It is a smile knowing that this perso are trying to find some form of entertainment that appeals to him.  It isn’t for me, but then that is OK.


I have always had a love / hate relationship with my geekdom.  In middle and high school, I never understood why I didn’t fit in with the cool kids.  At some point, I grew up enough that I stopped caring, and didn’t need their approval.  It took a long time for me to come to that realization, that my friends who I geeked out with were awesome people and I didn’t need the approval of the popular people.

So what does this have to do with the GURPS game, not much.  Just trying to give the reader a view into my world.

We met at Dice Age, and Jerimiah was working.  Now Jerimiah is a Marine.  I never know what to call people who were in the Marines, and are currently not in the marines.  Jerimiah was in the Marines for something like 10 years, then he got out.  The Marines have the perspective that once you were in the Marines, you are always a Marine.  So I don’t know if I should call him a Marine, an Ex Marine, a retired Marine or what.  I have heard many Marines who are no longer in the service refer to themselves as “retired”, even though they didn’t finish the 20 years to actually get the retirement benefits.  Anyhow, that really doesn’t matter.  Jeremiah is a Marine.

I have known a lot of Marines over the years.  This is not meant as a slam against Marines, but Jeremiah is one of the smartest Marines I know.

Yeah, Yeah, the old joke about what does a Marine call a helicopter?  The joke teller then gets a dumb look on their face, points up and goes “uhhh uhhh uhhh”  Marines usually love that joke.  The only Marine that I ever knew that wanted to throw down on me when I told that joke was a guy I knew in college who joined the Marine Reserves, and went through Boot Camp and their advance infantry training, then went straight into the Marine Reserves.  I think he was the only reserve Marine who never actually activated to go to Desert Storm.  He had a major chip on his shoulder about being in the Reserves.

So anyhow the conversation shifted where Jeremiah heard us talking about something, and Jeremiah made a comment about how he didn’t think that the Marine Dress Blue uniform was a very good looking uniform.  Now this is shocking.  I have never heard a Marine say anything negative about the Marine dress blue uniform.  After having to wear the Army green leisure suit in all its polyester glory, I figured that anything was better.

So I mentioned that the Spanish Foreign Legion had the most amazing uniform ever.  Jeremiah had never seen that uniform.  So we started showing him pictures on our phones and iPads about these amazing uniforms.


Jeremiah’s first response was that it couldn’t be a military unit.  And this must be a joke.  We start showing him more photos, and Jeremiah was pretty stunned.


Now, I have to ask how a badass military unit has such interesting uniforms.  I don’t want to say anything negative.  But the colors are interesting.  I mean, I thought that the mean green Army dress leisure suit colors were awful.  Maybe I am color blind.  I wonder if there is something very specific about the genesis of the uniform.  Where there is symbology behind the color, the reason for the tight pants, the deep chest cut… you know, kind of like how the American Flag has 13 stripes for the 13 colonies, and 50 stars for the 50 states…

The most amazing part is watching them march.  These guys take marching to a level that is more amazing to watch than the North Korean Army does.

Now watching these guys march, they are marching while taking very small steps, very quickly with very large arm movements.  This is not normal human movement.  This would be very hard to do without a huge amount of training and practice.

And, they have a goat.


So you ask, what does this have to do with GURPS, goblins or the Startship Warden?  Nothing, and yet everything.

I started this blog post out, blathering on about all sorts of things.  and now that I have gotten the things at the top of my mind out of the way, I can focus on the GURPS session.

So Brian shows up, and he (oddly enough) wants to actually have a character who is capable of doing things.  The rest of the party is perfectly OK with just messing around.  While Brian may be willing to play My Little Pony GURPS, he wants to have his Pinkie Pie character be a true badass.


Now, Brian’s character is going to be a mage.  Go figure.  Brian likes playing Mages, Hucksters, spellcasters and other forms of badass dudes that throw death from a distance.  In this case, his character just hatched from the egg.

Brian asks if he can go and get the magic book from his car, since that book includes hundreds of additional spells over what is in the basic GURPS book.  I ask him how his character knows extra spells.  He says to me “but the magic book has hundreds of additional spells….”  He really wants to OP this character.  I ask him again “Your character just hatched from an egg.  How does he have knowledge for spells?”  Now, in a role playing game, I am willing to allow the players do whatever they want.  It is their game.  I will amp up the opposite side based on what they decide to do.  But, I want to know the thought process behind the player’s decisions.  After all, it is a role playing game.  I also explained to Brian that his character is in a low magic world, not a high magic world.  That didn’t matter, Brian knew what he wanted to play.

So the Queen wants more food.  She is upset because the chickens, ducks and geese didn’t last for long.  They lasted for less than one meal.  She was hungry.  And after all of that, she wanted some lovin’ from Collin’s goblin.

Now we made a lot of jokes at Collin’s expense.  Shari was OK with it.  We decided that Collin’s goblin was the sole royal servicer, and was likely the father of all of the rest of the goblins.  It was pretty damn immature, but it did make Collin spit his Squirt grapefruit soda all over at one point.  He seemed to enjoy the jokes about fisting the queen… followed by my question about the old story about the raccoon being caught with his paw in the cookie jar, the raccoon wasn’t smart enough to let go of the cookie to get away…  Like I said, it was pretty immature.  But it was also pretty damn funny.

Now this seems to follow much of our game.  We are laughing uproariously, giggling, saying things that are entirely inappropriate and generally having a good time.  This is literally in the middle of the game store.  I purposefully put myself so that my back is facing the other customers at other tables in the game store.  I might be embarrassed if I saw that they were paying attention.

Let’s see.  We also established the back story for Bill’s character.  He wanted to have the skill of being able to make animal sounds.  After some discussion back and forth, it was determined that Bill learned how to make animal sounds based on using a Mattel Hear and Say animal sound toy.


Just because I am that kind of guy, I want to ruin your childhood and show you a video from YouTube of how it works.

Now, when I was a kid, I found that if you smacked this on the ground, like really hard, it would skip the record, and the gorilla would sound like a zebra.  This falls into the idea that the impulsive goblins would not have great skills, well except for Brian who actually took the 20 points and made a real spellcaster out of it.

So the party leaves the cave, looking for more food for the queen.  I don’t remember the actual order that this happened in, but I am guessing a little here.  We got off onto a lot of  tangents yesterday.

We also discussed how some party members wanted to farm goats.  Evidently goats lay eggs, and the party is hoping to farm lots of goats.  They determined (given their crappy rolls) that the goat eggs were small pellets of soft brown earthy smelling material that the goats constantly expelled.  They need to figure out how to farm the goats and grow the goat eggs into something more useful, like a full grown goat or two.

The party goes on down the path and decides to go the other way from where they had gone the last week.  They left the goats in the cave system, intending to get them back later.  Now, I won’t go into detail about the comments regarding the goats, and their uses, but it was immature.  But then you probably already guessed that.

So the party goes to the west (they went east last week) on the path.  It takes them a while to get out of the burned area.  After a while they sense something in flying amongst the trees, nearby.


It is a human sized head, with enormous ears and a spine sticking down.  The creature dives, and the party goes to investigate.  As they approach, they see that this creature has attacked a deer, and the deer is down, meanwhile the creature has stuck the spine into the deer and appears to be sucking it dry.

What to do?  What to do?  Well attack of course.  I had set up an entire scenario around how this creature would help the goblins learn about their surroundings, and maybe help them define some missions.  Did that help?  Nope.  The party attacks.

This is where it is important to DM or GM this particular group.  Never plan too far in advance.  About 15 seconds is about right.

The party moves forward, and attacks.  The first few hits missed badly.  Then Shari’s goblin wanted to rip the deer away from the creature, and didn’t succeed.  The mage then casts sleep on the creature and does a very good roll.  So Brian’s character thinks that he has magical ability, but in reality, the creature had filled up on deer goo, and was having the monster equivalent of a carbohydrate nap.

Eric decided he wanted the ears of the critter.  He rushed up and tried to cut off one of the ears.  The monster woke up, blinked into invisibility and the goblins stood around trying to figure out what happened.  Then the mage felt something stab into his shoulder and start sucking the life out of him.  He took one strength point of damage, and one hit point of damage. No one could see anything, but the mage was making an awful racket.  So the party members decided to help the mage out, and try to knock this invisible attacker off his shoulder.  They were successful, but that didn’t stop them from continuing to try to hit the invisible creature off he mages shoulder.

Eventually, the creature moves off, invisibly.  Everyone looks at each other and decides to move on.  Mike stays slightly behind and notices a pool of brown goo.

Goblins being impulsive, Mike sticks his finger into the goo.  It jumps up and latches onto his hand and starts migrating up his arm, with Mike taking damage every round.


The party comes racing back, and proceeds to cut Mike’s right arm off, then cauterize the wound with fire.  This is where it gets interesting for Mike.  His goblin build is the ultimate Ninja goblin.  He wants to take the feat/skill where he can grab a sword between to hands.  He has a garrote.  With only one arm, he can’t do this.


This is a problem for Mike.  I asked him to look into the Goblin GURPS rules (yes, there is an entire book dedicated to this), to see if he could either regenerate, or do something with one leg /foot and one arm / hand.  Or possibly, he hops around on one arm upside down, and all of his attacks are dual kicking.

Eric is convinced that he can sew on a new arm.  Maybe something useful like a snake tail which could also act as a tentacle.

I commented that this may be something that could be like Bill the Galactic Hero.


At this point, Mike says that he would even be OK if he had a prosthesis (metagaming, as we are in the Starship Warden), in a future element which would work like the arm of Doctor Strangelove.  He then pantomimes the following scene.

Now, this got the attention of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is Jewish.  We then got derailed for about 20 minutes as we tried poorly to describe to Jeremiah Dr. Strangelove and Bill the Galactic Hero.  Now Jeremiah has no frame of reference for either.  But just about everyone told him that he needs to read the book for Bill, and watch the movie for Dr. Strangelove.

As you can see, the RPG’s on Saturday are pretty freeform.  It is a bunch of friends who get together and have a really good time, while sometimes rolling dice.

Later, the party continues on, and they are attacked by a snake.  It is a two hex critter, and it also has a human head.


I am probably the only one who saw Sarah Palin’s face on the Lamia snake body…

Sarah Palin on the attack

OK, that is a gotcha picture of Sarah.  It isn’t nice to only show a picture of her in a look where she is angry.  So I will give you this one.


That’s better, right?  Makes her look more trustworthy, right?  You would be surprised at the number of photos online that people have taken Sarah’s face and photoshopped it onto some porn actress’s body while she is in a XXX pose.

Anyhow, the snakeish thing attacked Collin, and started crushing him, then the Mage stepped in and cast a sleep spell on the snake.  It proceeded to fall asleep right away, then collapse on poor Collin.  They carefully moved people away from the snake and then went all stabby stabby on it.  They killed the snake, and proceeded to take it back to the goblin lair.

But there was a problem.  The goblin lair was destroyed.  The queen was dead.  Skewered by lances and spears.  The underground lake was poisoned.  All of the goblin eggs were destroyed.  Good thing for Brian’s character that he hatched before this happened.

All around the area were prints of human feet in boots and shoes along with dreaded horse prints.  The carefully constructed chicken coop that was camouflaging their entrance was destroyed.  All the careful work that the goblins took, all 2 minutes of it to properly hide the cave entrance after the fire burned all the trees and bushes didn’t help.

The worst thing was that the goats were gone.  The humans took the goats with them.

And that ended the session.

GURPS – Goblins Episode 01


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It was supposed to be a simple session.  But then, Collin, Shari, Sue, Mike, William and Eric.

I haven’t run GURPS for over 25 years.  Maybe closer to 30.  I played the original games from the Fantasy Trip in High School.  Might have also been middle school.  You know, the original…


and I also played the original Man to Man


I also played and ran some of the original third edition while I was in college.  Long story, short, I haven’t run GURPS in a very long time.  Probably since 1992 or 1993.  I have played a few games in the last few years, so the ideas are not completely rusty and full of cobwebs.

That being said, I volunteered to change up the weekly Saturday game to include goblins.  Now Goblins aren’t big damn heroes.  They are little damn scardeycats.

In most GURPS builds, you take a standard character and add modifiecations.

From Wikipedia:

Character points[edit]
A character in GURPS is built with character points. For a beginning character in an average power game, the 4th edition suggests 100–150 points to modify attribute stats, select advantages and disadvantages, and purchase levels in skills. Normal NPCs are built on 25–50 points. Full-fledged heroes usually have 150–250 points, while superheroes are commonly built with 400–800 points.[14] The highest point value recorded for a character in a GURPS sourcebook is 10,452 for the Harvester (p. 88) in GURPS Monsters.[15]

In principle, a Game Master can balance the power of foes to the abilities of the player characters by comparing their relative point values.

So normally, you come up with a character concept, and begin with a clean slate of absolutely average attribute values (10) for Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Health.  Everything in GURPS is based on d6 rolls, and when you make a basic roll like a test of strength, you roll 3d6, add the pips up on the dice and if you meet, or are under the target number, you succeed.  Anytime you roll a 3 or 4, it is an automatic success, if you roll a 17 or 18, it is a a failure.  There are other rules that add your skills, attributes, advantages and disadvantages which allow you to modify the rolls.  In general, the game follows a standard bell curve, which allows for more interesting results than a standard d20 game.

Screen shot 2010-12-31 at 20.59.17

The math guy in me likes the concept of a bell curve, instead of a standard d20 game.  If you have average scores (10) and you roll, you have about a 38 chance of being successful.  By, spending build points, you can increase that from 10 to 11, and have a 50% chance.  Spending more build points, you can increase from 11 to 12, and increase the chance to 74%, and so on.

The catch is that you only have so many build points.  You want to consider how the build points can be managed, and what disadvantages you are going to take to increase the build points to create the character.  You also can purchase skills and abilities and advantages to flesh out the character.

When you take disadvantages, you take on minor or possibly major disadvantages that will create interest in the character, but also give you extra build points.  There is a long list of disadvantages.  You could only have one hand, giving you 15 extra build points.  You could have one eye (also 15 extra build points), You could be lazy, lecherous, manic depressive, have greed or gluttony.  you get the idea.  In general, you are limited to about 1/3 of your total build points in the points of disadvantages you can take.  For instance, if you have a character with 150 build points, you can only take 50 points of disadvantages max.

So you ask, why would you want to take disadvantages?  Well, it is a role playing game, not a role playing game.  Games like GURPS, Deadlands, Savage Worlds are more focused on the role playing.  The dice aren’t as important… well, building a killing machine for a murder hobo band like in Pathfinder or D&D isn’t the goal for GURPS.  You can do it in GURPS, Deadlands and Savage Worlds.  But the intent is to allow the player the flexibility to create a custom character that allows them to role play that character.  You engineer a character for what the backstory is that you want to play.  In D&D and Pathfinder, you engineer a character by selecting the boons that make them more powerful as they get more levels.

In D&D and Pathfinder, you pick a class, and follow that class as it becomes more powerful.  In some cases, you can cross over and become a barbarian/rogue/cleric/ranger, and play that to your hearts content, within the confines of the rule set.

In games like GURPS, Savage Worlds and even BRP / Call of Cthulhu, you are more free to develop the definition of your character based on the specific attributes, free of the class structure that is in other games.  This is good, and it is bad.  It allows for a lot of freedom in character development, but it also allows the player to create a Swiss Army Knife character, one who does everything, but nothing well.  It is not good, it is not bad, it just requires that the player create a character concept, then use the rules to flesh out that character.

So, if you have a standard character with all 10 in stats:

ST 10

DX 10

IQ 10

HT 10

You can use 20 points to raise any of these basic stats by one point, or you can gain 20 points to lower any of the stats by 1 point.  So if you wanted to create a super dexterous person that wasn’t really smart or strong, you could change up the stats as follows:

ST 8

DX 13

IQ 9

HT 10

The total of the four basic stats still adds up to 40, and you haven’t spent any of your points nor taken any disadvantages.  The odds of doing something that involves a strength base trait go way down, to less than 16% on the 3d6 roll.  But, your odds of prevailing on a dexterity based trait go way up, to about 74%.  This may be important if you are going to be a lockpick thief.

It should be noted that the strength also translates into other characteristics, such as fatigue points, and how much lift capacity you have.  Everything in life involves trade offs.  GURPS captures this well.

Now, you can also spend points to improve stats.  it costs 20 points per digit increase.  If you increase stats, then you have fewer points to purchase advantages and skills.  Once again, there is the trade off thing.

So, if you want to be a lockpick thief, and you have a high dexterity, you also need some level of skills in lockpicking, along with tools.  The default for lockpicking is that you need to take your IQ, and subtract 5 from it.  So if you have average IQ, you can always try to pick a lock, but with an average IQ (10), you would pick the lock at 10-5 or 5 if you have no lockpicking skill.  In other words, you would roll 3d6, and try to get a 5 or less.  There are other modifiers, such as if you are working in the dark, by touch, you would reduce by another 5.  Equipment modifiers also are considered.  If you have improved equipment, you may reduce the target number by another 2 or 5, but if you have specifically good equipment, you may increase the target number by 2, 3 etc.  You would also modify it by looking at the tech level and adjusting it as appropriate.  For example, if we were in 2017 looking at Star Trek tech level, lockpicking would be harder. If in 2017 tech level we were looking at bronze age tech, it may be significantly easier.

So, lets say you want to be a lock pick thief.  You would purchase the lockpicking skill in character creation.  It is an “average” skill, so you would take the skill, and then use points to change your attribute level.  Taking the skill is immaterial.  You need to spend points in competency to get to the point where you can use it.

Yes, this sounds like a lot of fidgety math.  Go to page 354, look up table… ooh, I add 2.  Then go to page 153, look up table, ugh, I subtract 4… go to page 187, look up table, Yay, I get to add one…

After a while, the players get into the swing of things.  I think that Steve Jackson Games specifically created the system to insure that every player needed to purchase a bevy of books to be able to play the game.

Being the gamemaster is a little harder than the players.  The game master needs to pull all of this out for the wide variety of scenarios, opponents and situations… well, out of thin air.  I am familiar enough with the rules and concepts, that I guestimate much of what the NPC and other opposing rolls are going to be.  The goal isn’t to kill the players, well, maybe some of the players who you don’t want to come back…  But the goal is to keep the game rolling along, and make it at least feel like the players are being treated fairly.  If I spend all of my time flipping through books at the table, the players get bored. For me, the story and experience is more important than the rules.  As such, I have always kind of winged it in games, to keep the story going.  This makes rules lawyers angry.  I call it “rules light”.  I expect the players to know their characters, and know the rules for their characters, and I try to orchestrate the rest of the world to be as smoothly as possible.

So what does all of this have to do with goblins in GURPS.  Not much, I just wanted to lay out some of the rules concepts for GURPS.  This also helps me cement the basics of how things stitch together.  Writing stuff down helps me remember.

If you think that GURPS rules are complicated, you should take a look at NTCIP 1202 traffic signal coordination.

The Day Plan calls the Action Plan.  The Action Plan calls the Coordination Plan.  The Coordination Plan calls the following alternate tables:

  • Phase time
  • Phase options
  • CIC plan
  • Detection plan

The coordination plan references the specific cycle, offset, sequence and split table used in the coordination plan.

The Action plan also calls the

  • Specific coordination transition mode
    • (shortway, longway or dwell values),
    • special functions are active,
    • specific phases are not allowed to undergo shortway transition
    • omitted overlaps
    • and so on and so on and so on.

The split table assigns the

  • Phase time
  • Coordinated phase (only 1 per plan)
  • Specific operation of the phase
    • Min recall
    • Max recall
    • Pedestrian recall
    • Non (use global parameters)
    • Omit
    • etc

GURPS has nothing on the National Transportation Communications standards.  And NTCIP 1202 only covers  the traffic signal operations, not center to center communications.

NTCIP compared to the GURPS books… meh.


Above is my personal collection of GURPS books.  I love the game system.  I can stop any time.  I really can.  Really.  By the way, this doesn’t include the couple of books that I have coming from Amazon…  And then there are the new Print On Demand GURPS books that I haven’t bought yet, Martial Arts, Powers, Rogues and Warriors.  heh heh heh..  I don’t have a problem.  No I don’t.

The Spiral bound book is my original 3rd Edition book I bought way back when.  It ended up falling apart, so I had a copy shop place a clear cover on front and back, and cut off the original binding, and spiral bind it.

But then, I digress, again. I don’t remember who made the connection of how long it takes for the party to get ready and my general random ramblings on the blog, but there is apparently a correlation.

So anyhow, the players got together and worked through their goblin builds.  Goblins are defined in GURPS.  They are covered in the Banestorm book, along with their own Goblin book and the 3rd Edition GURPS Fantasy books.  They are also covered in the 3rd Edition Fantasy Folk book.  The builds are all pretty much the same.

Here is a screen capture from the Banestorm 4th Edition book:


This is pretty consistent with the information in the Fantasy Folk book.  For the player’s benefit, here is the text from Fantasy Folk.


Goblins have green skin, pointed ears and sharp, white teeth. Many Goblins of both sexes are completely hairless. When a Goblin does have hair, it’s dark, wiry and grows only on the very top of the head. Their heads are extremely elongated, with high foreheads and pointed chins. The rest of their bodies are quite Human, though their nails are long, sharp and clawlike. They stand about 5.5 feet tall (height is normal for their ST, weight is 10 pounds less; Hobgoblins have normal height and weight for their ST), and wear clothing according to local fashion.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Goblins have ST .2 (.15 points), DX +1 (10 points) and IQ +1 (10 points).  They have the advantage Night Vision (10 points) and the disadvantage Impulsiveness (-10 points).

It costs 5 points to play a Goblin.


Hobgoblins are large (6 to 7 feet), primitive relatives of the Goblins. They are somewhat hairier than their smaller relations, with a hulking body and a brutish cast to their features. They have ST +1 (10 points), DX +1 (10 points) and IQ -2 (-15 points). They have the advantage Night Vision (10 points) and the disadvantages Bad Temper (-10 points), Poverty (Dead Broke) (-25 points) and Stubbornness (-5 points).

It costs -25 points to play a Hobgoblin.


Magic is the Goblins’ first love. More than half the race has some degree of magical talent. There are few mighty Goblin wizards, but they produce a formidable number of hedge.wizards and dabblers.

Goblins revere powerful mages, and follow them if permitted. Many great wizards keep a Goblin or two about their towers to serve as lifelong apprentices and general help. Goblins also have a weakness for magical paraphernalia, and many an otherwise law.abiding Goblin has succumbed to temptation and pocketed an object of power that he had no business touching, making a world of trouble for himself and others.

Goblins also love to bargain. They’re honest merchants, after their own fashion. Goblin traders don’t actually lie, but they don’t always tell the whole truth.  They seldom violate a contract, but the other party is well advised to consider all the possible ramifications of every word of the agreement before he signs.

Goblins are, by nature, tricksters. It is a great coup for a Goblin to best his opponent in a battle of wits. Falsehood and theft are considered the easy way out. Subtlety and misdirection are proper tools to the Goblin mind. There is no honor in swindling the poor, the stupid or the naive (though there are always unscrupulous Goblins who will stoop to do so) — but to get the better of the great, the wise or the powerful in a “fair” deal, that is the true Goblin way. Anyone who can beat a Goblin in a deal will earn his respect and that of other Goblins as well; a trader will always tell a good story, even if it’s on himself. But the Goblins will redouble their efforts to someone they respect!

Many Goblins are gypsies, wandering constantly wherever their fancy leads.  Others choose the life of caravan merchants or mariners — they have a home that they return to every so often, but most of their lives are spent between somewhere and somewhere else. Still others settle down for a few years, until the wanderlust hits them, then pull up stakes and head for new scenery. But many Goblins are as settled as the most homebound of Halflings.

Goblins aren’t a naturally combative race. When they do bear arms they prefer bows and slings, or polearms (to keep their enemy at a distance). For day to day use, however, the Goblins rely on light armor and weapons that can be conveniently carried. Though they can be courageous at need, the preferred Goblin method for dealing with a threat is simply to run away. Goblin war bands prefer to fight as skirmishers or guerrillas.

The original Goblin language still survives, though it is only in common use among the gypsies. Goblins use both traditional names and names borrowed from other languages. Traditional Goblin names use explosive consonant sounds like P, B, J, T and CH, and have long vowel sounds — Baajikiil, Jitotii, Toov’tekki. Most Goblins use only one name. There are no “male” and “female” names among Goblins, so a Goblin in a Human city might name her daughter John or Edward after an admired local figure.

Goblins have a very sophisticated sense of irony. Their wit is sometimes subtle enough that non.Goblins don’t even notice it. Although they have little artistic tradition of their own, a few Goblins have become well.known through their mastery of another culture’s art. Many Goblins are clever, even inspired, craftsmen and inventors. An ornate or complex mechanical curiosity is nearly as fascinating to a Goblin as a magic item.

The Goblin voice is rough and their songs are ugly to other ears. Some Goblins (particularly gypsies) become good instrumentalists and dancers. Goblins take their religion from the other races around them. Even their earliest.known faith was a somewhat less sanguinary version of the Orcish religion.


The first civilized race to meet the Goblins was the Dwarves. At the time the Goblins were engaged in a fierce war with an Orc nation — neither side could remember a time when the Goblins and the Orcs hadn’t been fighting.

The Goblins and Dwarves joined forces, and soon wiped out the Orcish forces. Less than a century later the Goblins were forever banned from living in Dwarven lands. The Dwarves claim that the reason for the ban has been “forgotten” (though the ban has never been lifted). This almost certainly means that the Dwarves were swindled, or otherwise tricked or embarrassed, by their newfound allies. The Goblins have countless improbable legends about what this great trick might have been. Before their exile, however, the Goblins learned about Humans and Elves, and headed for those lands.

Goblins will eat almost anything. Though not particularly fond of it, they have a very high tolerance for carrion (some sages have suggested that the Goblins and the Ghouls are somehow related). Normally, however, they conform to whatever dietary customs are practiced locally.

They are polygamous. Usually one male will have one to four wives, but custom also allows one wife to have several husbands, if all parties agree to such a relationship. Goblin births are usually twins or triplets; female births outnumber males by more than two to one. A female can give birth yearly. Though the race is prolific, the dangers of the road control the Goblin population. Young Goblins grow fast, reaching majority at age 15. They begin to age at 45.

The Hobgoblins are hulking, primitive versions of the Goblin race. They completely lack the subtlety and wit of their smaller kin. Some Hobgoblins still live in the wild, in small and desperate bands, but many of them live among the Goblins.  The Goblins provide the Hobs with security and guidance, and the Hobs provide the Goblins with willing labor and formidable physical protection. The two races cannot interbreed.

Hobgoblins have a problem with the concept of property. They understand money — it can be used to buy food, drink and entertainment. But they just don’t get the concept of deferred gratification. A Hobgoblin will spend a fortune in a few days on trinkets and delicacies. Within a week everything he purchases will be eaten, lost or destroyed. Most Hobgoblins only own a single primitive weapon and a few rags or furs to keep them warm.

Many Hobgoblins serve Goblins, Humans, and even sometimes Dwarves as
guards and laborers. Their masters provide them with the necessities of life and,
occasionally, a few small coins to play with. Uncontrolled, wild Hobgoblins are generally savage, ruthless and brutal (though not as cruel as the Orcs), and should be avoided.


Precedence and status among the Goblins is determined entirely by merit, gauged by the individual’s success at deals, usually (but not always) measured by his wealth.  The most accomplished individual is proclaimed the leader of the Goblin band or community by the people. When the community can’t reach a consensus, the dissidents simply take their chosen leader and head in another direction.  Alternatively, a leader will attempt to prove his qualifications by opposing and arguing with the current boss at every opportunity. This is a dangerous course, and it usually only works if the challenger really is more competent than the boss.

Goblin society can be divided into three rough classes — trading Goblins, town Goblins and gypsy Goblins. The traders go singly or in groups, by caravan, ship or on foot. They reach every corner of the globe.

The town Goblins may live in settlements of their own, or in cities of another race; almost every large Human town has a Goblin quarter. The most respected town Goblins are the caravan merchants or mariners. Such folk are seldom at home, but they do often maintain a single home their entire life. These are the most competent and prosperous Goblin.folk. Even town and gypsy bosses will defer to a trader when one is present. Skillful craftsmen also earn respect, especially if they hammer out good deals when they sell their wares! The rest of the town Goblins are mostly simple workers and tradesmen.

The gypsy Goblins have adopted the culture of the Human nomads. Like Human gypsies, they are a flamboyant people, moving from place to place in brightly.colored wagons. They make their living as coopers, peddlers and entertainers, supplemented by petty thievery. A savvy village will welcome a few town Goblins among them, as the town Goblins will consider it a challenge to prevent their gypsy kin from robbing their neighbors blind. Both sets of Goblins will enjoy the contest of wits, and the locals will find their losses sharply curtailed when the gypsies come to town.

Though most Goblins are not evil, there are many who make their living as professional criminals. Most are simple thieves or swindlers, but professional spies and assassins are not unknown. Goblins are very credulous when it comes to religion, and they can easily be seduced into dark cults.

Goblins are not as pugnacious as men or Orcs, but they can fight bravely at need. Their intelligence and dexterity makes them dangerous foes as light infantry (especially skirmishers). Their impulsiveness can interfere with discipline. On the other hand, the morale of a Goblin unit will always improve if their leader has a magic item! Goblins will often be found as quartermasters or staff officers in Human or mixed armies.

Goblin seafarers are also common. There are many Goblin trading ships, as well as a few Goblin pirates.


Goblins predominantly live among humanity, adopting most of their fashions, customs and tongues from that source. Generally they are accepted, and judged on their individual merits, though they are sometimes outlawed in provincial rural villages, or in the more militantly conservative nations.

The Goblins’ relationship with the Dwarves is bizarre. The Dwarves consider the Goblins flighty, and they know that the Goblin fascination with magic and gadgetry makes them potential thieves. They also know that the Goblins are sharp dealers. But the Dwarves, mercantile yet, would be cutting their own throats if they did not trade with the roving Goblins! Thus, a Dwarf (at least, a Dwarf with goods to sell) will welcome a Goblin trader, but will not trust him nearly as far as he could throw him. The Goblins, of course, respect the Dwarves’ craftsmanship and magic, and this respect makes them all the more eager to swindle the Dwarves at every opportunity. The Dwarves will occasionally allow a Hobgoblin or two to work in their mines.

Elves confuse Goblins. They are too wise to be easily swindled, and too otherworldly to be interesting or amusing. Elven magic is usually too low key to amuse the Goblins for long. Transactions between the two races are usually minor, cordial and as brief as possible. For their part, the Elves find the Goblins amusing. Halflings and Goblins get along splendidly, since Halflings enjoy dickering almost as much as the Goblins. Oddly, though the two peoples trade together often, they seldom settle in the same area.

They generally ignore the sylvan races, since these folk have little need of trade — but occasionally a Faun will purchase a knickknack from a passing Goblin peddler, or a caravan will drop off a load of iron to be turned into shoes and weapons for Centaurs. Goblin mariners often know and trade with the seafolk.

The feud between the Goblins and the Orcs is ancient, but in recent centuries the Goblins have preferred to stay where Humans are, which usually means a place where Orcs aren’t.

Not all of this really translates well for this particular campaign.  This particular campaign involves players playing goblins trying to explore their world. The world actually is the spaceship Warden from Metamorphosis Alpha.  Now the players know what the scenario is (metagaming), but the characters don’t.  The players are a group of goblins living in one of the levels of the ship, 300 years after the cataclysm in a pretty much medieval (tech level 3) world.  In the medieval world, most people never got more than about 2 miles from their home during their life.  So between the cataclysm that turned their ancestors from humans to goblins, the fact that as goblins they try to hide from non goblins and the 300 years with no written communications, the goblins are pretty much unknowing about what is outside of their small world.  For now.

Following is the intro to Metamorphosis Alpha.  From a metagaming perspective, the players know this.  The characters don’t.


Mankind’s urge to explore and expand its frontiers finally caused another push into the vastness of space – first interplanetary, then interstellar. By the 23rd Century a great migration wave was spreading from Old Terra to the hundreds of inhabitable worlds that had been discovered in the Milky Way galaxy. During the next hundred years colonization ships of all types and descriptions went out to the stars, bearing seedling colonies seeking a better life. Many found their new homes – for better or for worse – but for one reason or another scores of these starships never reached their destination. This game is based on just such an event, the fate of a colony ship that became lost…

The starship Warden was created from the designs used in the United Western Starship Cartel program, and it was laid down in the Trans-Plutonian Spaceyards in 2277. The design was the most ambitious ever attempted, the blueprints calling for an oval spheroid of tremendous size using a new metal alloy of tensile strength previously unknown. The ship was an incredible 50 miles in length, with a width of 25 miles, and a height of eight and one half miles. Additional levels above and below the central one brought the total number of decks to 17. Warden required 11 years to complete, and it did not leave the Sol System until 2290 because of the effort required to outfit the starship. The vessel contained complete Terran environments, and the colonists were not rigidly screened for the expedition, for it was held that Warden’s accommodations would place few physical or psychological stresses upon
colonist or crewman.

A description of the starship’s levels, as well as some of the equipment typically found on each, follows. The vessel was basically given over to large, open areas, with a simple system of electronic locks used to insure that colonists did not stray into command or possibly harmful areas. With its cargo of the flora and fauna of Earth, 1½ million colonists, and 50,000 crew members, the wonder of the Interstellar Colonization Age set forth to found a new world many light years from its old home.


Some one-third of the way to the planetary destination that had been selected for Warden stretched the very fringe of a cloud of space radiation. This cloud had been charted and analyzed, so that Warden’s captain was aware that he was to plot a course to avoid any possible danger. Somehow the vessel came too close to the radiation, and the cloud contained disaster. The energy given off at the fringes of this celestial hazard was foreign to all previously known radiation types. It passed through every one of the ship’s protection systems and defense screens. The effects on the ship itself were startling. The worst hit were the colonists aboard, and most of the human beings exposed to the radiation simply turned to piles of calcium with no advance symptoms. Hard hit also were the flora and fauna that underwent mutation if they even survived at all. Even some of the vessel’s systems were affected, and unstable, radioactive areas were caused from the cloud’s radiation. The humans who survived the initial exposure discovered too late that life forms in their natural  setting – such as the ecologically prepared forest areas and the like – seemed to have the greatest resistance to the effects of the radiation. A few of the crew and colonists then took to living in the huge parks of Warden. A handful remained who tried to restore sanity and order to the starship. They failed.

Life became a struggle merely to survive for those humans that were left. In this struggle all knowledge of the ship’s mission or even, in fact, that the humans were on a ship was lost.  Ship’s systems were maintained in a minimum operative state by the vessel’s main computer and the robots that were operating at the time of the cloud’s entrance into the starship. Later generations of humans lost all sense of identity, with the ship regressing into a state of savagery. Life quickly stabilized (as life has a habit of doing) with new life forms created from exposure to the unknown radiation. The humans settled into a tribal way of life and those few that traveled and came back told of areas where the animals walked like men and plants were able to talk and move. The vessel traveled on past its assigned planet with its safety systems preventing the ship’s destruction by crashing into a planet or burning up in the sun. It is only a matter of time until even those almost perfect systems fail and the  starship dies. Until that time, life continues to flourish and the Warden travels on, much changed from what it once was.


The players of the game are put into this situation as humans, mutated humanoids, or intelligent monsters. What they do and how they survive the dangers of the ship makes for an interesting situation for all participants alike. The travels up and down through the starship are only accomplished by using bits and pieces of ancient knowledge the players are able to gather from the referee and their starting point. Travelling throughout the ship forces the players to gain technological devices and information just to survive on a day-to-day basis. They can also make use of the secretions and liquids produced by the mutated plants and creatures of the forest levels.

Now, I played Metamorphosis Alpha in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  I also played the TSR 2nd edition of MA, which tried really hard to capture some of the wonky MA stuff.  But Gamma World was not as much fun as the over the top MA stuff.  MA was a lot of fun.  Gamma World tried to apply Gary Gygax’s ego to the MA stuff.  Now readers of this blog know that I have a love – hate relationship with anything that Gary Gygax did.  I appreciate his genius in creating an industry.  Yes, other companies were doing similar things, but Gary took TSR and made it accessible.  When I was a kid living in a town of 12,000 people, I could get TSR stuff at normal stores.  We didn’t have a “game” store in my hometown until I was a senior in high school  My brother and I would talk our parents into going to Seattle to get miniatures, paints, games, RPG books etc.  We went to a game store in the Ballard Area called American Eagles.  There were probably others, but American Eagles was the place to go.

In Mount Vernon, I could get TSR games at Hallmark, Payless Drugs, and if I remember right, also at Sears.  They may have had TSR games at the local bookstore, but I don’t remember that.  I bought D&D books, D&D modules, Star Frontiers, Boot Hill, Top Secret, Gama World and other games at Hallmark.  I went there because the owner of the Hallmark was the mother of a girl I liked, and I kept hoping that if the girl saw me buying the cool TSR stuff at her mother’s store, she might want to talk with me.  Hey, I know it is kind of stupid, but I was 11, well 11 through 15, and I never figured out that I could have just gone up to her at school and said “hi”.  My adolescent brain couldn’t figure out why I kept buying cool TSR games and supplements from her mom, and she didn’t think to even notice my existence.  Was I a normal game playing teenager, who didn’t know his way around the complex interpersonal interactions of middle and high school?  Yes.

Anyhow, I love MA.  Well, I love the concept of MA. The storyline is amazing.  The actual game mechanics are meh.  It was one of the first RPG games to come out, and James Ward had a phenomenal idea for the setting, just the mechanics are not great.  Now, at the time, in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, most game mechanics were challenging at best.

This is where the love / hate relationship with Gary Gygax comes in.  Everything at TSR needed his blessing.  And he put his influence on everything.  They tried new game mechanics, like in Indiana Jones, Star Frontiers (one of the best TSR games EVER!), Conan and others.  But the systems were clunky at best.  Also, Gary decided that only specific products could ever be included in the D&D realm.  OK, it was his intellectual property, but do we really need to point out on miniatures that you always needed to use specific paints, brushes and adhesives?


But this isn’t about Gary Gygax.  This is about taking the MA world and running goblins in the GURPS system.

So the players finished out their characters.  I gave each of them a specific quirk.  At first, the quirk was a personality quirk, which eventually would morph into some form of magic or psi talent… if their character lived long enough.  This is after all, the MA world where mutations exist.  Maybe these characters will be able to control these mutations.

What was interesting is when I took the players aside,  to explain their quirk, they each wanted to tell me about what their character was, and how they are going to play it, before I told them what their quirk was.  Now, in the words of Collin, “I got this”.  I have been playing with these people for a while, so I kind of figured out what sort of characters they play…  Every player seemed to think that their quirk was pretty good.  For example:

  • Collin believes that he controls fire
  • Shari is convinced that she has telekinesis
  • William is convinced he can communicate with animals
  • Mike believes that he controls metal, and is able to magnetically attach spoons to his skin
  • Sue is convinced that her dreams are visions that will come true
  • Eric is convinced that he can bolster his own energy by sucking the live energy out of others.

The goblins live in a small underground village of Gargun.

At the beginning of the adventure…  The goblin village looked something like this:


The goblins need to find food, and maintain their village / lodge.  Now just because they need to do this, doesn’t mean that they did do that.  Not this group of players

The tribe’s name is “Foulspawn”, and they are in a forest that is alongside a path that leads between two human villages, Morgath and Khuzdun.  At least that is what the goblins call them.  There are additional goblins residing in the two human villages, living inside a dwarf hole complex in the village wells.  Those goblins come out at night and pillage the village.  Always careful to not be noticed.

That was supposed to be key.  “careful not to be noticed”. Oh well.  That wasn’t in the party’s desires.

The goblins have lived by this trail, midway between the two human villages, and have cleared out a clearing where the human travelers will stop and spend the night.  The goblins would normally have gone out to steal useful things from the travelers.

But that is only what I thought the players should do.

So for a way to ease the players into GURPS, I set up a few easy things for them to work on.  First, the goblin queen wants the players to get some more wood to help hold up the roof of dirt.  Seems simple enough, right.


Not this group.


Not at all.

The group goes out to gather some wood, and decides to cut down a small tree.  It has a 1-inch diameter base, so it is only about 5 ft tall.  That doesn’t get them much that they can use.  They then cut down a large tree, one that is about 8-inches in diameter.  This tree is massive.  It falls down, blocking the trail.

What to do?  What to do?

I will let you guess who decides to light it on fire.  Yes, you guessed it.  Collin.  As the fallen tree starts to burn the rest of the party looks around for something to goblin.

Now, normally, I would say “the party looks for something to do”, but “…something to goblin” makes more sense.  At least for this group.

While the tree is on fire, a strange looking creature ambles into the clearing and attacks Shari.  It is an animated mushroom that walks on many little feet and has a face.  Eric wants the feet.  William wants to vanquish it.  Mike wants to go crazy-ninja on it.  Shari wants to get away from it (at first).  It hurts a lot.  Sue and Collin are mesmerized by the tree that is on fire.

The fire is spreading, burning down much of the land around the lodge entrance.  The land included many bushes and trees that effectively hid the entrance to the lodge.  Now all of the cover and concealment is burning down.  Does this bother the goblins.  Apparently not.

Four goblins end up attacking the walking mushroom.  It hurts several of the goblins, including biting William on the arm.  William’s arm tingles.  Then Mike ninja jumps on it, attempting to grapple on it.  William has a moment of clarity and makes pig sounds.  William figures that all mushrooms are mortally afraid of pigs.  William rolls a 4, a critical success.  The mushroom thing bolts out of the clearing while Mike is grappling it.  Mike rolls off and watches the mushroom monster run away.


While all of this was going on, Sue and Collin were fascinated by the fire on the tree.  I kind of figured it looked something like this:

Shari tries eating a chunk of cut off mushroom.  She doesn’t get sick, but it is pretty bland and woody.  Several of the goblins try first aid on William.  They give him back health points, but his arm still tingles.

The forest is on fire.  The tree that was lit on fire has caught the trees, bushes, grass all on fire.  The cave entrance is no longer hidden.

What to do?  What to do.  Definitely don’t tell the queen about this.  Now the goblin queen is pretty much immobile.  She lives in her lair, and relies on the other goblins to provide for her needs, so she can focus on creating eggs.  So the goblins don’t have a good explanation for why the queen smells smoke, but the smoke has made her hungry.  She wants chickens.  Live chickens.

Mike doesn’t know what a chicken is.  No one is willing to tell him.  So the crew goes off to a nearby farm to get some vittles for the goblin queen.

It takes a while, but in the end, they find a farm.  It is near dusk, and the farmer and his family are inside eating soup.  William doesn’t like soup.  The farm includes a farmhouse (with the human farmers in it), along with some sown crops, a barn with a small fenced area outside, a chicken coop (which also includes ducks and geese, and an obelisk.  The obelisk glows.

A lot of discussion happens.  In the end, Eric walks over to the barn to get some sacks.  He notices two goats in the fenced in area.  He goes towards barn, and one of the goats attempts to head butt him.  The goat misses, horribly.  Eric decides he needs a goat.  Mike look over and sees the four legged chickens that Eric is playing with.  Eric goes into the barn and sees (gasp) evil horses.  Eric makes his fright roll, and is able to go into the barn and get rope.  He finds a 100-ft length of rope, and brings it out and ties it to the boy goat. He now has a goat on a 100-ft long rope.  Mike wants the other goat, and talks Eric into cutting off a 3-ft length so he can lasso the girl goat.  They walk over to where the rest of the party is trying to figure out how to take the entire chicken coop with them.

They have a plan.  It may not be a great plan, but it is a goblin plan.

The party is able to successfully pick up the entire chicken coop, and transport it along with the two goats back to the goblin lair.

They bring the chickens, ducks and geese into the queen, who promptly consumes all of them.

Now, the goblins realize that they need to camouflage the entrance to the lair again. They decide to take the chicken coop, and place it in front of the entrance, and cut a hole from the lair into the coop, and use the coop as the new camouflaged entrance.

Like I said, they have a plan.  It was a goblin plan.

They use an ax to cut  the passageway.  It was a really poor quality cut.

And we left it at that for this week.

More next week.

Tales from the Yawning Portal Episode 07


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We all met for another rousing session of D&D on Saturday.  All of the players arrived at the game store at almost the exact time.  We actually all drove into the parking lot simultaneously.  Well, one right after another.  Simultaneously would mean that we all occupied the same place at the same time.  Thankfully, for our insurance rates, that did not happen.

I brought in some friends.  This included Scrotus, the owlbear.  I also brought in some puppets that included a hairy tarantula and a mouse.  For some reason, none of the pictures I took during the session included the tarantula puppet, but here is a shot from the Interwebs.


He is a cute little guy.  Shari seemed to like playing with him a lot.  I guess the tarantula could be a her, not a him.  I don’t know much about spiders, and tarantulas are really big spiders.

So you might ask, why would I have a tarantula and a mouse puppet?  I don’t really have a good answer for that.  About 10 years ago, my brother and I went to Arizona to provide moral support for my mom and dad.  My mom had a brain tumor, and it was a very tricky operation.  My mom and dad have really good healthcare.  The tumor surrounded the carotid artery in the brain.  This was a very risky procedure, and my parents wanted to use a good doctor, not just anyone.

It turns out that the best doctor in the world for this type of operation lived in Phoenix AZ, and they had the best facility in the world for this type of operation.  Now, when I say the best doctor in the world, this guy had done a total of 10 of these operations, when the second best doctor in the world had done 2 or 3.  This was pretty rare stuff.  My parents, having really good health care decided that they would go with the guy with the most experience, not the number two guy.  They made several trips from central Oregon, where they lived to Phoenix, and got all of the paperwork lined up.  Then they went to Phoenix for just over three months.  The three months was for the week before the operation, and then three months after, where my mom could be seen regularly by the specialty clinic.  My brother and I flew down a couple of days before the operation, and hung around for emotional support for my parents for the week after the operation.

The way that the doctors found the tumor in the first place is an odd story.  My mom had no idea that she had a tumor.  No family history, nothing.  She was at the doctor’s office near her home, and when her normal doctor’s appointment was finishing up, she got up off the funny bed thing that you sit on in the examination room, and slipped and fell onto the floor, clunking her head on something hard.  The doctors were really worried, what if that caused some sort of damage?  Oh the potential risk to their insurance rates!  So they rushed her off and got a cat scan of her head, to make sure nothing bad happened due to the fall.  And during the cat scan, they saw a growth in her brain that shouldn’t be there.  That led to a longer set of tests, consultations, and other doctory stuff, which ended up with my mom being operated on by the best doctor in the world to remove a tumor from the brain, where the tumor is surrounding the carotid artery.

Phoenix is a pretty neat place.  Well, Phoenix can be a neat place.  It can also be stupidly hot.  As I write this blog, two of my coworkers are at an IMSA conference in Phoenix, and it is record breaking temperatures.


Luckily, we were in Phoenix in March, and it was only high 80’s during the day.  It sometimes got to over 90 during the week my brother and I were there.

But about five years ago, I also went to Phoenix to go to a national IMSA conference.  It was in early July, and the monsoons came through.  So it was 105 plus and 95% humidity.  I honestly don’t know how, or why people live there.  It is hot.  Too damn hot.

Anyhow, back to the story about the tarantula and mouse puppets.  During my mother’s operation, my brother and I sat with my dad.  It was a long day.  It was heartbreaking watching my mom go off in a bed to a very complicated operation where her chances of living through it were not great.  This was serious stuff.  So during the operation, my brother and I sat with my dad, and kept him company.  My mom made a full recovery, so it was mostly stress related to waiting to hear.  They have been married now for over 50 years.  They had good times, and times which were challenging for them, but they truly love each other very much.  My dad, who is normally a stoic man who doesn’t show a lot of emotion (He is a man who was born in the mid 1940’s, from German descent… of course he doesn’t show a lot of emotion 🙂  )  But he was truly worried about the outcome of this invasive operation.

So my brother and I did our best to keep him company.  When she made it through, and he had to wait for her to come out of the anesthesia, we talked, sat quietly, and took clues from my dad as to whether we should talk or sit quietly some more.  I went to get sodas and sandwiches for them.  Either my brother or I were always with him during the operation.

Long story short, when she came out of the operation, and the anesthesia wore off, we were there.  She had problems with the anesthesia, but when she came to, she wanted to see all three of us, then she wanted a diet Doctor Pepper.  She loves diet Doctor Pepper.  In prep for the surgery, they wanted her to not drink anything with caffeine for several weeks prior to the surgery.  So the first Dr. Pepper resulted in her sipping the soda, and saying “oh that is good!”.

So you, dear reader are asking what this has to do with puppets?  Not much.  My dad wanted to spend time with my mom, and my brother and I realized that we needed to give them some time, so he and I took a road trip the day after the operation to go see some of the sites, such as the Sonora Desert Zoo, and Tuscon.  While we were at the zoo, I found the puppets.  I had to have them.  They sometimes come out when necessary.

Anyhow, my brother and I took my dad on several road trips during the week we were there with him.  We took him to the fire engine museum, and the rock museum.  Most of the time, we were simply giving him something to be occupied with, while my mom recuperated from the operation.

So what does this have to do with D&D?  Not much, just the back story on the puppets.

So Eric came back and played today.  They recovered from the fire snake from last week, and continued on.  Eric was brought up to speed on what had happened in his absence.  As the party continued on in the dungeon, they came across a large room that was full of glowing fungus.  In this room was a female bugbear, tending the garden.

Now, the party decided not to immediately attack, well kind of.  Someone at the table decided that the mouse puppet would make a good female bugbear.

Here is a more accurate picture of a female bugbear.  This is important for later.


The party moves into the room, looking for treasure.  There are several doors leading out of the chamber.  The bugbear is pretty interested in the party, but isn’t fighting, yet.  Now, Mike, with his cleric has a good idea, so he thinks.  He decides to try to make friends with the female bugbear.

Sue’s rogue decides to go and check out the door on the north wall of the room.  There is something rather slick and gooey on the handle.  While investigating it, an ochre jelly drops down on her, causing acid and bludgeon damage.


Bill’s sorcerer hits the ochre jelly with a ray of frost.  It retreats into a crack over the door.

Eric on the other hand, opens the door and attacks the female bugbear in the other room.  Well, he tries to.  As he moves through the doorway, the ochre jelly slips through the crack, and drops on the gnome-dwarf and starts searing his chainmail armor.  The gnome-dwarf sheds his chainmail, and then is attacked by the female bugbear in the other room (shown schematically with Scrotus in the picture below.

Now, I am not sure that I can adequately explain what happens next.  The female bugbear wants some Barry White style loving from the cleric.

The bugbears decide to take the cleric for all he is worth.  Satisfaction Guaranteed!  In the photo below, Bugbear 1, is shown with the mouse puppet.  Bugbear 2 is the d20.  Yes, it is the dream of all clerics to have a  relationship with bugbears.  Maybe it is just the dream of this particular cleric?


Hubba hubba!

The bugbears decide to take the cleric for all he is worth.  Meanwhile the rest of the party starts opening doors.  Behind the southern door, they find three goblins tending the crops.  Behind the eastern door, they find another fire snake.  The battle is furious, people are attacked by the fire snake.

During the fight, the party tries to run away from the fire snake, then they engage it, and continue to fight, until the fire snake is vanquished.

After the fire snake is vanquished, killed even, the party takes a short rest, 4 hours.  It isn’t much of a restful rest, since they are listening to the goings on of the cleric and the two bugbears.  The whimpers, screams, moans and other odd noises coming from the next room make for a rather unrestful rest, but it was a short rest.

The party continues on, and finds a few rooms left.  They go to one room that forms a T, and the party goes to the left at the T.  The party continues through the labyrinth of the jungle until they come to a door.  Now the rogue is worried.  Eric’s gnome-dwarf is looking for any sort of armor.  He doesn’t like the fact that his armor is missing.

They enter a room, and find that there is a large marble statue of a dragon. The eye sockets are glowing.  The room is rather dark.  They investigate the room, and are attacked by a shadow.  It hurts a lot.  The shadow takes strength from the party member when it hits.  They almost defeat the shadow but it runs away.

The rogue may or may not have found special treasure which she may or may not have shared some or all with the rest of the party.

The next room they investigate is a ruined library.  They do find a valuable book and several spell scrolls.

They continue on, and go back to the T room, and go the other way (the way they have not gone yet)  They continue on down the halls, and come to a room.  In the room are more ruined bookshelves full of herbs and spices, and a table in the middle with a book.  The book is pretty.  Really pretty.  The sorcerer opens it up, and sees the beautiful endpapers of a beautiful book.  He then turns the page to the first page, and a powerful glyph trap explodes, dealing massive damage to the party.  The trap knocks several characters to 0 hitpoints.  Stabilization occurs.  The party realizes that they need a long rest at this point.  I give it to them, along with allowing them to go to the 3rd level.  After all, all that is left is the boss monster fight.  They will need to be fully up to speed on hitpoints, spells, and everything else.

So they have a long rest, and the party members figure out how they are going to get to the 3rd level.  More hitpoints, more boons, and so forth.

At the end of the long rest, I draw out the final battle.  I take time to draw out the bushes, the edges of the chamber, the large tree at the end of the chamber, the bad guys, the good guys who were tainted by the bad guys…   you know, boss battle time.

I even took the time to read all of the bad guy characters, and plan out how the spells from the druid and magic user would be used against the party.

Then Collin.

You see, Collin is playing a bard.  Bards are weird characters. Collin has persuasion up the ass.  Well, maybe not up the ass, but he has a +7 in persuasion as a 3rd level character.  Up to now, we have only joked about Collin playing his flute.  We tease him about Zamfir.  We joke about his battle songs on the flute…  you know, typical players trying to shame the person playing the bard, to shame the player to play a real class, I mean if you want to be a quirky useless character, why not be an illusionist after all.

But Collin wants to be a fucking bard.  Great.  What the fuck does a bard do?  Well, the fucking bard manages to fucking fuck up everything for the fucking boss fucking fight.  Fuck.

Actually, it isn’t that bad.

The bard parlays with the bad guys.  He decides that he will trade the monk (to be a supplicant for the bad guy’s army) for the signet ring from the other royal.

After all, the victory condition for this module is to bring back the two signet rings, and they already have one.  So I tell Collin to roll for it.  He rolls a natural 20, and adds 7 to the persuasion roll.

I guess that means that the deal is struck.  I mean, as a DM, how can I argue with that.  Since Brian isn’t there, Shadow Hawke is traded for a signet ring.  Hmmm.

The party goes back to the royals, and gives the two signet rings back to dear old mother royal, and beats feet out of town, before too many questions can be asked.

Next week, GURPS with goblins on the Starship Warden.




Tales from the Yawning Portal Episode 06


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So I haven’t posted on the blog for a few weeks.  We have met and played games on Saturday, but they were Zombicide games.  After a while, it can get a little old writing about Zombicide.  I like the game a lot.  A lotta lot.  But writing about the things that happened can get repetitive.

On Thursday nights, I have been playing Pathfinder instead of running Call of Cthulhu.  Daron wanted to run some more Pathfinder.  The last few Thursdays, I have been busy, so I haven’t attended that game.

Sue came back.  She came back from Oklahoma.  We aren’t too sure what Sue was doing there, but we think she was on a special secret government mission to determine if liberalism could survive or even prosper in the bible belt.  This is the second time that she has disappeared from the Pacific Northwest, on missions to Oklahoma.  She talked about going a third time, maybe for another month.

There are several possible reasons that she is going there.  The reason she talks about is that she is going to visit her daughter.  That is all fine as a cover story, and it seems to hold up under a less than critical review.  Why would anyone leave the beautiful Vantucky urban area to go fly three quarters of the way across the country to see Oklahoma.  I mean if she just wanted to travel, she could travel the same distance and go to most of Texas (including Dallas), Kansas, Missouri, Iowa or possibly Minnesota.  Now, I have been to each of those states, and for my money, I would rather go to my FLGS and spend the same amount of money on games, miniatures and maybe dice than go to any of those states.  QED, family must be the reason.

But for extended periods of time?  That doesn’t make sense.  Mike went the first time with Sue, and I think that Mike just washed out of the program, and he couldn’t take it there in Oklahoma.

I mean, I would go batshit crazy if I went somewhere and this happened every morning at dawn.

Now, searching for Vantucky on Youtube I get this.  I am not sure if this is better, or worse than Rogers and Hammerstein, but then, I don’t know.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, Sue was back.

Molly, my wife asked why Sue went to Oklahoma.  I told Molly the “story” about how Sue was going there to spend time with her daughter.  Molly said that we could always bring Sue in electronically, and play with her via the Internet.  I told Molly that I don’t think that Oklahoma has high speed internet yet.

As you can see, Ferdinand, Rocky and Frida are excited about the prospects of the balance being achieved in Vantucky.  Well, actually, they just got through with a long stay at the dog park, and are happy to be going home.

What do my dog pictures have to do with Sue being back, or possibly Oklahoma?  nothing.  I just like my dogs a lot, and want to put pictures of them all over the Interwebs.

So Sue showed up on Saturday, wanting to bring us something that included the feel of Oklahoma.  She brought meat sticks.  Now, I am not an expert in meat sticks.  I like to eat them occasionally.  I also know that you should not eat meat sticks while drinking root beer.  Other than that, I did not know that there were other types of meat sticks than regular, spicy and teriyaki.

I never imagined that you could have meat sticks made from feral swine.

I wanted to put something pithy, or witty about feral hogs here.  But after looking around the Internet, I realized that they are a real problem, and there is nothing pithy or witty to say about feral hogs.

Well, aside from that buzzkill, we did bring a new member to the party.  I saw a stuffed owlbear while searching the Interwebs.  Roy was able to get it for me, so it is now in attendance at the table.

We tried to figure out names.  Many names were versions of President Trump’s moniker.  We ended up with naming him Scrotus.  As near as I can tell, this is a combination of the words Scrotum and POTUS.

I am still not sure what President Trump has done to deserve such indolent disrespect from taxpaying Americans.


But, Scrotus it is.  I was thinking “Barney” or “Phil”, or maybe “Ralph”, but even without Eric’s presence, the group decided he needed to be named Scrotus.

In other news, we still have the red wire.  The best red wire going from the transformer, across my neighbor’s driveway and lawn to the splitter that feeds both of our houses.

Hopefully, we will have new wires installed soon.  This red wire, the best red wire, the red wire of amazing tremendous tremendousness is responsible for carrying one of the 120 volt AC feeds from the transformer to each of our houses.

But then.  I digress.  Again.  I will probably digress again, and again, and again.

The game started out, and Mike brought out this refrigerator magnet.  Little did anyone know, Mike had President Obama doing the Dolnitzer all the time.

Upon placing the refrigerator magnet on the table, the entire world got seriously more chilled out.  Ferdinand was happy.  But then, Ferdinand is always happy.  Except for when I go to work.  Then Ferdinand is really upset.

Rocky, on the other hand, was convinced that even with President Obama to the rescue, something bad was going to happen.  No good comes from needing to wake up and get out of bed.  Ever.

Frida, on the other hand, was probably going to be OK, as long as there were ample belly rubs and other things like treats, snacks and goodies.  The presence of the President Obama refrigerator magnet did not change her desire for treats, snacks, goodies and belly rubs.

So the party tried to figure out what to do.  It had been four weeks since we played D&D, after all, we didn’t want to play D&D while Sue was on her Special Forces Recon mission to Oklahoma, or wherever she really went…

After a while, the party decided that they remembered what they had done, and I did not agree or disagree with them.  I let them remember whatever they wanted, in whatever way they wanted to remember it.  At no time, did they ask me if they were correct, so I felt pretty comfortable in not correcting anything that they got wrong, nor leading them down any false trails with red herrings.

But then, I don’t ever feel any twinge of guilt when I lead the players down false leads or red herrings.  Funny.  I wonder what sort of psychopath that makes me?  Madman, maniac, lunatic, psychotic, sociopath; loony, fruitcake, nutcase, nutjob, psycho, schizo, head case, sicko, screwball, crazy, kook, loon… maybe a combination of some or more than some of these?

I wonder…Capture

But where was I?  Oh yes…

After much deliberation, the party decided to send Meepo, the monk and the white dragon wyrmling off to the Kobalds.  The rest of the party wanted to continue in the dungeon.  Now the monk was not there this week.  Neither was Eric’s gnome fighter, but the party decided to keep the meat shield anyway.

The party discussed going back and trying to figure out what to do in all of the areas that they haven’t explored yet.  They teased the warlock for his ability to take hits from the mephits.  They fussed for quite a while about how to make it down the 80-ft shaft.  They knew that things were happening down there.  The area was lit with a soft green and purple glowing aura.  They could see several skeletons walking around down at the bottom of the pit.

After an extended period of time trying to figure out who had ropes, how many ropes they had, and whether the left their ropes somewhere else, the party discovered that they had a grand total of one 50-ft rope.  They would have to rely on the plant vines to allow them to climb down to the lower level.

For some reason, the other people at the table thought that I would do something that would end up with them having problems.  Go figure.

Well, two of the party members didn’t make their climb rolls.  Now I like to run a game more rules light, so I told them, make it a strength check, dex check or acrobatics check, to climb down the rope, whatever is best for you.  I figure that each character will try to figure out the best way to descend.  If they have high strength, then they will brutalize their way

Yeah, you were expecting something with a splat, I am sure.  I thought that Santa being exposed was pretty funny.  An no gore.  However, you could see how this could have ended badly, with children screaming, traumatized for life.  This falls under “What were they thinking” when they decided this would be a good way to bring Santa into the mall.

Anyhow, Two of the characters didn’t make their climb checks.  The barbarian and the Warlock fell and got seriously hurt.  The rest of the party members dropped down and landed amongst a group of skeleton farmers, all hoeing their crops.

What to do?

Well, there are a lot of things that you *could* do when you land in the middle of  a bunch of skeletons gardening glowing fungus and mushrooms.  This could involve…  I don’t know, maybe waiting a tick and seeing what is going on…  But do these murderer hobos do that?  No.  They attack.

The cleric turns undead, which chases off three of the skeletons. The skeletons respond to being slashed and bashed by hitting back with their rakes, hoes and shovels.  It isn’t a pretty sight.  But after a few rounds, three twig blights come into the fight, and cause more serious hurt than the skeletons did.


Scrotus was no help.  Not even emotional help to the party.  Scrotus was happy to watch as the party got hurt.

The party ended up killing off all the baddies.  They decided to go look up the shaft which was on the north side of the room.  The bard and the cleric went into the room and found … a bed.  Well, it was more of a pallet than a bed, but there was a pallet bed with furs on it, along with two nests, like bird nests.  Above the pallet bed was a bunch of weapons.  They were all hung with care on a board.  The weapons were not particularly good in quality, but they appeared to be a collection of some type.  Could they be trophy’s?  Could they be reminders of lovers long lost?

The party will never know.  Since during the initial encounter, the occupiers of this room had a 75% chance of being in the room, and if they were in that room, they would have come into the room with the twig blights and the skeletons on the third round of combat.  You see, I asked which player felt lucky, at the beginning of the third round…  They all looked at me kind of scared except Collin.  Well, maybe they were not scared, maybe they were trying to figure out what the hell I was on to.  But I will go with scared.  Collin took the Dolnitzer prize, and said “I got this”, and rolled an 85.  I made tisk tisk tisk sounds, and started to get ready to release three more bad guys into the fight, and Collin decided that he would roll again, by turning in his coin…  He rolled a 20.  So the party will never know who was in that room.

That being said, Collin and Mike decided that they should leave everything along in the room.  Now as far as murderer hobo parties go, the party has the murder part down, but they don’t search for treasure.  If they don’t search, it doesn’t do them any good.  No search, no find.  Who knows, there may be a +4 vorpal tweezer somewhere in the dungeon.  Maybe a wand of charcoal briquette starter.  Maybe even something useful, like a wand of acid.  But no, the party doesn’t search, so they don’t get what they don’t search for.

Now the lack of searching thing may be something that they have learned.  So far, when they searched the giant rat corpses, they got fleas.  When they searched the goblin corpses, they got a couple of copper coins, some string, a mouse head and a few scraps of rotten meat.

Now, just because they got those things, it appears that the party has decided not to bother searching anymore.  But really, why would the good stuff be near the entrance of the dungeon?  Everyone knows that the deeper you go in a dungeon, the harder the monsters are, and the better the treasure is.  Right?

So the party continues on.  Deciding not to go through the natural cavern to the north, they go to the door on the east side of the room.  Through this door is a long chamber, that is about 100-ft long and about 40-ft wide.  There are multiple columns of stone each carved with dragons swirling up the columns.  There are three doors on the north side of the chamber and three doors on the south side of this room.  This chamber is full of shelves with jars of herbs, plants, fungus, mushrooms, and other things like that.  The tools are all sickle shaped.  No one clues into what that means…

As the party goes around and looks in all of the rooms.  None of the doors are locked.  Every party member wants to look in each room at the same time.  Now the party isn’t technically splitting, but it is getting pretty damn close.  Close enough to drop a few gelatinous cubes on them…

But then, I digress.

Of the six rooms, they find one that is empty.  One has two snoring goblins on bed pallets (with another 11 empty pallets), one is an armory, with poor quality weapons and another door exiting.  One has three goblins with a giant rat tied down spread eagle on it, there are pustous sores and weeping wounds on the rat.  It is squealing piteously.  The warlock, who is wounded asks if the goblins can help.  The goblins give the warlock a glass vial of swirling greenish orange liquid, and say “help! help!” and pantomime that the warlock should drink it.

The warlock makes his constitution saving throw, and he manages to keep it down.  Little does he know, it will transform him to have the same type of tumors, wounds and puss spewing horrors as the rat on the table.  But that doesn’t matter now.

The bard and the cleric find some goblins in another room making goblin wine.  They barter to get some, watching the goblins stomp the mash of fungus and turnips (for flavor) into the thin liquid that they bottle.  The bard and cleric both get some wine for their wineskins.  It is the best goblin wine that they have had all day.  This is vintage 11 AM goblin wine.

The last room is empty, except for a large crack in the wall leading to a rift in the ground, that extends south and west from the room.  The party went down the crack (no bad jokes here, please), and the crack opened up to a rift.  As the party went down the rift, they found that there was a passageway mined into the earth, which appeared to line up with the south door on the skeleton garden room.  The mined passage crossed the rift in the earth at about a 70 degree angle.  They could continue due south, in the mined shaft, or continue southwest further in the rift.  They decided to go southwest.

As they continued southwest, in the rift, they found that the rift ended, and there was a cavern near the end.  The cavern glowed with a light.  The warlock, feeling slightly queasy decided to investigate.  Now notice the minis, in the rift.

The warlock is the brave one.  The bard (in the yellow sombrero) and the cleric (with the green tentacle hands) are standing back.  The barbarian (with the pigtails) is standing around, probably picking her nails with a dagger.  The rogue, at the far end of the map, is standing back, trying to nonchalantly allow the rest of the party to “discover” what is ahead, with the intent of helping out when it damn well pleases her.

This is a continual thing for the rogue.  Now I am not saying anything here, but the rogue is played by Sue.  She let others check for traps, and let others try to break down doors.  She was playing the “I am gonna live through this damn adventure” thing really well.

So the Warlock continues towards the glow and heat.  And he finds… a giant lava snake.  Maybe it is a fire snake.  Some sort of glowy hot snake that wants to eat him for dinner.

“Snake?” says the barbarian, and she runs in.  The snake promptly constricts around her, and she goes down.  Then the snake went after the warlock.  The warlock wasn’t so lucky.  He died.  I mean died.  Hard.

Most of the time when a character dies, he can make the death saving throws.  This party is actually pretty experienced at making death saving throws.  But in this case, the warlock took so much damage from being bitten and constricted, along with fire damage, that he outright died.  the snake ate the warlock, and then slithered off.

Now Bill was trying to come across as though he wasn’t upset about losing his warlock.  He had another half dozen characters already made up, with backstories.

He decided to play his new favorite, Winston Obert, or something like that.  His friends call him Win-O, and he is a hippy type.

Wrapping up, the party goes to the last room in this part of the dungeon.  This is a room with a large iron statue of a dragon.  The statue is holding onto a large metal tray.  On the tray is a trussed up humanoid, named… you guessed it, Win-O.

By the way, when you go to Google and look for “torture truss”, you get no hits on shopping.  It isn’t often that I get absolutely no hits on a Google search.  I find that mildly amusing.


However, when I change the Google search to images, this woman’s picture comes up a lot of times.


And so do pictures like this… ewww.


and this.


I get the truss part, for the bridge at least.  I don’t get why this bridge would hit on “torture truss”.


The party sees WinO tied up, like a Christmas goose. on the tray held by the dragon.  For some reason, they are concerned.  Maybe it is a trap.  Does the rogue offer to check the iron statue for traps?  Nope.  Does the rogue even bother going into the room.  Yes, but just to look for loot.

The barbarian eventually decides to exit the room, and poke the new guy with a javelin, to see if she can roll him off the tray.  When he falls to the ground, the barbarian takes WinO’s tin cup.

With that, the adventure ended for that day.

Now, it is July 4, and I am looking at all of the other possible things that I could do, besides writing my blog.  I pull out the new Epsilon City module for Metamorphosis Alpha.  I don’t plan to run MA, but I want to use the Epsilon City book as a basis for an upcoming GURPS game.

The Epsilon City module is awesome.  I love the Goodman Games artwork.

and it looks like a lot of fun to run and play.

And of course, my helpers are ready to assist.

Zombicide Episode 08


This last couple of weekends,  I needed a break from running RPG’s.  I love running RPG’s, but sometimes, my brain isn’t up to speed.  So I fall back to Zombicide.

I should also mix in some other games for the Saturday group.  A few fun games for larger groups could include Galaxy Trucker, Power Grid, and Talisman.  Most games are designed for 3 or 4 players.  Some have the ability to play with 5 or 6, if you buy the expansion.  There aren’t many games which work well with any number of players, 2 to 8.

But Zombicide is fun, easygoing and pretty much a crowd pleaser

I have also been working on painting more minis for the game.  The group wants me to paint more heroes.  I want to get the zombies done.  More variety in the game.  Variety is the spice of life, right?

So here are some works in progress.

First up, zombie dogs.  These little nasties (beauties?) are especially bad.  They have three activation per turn.  As in:

  • move move move
  • move move bite
  • move bite bite
  • bite bite bite
  • bite move move

you get the idea.

In case any of the players think that this is particularly a bad idea, Shari and Collin bought the box of these little cuties for me.  I can only assume that they thought it was a good idea.

The next shots are all works in progress of two boxes that I bought, called “Very Infected People” (VIP).  Each box has four copies of five minis.  They have special activation cards, which have a blue background.  This is why they mostly have the teal base.  The first two pictures were taken before I painted the first coat of the teal base.

The mechanic of this is that they spawn when their particular spawn card goes down.  They are all walkers.  When a hero kills a VIP, the VIP goes to their board.  When the hero has killed five different VIP’s, they can trade them in for a cool weapon.  However, if the players hoard the VIP’s, and  a VIP card is turned over without any minis to place, all the VIP’s get an extra activation.

Pimps.  Yes, you need zombie pimps.

I was thinking of Tony P of the Disco Boys from Mystery Men when I painted these guys.


Some punk rockers.

I am not sure what these guys are.    I thought of goths, but then I decided to paint them as more colorful than goths.  All black doesn’t show up well for 28 mm minis.

Zombie nurses.  These are not the type of people that you want giving you a shot.

Zombie construction workers

Zombie cops.  I patterned the uniform from what I remember from the City of Seattle Police, from the 1970’s.  They had an Officer Friendly program, where the police would come to the grade schools and talk with the kids, and let them see the police cars.

Zombie sailors.  Are these any worse than sailors on shore leave?

Zombie cooks.

Some zombie Santas.  It is pretty normal that I don’g see much of the detail until I start painting the mini.  The depth of detail seems to work itself into my vision when I start looking closely at the mini to start painting.  For some reason, I don’t see the details when the mini is just out of the box, or when it is primed.  I need to pick it up with a paintbrush in hand and start considering colors before I really see the details.  It is kind of hard to explain, but until I start putting color on the mini, the details don’t pop at me.

In this case, as I started painting the Santas, I realized that the beard looked like tentacles.  So I am painting two as “traditional” zombie Santas and two as SanCthuhlu’s

So yesterday, we met once again to play Zombicide.  The party got together at the beginning of the map. The goals were simple.

  • Open all of the doors
  • Everyone must survive
  • Each party member must have at least one of the following:
    • Can of food
    • Bottle of water
    • Sack of rice
    • Plenty of ammo card
  • Make it to the exit

Simple, right?  Well, maybe not.

Bill starts out helping us from the start.  He goes first, and opens up two doors.  this spawns one fatty and two walkers behind door #1, and one toxic fatty and two toxic walkers behind door #2.

Evidently, Bill never watched the Price is Right when he was home sick from school.


We survived, and entered the first building that Bill opened up, and checked out stuff.  The board populated with zombies.  I hesitate to call the zombies “bad guys”, since they are really not “bad guys”  They are not driven from any internal internal conflict, and have not conscience.  They are simply interested in eating us.

Some explanation may be in order.  The photo shows several different colors of base.  This blog previously discussed the teal base for the VIP zombies.

The red based zombies are raging zombies.  They have armor plating as part of their mutations.  They can only be killed using melee combat.

The green based zombies are toxic zombies.  They have another type of mutation, and they explode with toxic goo if you kill them in the same square.

The different gray based zombies are from the base box.  They are normal zombies.  Well, hungry zombies.  They have two different shades of grey because I painted half, then the other half, and didn’t keep the same grey for the base color.  My bad.

The little wooden blocks (yellow fish, orange carrots, red bricks etc) are markers that each player places when they have searched a room.  In Zombicide, each player can only search a room once.  This can get confusing.  So I purchased a marker set with about 10 different markers, and each player keeps one set of markers.  They place it when they have searched the room.  Presto, one less thing to try to remember.

Toxic Fatty in your space?  Meh, I got this.

Well, Bill almost didn’t get this.  He tried, and tried, and tried to kill things, but his dice rolled poorly.  He even switched out dice.

Toward the end of the game, things got bad for Shari and Bill.  Everyone else beat feat out, but Shari and Bill were having problems.  They were surrounded.

Here is another shot.  of the conflagration of zombies.

Things were getting really bad.  Most of the party had escaped.  Except… Eric, who killed Wanda.  You see, Eric forgot the victory conditions of the scenario.

  • Open all of the doors
  • Everyone must survive
  • Each party member must have at least one of the following:
    • Can of food
    • Bottle of water
    • Sack of rice
    • Plenty of ammo card
  • Make it to the exit

And another shot of the mass of zombies following Shari out.

And one adjusted for more visual interest.

In the end, everyone had a good time, even Eric, who is not pictured here, since he killed Wanda.

Call of Cthulhu – Terror From The Skies Episode 07



I am leading off this blog post with a sad, but heartfelt thank you to the life of Adam West.  He died this morning at the age of 88.


I grew up watching reruns of Batman.  Adam West has always been my favorite Batman.  Thank you for the memories.

The party continued on from last week.  They were battered, bruised and in general, not in great shape.  They realized that their only lead was to continue on to talk to Professor Benjamin Graham at Durham University.

This is where the adventure shows itself.  The Shan are on a timeline.  The party needs to keep up.  If they don’t follow closely, the Shan get farther ahead, and more powerful.  The party needs to simultaneously keep up… and have a couple of weeks to heal.  They are battered.  Their sanity is significantly affected.  Their bodies have been messed with.

The Doctor has a healing spell, but using that spell uses 12 magic points, which is pretty much all that he has… more importantly, he loses one sanity every time that he uses the spell.  He is down to less than 30 sanity… which means that he is more likely to lose it in a big way.  The Doctor also has a permanent malady, where he loses it completely and must fight any flying monsters.  That is not a great thing for the party.

The Romani has burned all his luck, or almost all of it.  He can restore some luck each session, however, the Romani player is very able to roll 1’s on his d8 to restore luck.

The Skientist in pants is doing well, for now… more on that later.

The actor has been attacked by star vampires, and is severely weakened in strength.  The blood loss by star vampire bleeding the strength is brutal.

The nurse started out with the highest sanity, but got hammered with an unsuccessful try at the healing spell.  She is still going strong, but she found another spell, Voorish Sign, which she likes… a lot…, but that is slowly sapping her sanity.

The Irish rogue is doing quite well.  But that is because the player missed a few sessions.  Matt came back this week, and his relatively balanced, normal character now is a super power compared to the other players who are battered and beaten.

The dilettante is doing well.  She has kept out of the fray for the most part.  Flashing her boobs and drinking is doing well for her.  ** Dear reader, that is what Jason does with the character, not my input here **

The “art dealer” is doing well… for now.  But lust will affect him in a big way soon, as in this adventure.

So the party takes another bus from the horrific crash near Ugthorpe to Durham University.  Thankfully, the bus ride is uneventful.  Nobody has any nightmares, nobody tries to stab the passengers, and best of all, the bus driver does not get up and leap out of the bus while it is moving.

That does not mean that the bus ride is comfortable or restive.


While this bus looks quaint and pretty, buses from this era have truck suspensions, and hard seats.  Likely something like this:


A long bus trip on semi-primitive roads… Oh, my aching back, hips, knees, feet, elbows, and sciatic nerves.

Sciatica 8_edited_0

And you thought that modern airline seats were uncomfortable?

So the party arrives in Durham, and in short order, they find Durham University.  It isn’t much of an effort really.  The Doctor went to Cambridge, and this is a lesser university after all, so navigation to this lower place of learning is easy from the Doctor’s perspective.

They find the Bursar’s office.  The Bursar is full of himself.  He attempts to put the others into their place, after all, they are not even students of Durham.  Little does he know, the doctor is from Cambridge, and is unaffected by the slights that the Bursar leaves for the rest of the party.  The Bursar is very offended by the Skientist.  She is an educated woman, in science… and she wears pants.  This takes about all of the the little reserve that the Bursar has, to not throw her out.

In the end, the Bursar does make himself feel better, after all, the Doctor did graduate from Cambridge, but the doctor only has an MD and two PhD’s (in science).  The Bursar is a man of letters in the arts.  Having advanced studies in the arts, of course is much more interesting and noteworthy than any silly “advanced” studies in medicine or science.

And, let’s not forget that the party looks pretty scraggly at this point.  They are bruised, battered, and their clothes are worse for the wear.  No self respecting Durham man would show up in this condition asking for help.  Let’s not forget that all the Doctor wanted was to know where he could find Professor Graham.  It is a minor thing, but the Cambridge man did need assistance from the Durham man.  Scandalous.  Third university, indeed.

The party goes to Professor Graham’s office.  They knock on the door, and he calls out from inside “come”.  They party enters the small, cramped office.  the office has stacks of books, notes and papers.  It is a jumbled mess.  Professor Graham is stuffy and a little full of himself.  He is disturbed when the party tells him the story so far.  It is disturbing that all of these things are happening to good people.

Professor Graham doesn’t know anything about the Shan, or any of the other mispronunciations of the other things that the party asks about.

Professor Graham is a historian of British Pagan Worship. He comes across as trustworthy but stuffy and introverted. This makes him fairly isolated, and he is used to people being bored with him,

He knows something of the cult of Azathoth but assures them, as he did with both Elliot and Seth, that it died out a long time ago. It was a cult of great antiquity, pre-roman, and it was replaced by a series of other pre-Christian faiths. He believes that it was concentrated in the South-East of the country, but the only specific place name he knows is associated with it is Lilla Howe, which he also gave to Seth. He tries to convince them that anyone practicing the cult’s rituals now or in the recent past (by this he means the past couple of centuries) has invented them, not unlike the modern druids at Stonehenge; all very silly and sad. He knows nothing of any real revival of the cult, except the things Elliot told him, and he didn’t really believe them.

He is saddened by the news of Elliot’s death but it won’t change his mind.

When the skientist mentions the name Azazel, however, he is startled, as it is also the name of a student group in Durham. He points them in the direction of the Student Representative Council, where they can make enquiries. He believes it is some sort of history society, but isn’t sure as he doesn’t associate with students outside of lectures and tutorials

The Durham Colleges Students’ Representative Council, on the Palace Green, is the best place to find out about student societies. Professor Graham gives them directions.

In the entryway is a notice board giving various society activities. The party notices information on the board about two society meetings. The first is the Music Society, for eight o’clock tonight in the Church across the road from the Cathedral.  A closer look reveals that it is a local, rather than student, society.

The “arts dealer” is reminded of the musicians at Bloody Beck.  He is not sure what the connection is, but he feels that there must be a connection.

The second meeting is for the Azazel, tomorrow night at seven, in the nearby Buffalo’s Head Pub on Saddler Street. Both notices say all are welcome.

The skientist notices something odd also.  It is summer.  It seems odd that there are things going on at the university during summer.  Most of the students should be gone.

There are about 20 people at the meeting. The party recognize two cultists from the Bloody Beck.  They are a flautist and a drummer, and they are not interested in singing.

The music goes on for a while.  It is poorly played baroque music.  The Romani and Irishman go to find liquor at a pub.  The rest of the party stick around.  After the end of the music recital, The flautist, Jasmine, invites the party back to her room. Jasmine’s is in the castle keep,   As soon as the Doctor, Nurse and arts dealer are in the room, Jasmine starts undressing.  Naked, then Jasmine invites the rest for casual sex.  At this point, Summer, the real wife of Daron, (Summer is the Nurse character, Daron is the Doctor), well, Summer disappeared.  Not sure if she was getting a soda, or what.  The Doctor decided not to partake, but while Jasmine and the art dealer were getting it on, in full view of the Doctor, the Doctor decided to check out the room.

To the dismay, or maybe delight of the arts dealer, the sex was completely mechanical and full of lust.  There was no passion.  It was something that was animalistic, more like pigs rutting than passionate lovemaking.

The doctor realizes that Jasmine’s room is not typical student rooms either. They are too sterile and clinically well-organized; While the grunting, sweating and moaning was going on in the background, the Doctor realizes that the room is arranged more in the fashion of an office than a living space. He sees a calendar note for a midnight choir practice in the Cathedral in two days’ time.

About the time that the art dealer and Jasmine is done rutting, Summer comes back to the table and asks “what happened?”  To which Daron said… “I will tell you later on the car ride home”.


This Azazel student group caters for those interested in the history of Durham in general, and its cathedral in particular. They are especially keen on the more esoteric aspects, such as the “square built” pillars and geometrical relationships.

The Buffalo’s Head Pub is quite full when they arrive. The barman tells them that the meeting is taking place in an upstairs room. There are a couple of dozen people present.

When the socializing is over and everyone is sitting down, Amelia Carter stands up and welcomes everyone, including nonmembers. She introduces a guest speaker, Professor Mark Hooke. He is an expert on the geometry of English cathedrals and is quite genuine. He talks for some time, then asks for questions. All in all, the meeting takes about two hours. Once again, the Irishman and the Romani leave and find a pub.  The arts dealer sits down next to his new squeeze, Jasmine.  She is a little cold and distant, but doesn’t move away.

At the end of the lecture, Professor Hooke offers a tour of the Cathedral, giving access to areas not normally open to the public. The tour will continue after this meeting.


Amelia approaches each of the female characters, and talks with them individually.  Eric, the Romani notices that only the female characters are being talked to individually by Amelia, but I point out to him that he is in the bar / pub, and nowhere near.


Somehow, magically, the Romani and Irishman come back in time for the tour.  Not sure how that happened, but it was fortuitous.  Maybe.



The tour happens right after the Azazel Society meeting. Quite a crowd has gathered at least twenty people, not all from the society. A Cathedral official meets them at the main door, under the famous knocker. The tour takes them around the upper levels, up spiral staircases, through doors to walkways high above the ground, under the stained glass and finally down into a part of the undercroft. They are repeatedly warned to be careful, as some of the walkways are narrow and have no safety barriers. Potential cover and places to hide can be seen by anyone making a special Idea roll. Part of the way through, Amelia suddenly leaves the group.  Only the dilettante sees Amelia disappear.  She appears to walk into a pillar.  Pretty much like Harry Potter, and Platform 9 3/4.


The Dilettante isn’t sure if she actually observed Amelia disappear, or what.  She doesn’t bring it to the attention of the rest of the party.

This is where things get bad.  When the party is on one of the overhead walkways, you know, the ones without any handrails, that the party was told to be careful on… well, she pushes the arts dealer off.  He falls 30-ft, to the hard stone floor.  Luckilly for him, he only takes minimal damage because he was fleet footed.  The arts dealer sees the look on Jasmine’s face, which is one of complete uninterest, almost vapid in appearance as she watches the arts dealer fall to the ground.

Then things get bad.  Well, not yet, but pretty soon.

The tour goes bonkers.  Four people are missing, Amelia, the Flautist (Jasmine), the drummer (an un-named character), and another person.  Also, one person has fallen thirty feet to the ground.

The nurse decides to make the voorish sign.  Another sanity point lost!  She is hoping that this will result in her being able to see someone who is invisible.  Now, technically, no one is invisible, but I don’t want to make her lose sanity (her choice to use the spell) without any benefit.  So tell her that she sees a glowing palm sized area about head height on a column nearby.  The nurse goes forward and touches it.  She expects something exciting to happen.  Nothing does.  She feels a breeze blowing out of the column.  This is odd, since the column is solid stone.  She puts her hand at where the breeze is coming out, and her hand passes through the stone, while her hand is on the blowing part of the stone.  Luckily for her, she doesn’t take her right hand off the glowing part of the stone while she puts her left hand into the stone column.

She points out to the other party members that this appears to be a hidden passage.  The Irishman goes forward, and smacks solidly into the stone face of the pillar.  This appears to be some sort of sick nursing joke on Irishmen.

The party figures out that the person touching the invisibly glowing spot needs to be the one going through.  They can’t have one person touching the spot with others going through.

The party leaves via the stone “door”, and finds themselves on a rough cut stairway.  The stairway is completely dark, and each tread has different lengths of steps and different heights of steps.  The geometry doesn’t work either.  They walked through a 4-ft X 4-ft stone pillar and they are now at the top of a stairwell with an apparently unlimited room in size and height.

The party slowly goes down the stairs. It is dark, and the stairs are very hard to navigate.  As they get to the bottom of the stairs, they are attacked by four shans. The party can see them, as they glow slightly.

Things go bad here.  I won’t get into all of the details, but, the general thinking in Call of Cthulhu is that if you see a monster, you need to run.

This simple flow chart tells you everything you need to know about how to deal with monsters in Call of Cthulhu.


Note that any situation where you interact with the monster results in “You Poor Bastard”.

But in this case, the party decided to engage, and eventually split the party.

The party figured out pretty quick that even when they hit the shan, the shan had nasty amounts of damage reduction, so they didn’t even scratch it unless they did at least 10 damage with a single attack.  This meant that it was time to bravely run away.

In the long run, the Romani crawled away and found the exit, tumbling down stairs taking more damage, and falling through another weird door, falling out into a grassy area where cultists were dancing and singing while circling a glowing pyramid.

Soon thereafter, the Irishman followed.  They were beaten, bedraggled, and pretty much done for the day.

Next the art dealer, the skientist and the dilettante decided to split the party and go back up the stairway, hoping that they would be able to get back to where they started.  The Shan’s attacked and knocked out the skientist.  The art dealer was trying to carry the skientist up the stairs.  The dilettante was busy trying to get back through the door they came through, but couldn’t figure it out.

The doctor and the nurse were left out in the open.  The doctor was being attacked by flying monsters.  This meant that he lost his shit and started attacking.  His shotgun skills were not holding up to his crappy rolls.  The nurse pulled him along, and the shan mercilessly attacked.  Eventually, the nurse dragged the doctor along and fell down the stairs.  They landed in a lump on top of the Irishman and the Romani, knocked out.

Now the problems started.

The skientist (in pants) was given a single hit point back, as she received some first aid.  The skientist, the dilettante and the art dealer decide to make it for the exit rest of the party went out.

Now, I don’t want to pick on any specific players.  When a monster attacks a group, I base the attacks on one of several possibilities:

  • Has one player become a major threat to the monster(s) over the last few combat rounds?
  • Did one particular player just do some major damage to the monster(s) gaining the monster(s) attention?
  • Is one player doing something that gains the attention of the monster(s)?
    • The only one holding a lantern in the dark
    • The only one yelling
    • The only one running away
    • You get the idea
  • Is the monster(s) currently engaged with one specific individual
  • If not, then roll randomly as to which monster will attack

In this case, the four flying shan’s were looking for anything juicy.  They randomly attacked the skientist.  One shan did 28 damage on her, while she had only one hit point left.  She was cut to pieces.  It was bad.

The dilettante was attacked and the art dealer dragged the body of the dilettnante to the stairway out, and landed outside on the grass, knocked out.

Things were bad.  Things got worse.

  • One party member is dead.
  • Four party members are knocked out
  • Two party members are extremely weakened, and they are right in front of the cultists dancing naked around a glowing pyramid at night.

What could possibly go wrong?

Zombicide Episode 06


So last Saturday, we played Zombicide.  I was pretty excited, since Zombicide Green Horde was Kickstarting.   I mean, who could say no to zombie orcs?


And there is a new trebuchet!  And  giant zombie dragon!  And a ballista!

And this…


I also needed a short break from running RPG’s.  I love running RPG’s, but sometimes, I need a break.  Running RPG’s is fun.  But depending on the game, it can take a lot of time to prep for.  I find that Call of Cthulhu usually requires that I read the adventure at least twice before running it.  CoC adventures can be written well, but there is a lot of undercurrent and subterfuge, let alone understanding the nature of what is going on.  Generally I need to spend about 1 1/2 to 2 times the session tome for CoC just prepping for the session.  The sessions are very nuanced, and the lore needs some review.  The particular adventure I am running on Thursdays, Terror From the Skies is a Chaosium publication, which should make it easy to run, but it isn’t.  The stats, and other information don’t fit into either the CoC 6 or CoC 7 rules.  There are missing elements, such as all of the magic spells that are described in the adventure don’t appear in any of the CoC books that I own, which include versions 5.6, 6 and 7.  The adventure is missing enough information that it requries some time looking up info on the Interwebs to fill in the gaps, or finding something that is close enough that I can keep the game running.

CoC also tends to have an intertwined plot which requires a lot of understanding of the entire adventure.  You can run a standard dungeon crawl by simply keeping a paragraph in front of where the party is.   Oh, they are going down the hallway that goes to rooms 45 and 46.  I better read those two room’s descriptions pretty quick before they get there.  Hmm… This looks complicated.  Let me throw some stirges or maybe a few ghouls at them in the hallway while I read the adventure text.

CoC requires that you study the adventure.  CoC adventures are amazing cool, but also are quite often amazingly poorly written.  The information is not linear, requires a lot of reading back and forth, and cross referencing with other chapters in the same book, possibly in other books.

D&D is more straight forward to run.  Same with DCC.  Sometimes, I need a change.  I love playing Zombicide, since we all get to try to live.

Speaking of Zombicide, I got a coupon for $5 off any Prime eligible package.  So I went onto Amazon and looked online Friday night.  I found Zombicide Angry Neighbors for something like $36.  By the time I applied the coupon paid for tax and ordered it, the game supplement cost me just about $36 for a game supplement that would normally cost me at least $60 at my FLGS.

Now, I am big into supporting FLGS.  I typically don’t buy things through Amazon, unless I can’t get them at my FLGS.  Amazon is nice, but every time I spend money at Amazon, I don’t get to support the game stores where I play the games.

The elements of the equation is simple for me.

No FLGS means:

  • I need to clean the house to have people over to play at my house
  • Same for the bathroom
  • Same for the kitchen
  • I probably need to do some yardwork

Oh yeah, where am I going to see new things, and be able to talk with people about games if I don’t have an FLGS nearby?  I get it, there is the tubes of the Interwebs.  I could go onto chat rooms, search sites, etc.  But, if I know a person who has similar interests, and I can bounce ideas off him or her, then I can decide if I want to try something new.  Maybe, I can look at the game components in real life before I invest a cool C note into the game.

Molly, my wife loves shopping online.  I wanted to purchase some slacks last weekend.  I wear slacks for work.  I have specific feel that I am going for in the slacks that I wear.  I like the material to be a very specific way.  Molly just wants to order things from or   I know that the stores won’t have the same selection as the online version of the same store has, but I want to touch the fabric, I want to look at the pockets…  I don’t get that from online purchases.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, So I usually only buy games from the FLGS.  Sometimes, I will order stuff on Amazon, or NobleKnight games.  I am a sucker for Kickstarter, which does not help my FLGS at all.

Kickstarter is probably the nail in the coffin for the FLGS.  There are a limited type of things on Kickstarter.

There is the Cool Mini or Not, where they generate millions of dollars for a new board game.  The problem with this is that while they get thousands of people to back the project, which essentially funds the entire project with no risk to the company.  This is genius.  They take a game that they would sell at $100, and add some extra sculpts which cost them pennies to produce, maybe less.  Then they charge us shipping on top.  So we feel awesome that we are getting some cool stuff for $100 plus shipping.  All of the funds go to the manufacturer.  Now the same game will sell for $100 at the FLGS.  The FLGS will pay around $50 for the game to the warehouse.  The warehouse buys the game for $25 or $30 from the manufacturer.  QED, the manufacturer gets three to four times their normal payout for each box… and they charge for shipping… for just giving us some extra plastic pieces that are “unique”.  This means that CMON or whatever company is able to bankroll the entire production of the game at no risk to themselves, along with likely using the Kickstarter funding to bankroll the extra shipping containers that they are having made to sell on Amazon, Target, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and the FLGS.

It is a brilliant business strategy.

The second type is the Call of Cthulhu, non Paizo Pathfinder, non WOTC D&D (Green Ronin Games, Frog God Games and Goodman Games) style Kickstarter projects.  They follow closely to the CMON style, but there is a big difference.  These games have limited appeal.  This means that most of the people who want the “Primeval Thule” D&D 5E book will probably buy it on the Kickstarter.  There is very little desire beyond the small number of people buying it via a Kickstarter pledge.

Troll Lord Games (Amazing Adventures, Castles and Crusades) are the worst of these.  The Troll Lord Games stuff is amazing.  The problem with them is that they Kickstart a lot of stuff, then apparently have a glut of product on their shelves.  Instead of pushing it out to try to get the FLGS running their games, they send out emails and Facebook posts saying “We are having a huge stale… buy our stuff at 33% off, or in some cases 50% off).  This undercuts the FLGS entirely.    Troll Lord takes the Kickstarter to the next level.  When they decide to create their next print run of books, they kickstart it again, where they talk about how their 7th edition players handbook will have a new cover, and a few of the errata are incorporated into the book…  It is also a brilliant business strategy where they undercut the FLGS, and get the crowdsource system to pay all of their bills up front.

Troll Lord is not unique.  Frog God does it.  To an extent Modiphius does it.  So does Pinnacle Entertainment Group.  Modiphius and PEGinc don’t do the massive discounts that you see with Frog God and Troll Lord.  But PEGinc does do it by offering the free PDF for the book if you purchase the book at full price online, or if you Kickstart the product.

I prefer the Bits and Mortar approach

If you buy the game at a FLGS, you can get the PDF for free.

Anyhow, the third type of Kickstarter is the type where you have a person or group who put out something small and interesting.  They are making a small run of a product, and maybe it will end up on something like DrivethruRPG with a POD option.  These likely would not be able to be published in any other way.

Kickstarter will be the death of FLGS, most likely because in many cases, the entire interest will be fed by the campaign, and everyone who wants the product will not want it from the FLGS, or they will buy it on POD from RPGnow or DrivethruRPG.

Does that mean that I won’t back Kickstarter?  Nope.  I am a sucker.

I do buy everything I can from Roy, the owner of the FLGS.  If Roy can’t get it, then I will look at Amazon, Miniature Market,  or maybe even Ebay.

So what started this diatribe?  Oh yeah, me feeling slightly guilty at buying a Zombicide expansion from Amazon.  I checked, Roy did not have it in stock.  I also checked at a couple of other game stores in the area.  Nobody had it in stock, so I wasn’t taking a direct sale from an FLGS.  I know that I could have ordered it through my FLGS, but I had a coupon.

I hope that won’t count against me in the Karma thing.

Anyhow, we got together last Saturday to play some Zombicide.  I wanted a break from running RPG’s.  We are still playing Zombicide game scenarios from the base book. We haven’t gotten into the compendium books yet.

Things started out easily enough.  We need to uncover each of the red X objective tokens and get out.  That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Here are some of the minis ready to play.

At this point, there are three types of minis on the board.  There are always the walkers, runners, fatties and abominations.

The bases mean something.  There are grey bases.  They are from the base Zombicide box.

The green bases are the spurty type of zombies, where they need to be killed via ranged weapons, since they will spew goo and cause damage.  They are from the Prison Outbreak game.  I don’t have the Prison Outbreak game, but I got a box of the zombies to go with.

The red bases are for the armored zombies which must be killed via melee.

I haven’t painted them yet, but there are also zombie dogs, VIP zombies (will have blue bases), and seekers (will have black bases).

The best part of all of this is that the game gets really complicated.  Instead of just killing everything, the party needs to make some tough choices.  What needs to happen in what order to keep people from dying?

The door is opened, and some fetching zombie horde pops up.  This creates a bit of a problem.

Josh is not getting the best end of this deal.

Things are getting bad.

Some spares ready to help out with the action

We are hoping for a few Molotov cocktails.

Herding them into a single space to help destroy as many as possible.

AAAND, Collin gets out, alive.  He has a special message for everyone.

Now, I am off to paint more minis…

Call of Cthulhu – Terror From The Skies Episode 06


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We played Call of Cthulhu last Thursday.  Continuing on with the previous session and storyline.

I am going to try to make this a quick and short post, since I want to spend time today painting minis.  I am in the middle of painting minis for FFG’s DOOM base box.

Here are the Possessed Soldiers.  I am not really happy with the minis.  They are very detailed, but they are overly busy.


They have been based, ink washed and then some detail applied.  I am completely ambivalent about them.  They just don’t speak to me.  I can’t explain why, just that they are not moving me.  I get the idea that they are possessed soldiers, but I don’t really like the sculpts.  I will work on them some more.


Some Imps in progress.  They have been based, inked and drybrushed.  Need a lot more work.


Another view of the Imps.  Quarter for size comparison.


I like the Cacodemon’s a lot.  These guys aren’t flying, like I remember in Doom.  I don’t remember them having legs, much less being quadrupedal, but I like them.  These guys are works in progress.  I have base painted them, and done an ink wash.  They need a lot more TLC.

As per usual, the quarter is in front for some scale of mini.


One of my favorites, the Revenant.  I like these guys.  They make me happy.  Well, keep in mind that my position is based on the fact that I will likely be running the game.


Some Pinky’s.  These guys have been base coated and inkwashed.  I need to do a lot more work on them,.


Another view of the Pinky’s.


I am hoping for a series of expansions to the game.  After all, there are a lot of potential scultps to add.  Hopefully, the expansions will include some more player options, as in more than 5 player mode.

Maybe, just maybe, there will be some nods to Quake, or Duke Nukem?


I have not started painting the heroes, Cyberdemon, Mancubus or the Baron from Hell yet.  There are only so many hours in the day.  And some of them involve making coffee.  Before any of the players get too excited, I have a lot of other minis to pain, and my ADHD does not allow me to paint one set to completion.  I need to go and paint other stuff also.  This is why I am only partially through my Descent 2nd Edition minis (actually, I am mostly through the monsters, but I have yet to start painting any of the heroes).  Same deal with Mansions of Madness 1st Edition.  I am much farther along with my Zombicide minis.  I have to paint a bunch of the survivors, and the VIP’s.

So where was I?  Oh yeah, I have to write this blog post about last Thursday’s adventure in Call of Cthulhu, then post something about yesterday’s Zombicide game.

The party got together last Thursday, and continued on their adventure.  They arrived back at Hob Lea, and found that Seth was in a different mood.  Seth dismissed all of the things that the party said happened.  This seemed odd, since the last time they met with Seth, he was an active participant in the conspiracy theories.  Now, he said things like:

  • It’s all just superstition and a waste of time.
  • The information he gave them was just a hoax;  Hah, fooled you!
  • The ceremony they saw was some re-enactment society, performed in the woods at night to avoid embarrassment.
  • Disappearing dancers, emerging insects indeed. Hadn’t they just spent all night at the pub?
  • He is thinking of selling up and moving, perhaps abroad, for the sake of his health.
  • He is giving up this fallacious research anyway and will burn all his books and papers.

This all seems odd to the party, since they are convinced that Seth was a believer, and now he has completely changed his mind.  They try psychology rolls, and don’t do well.

This is where the role play in Call of Cthulhu is a little hard.  Seth was supposed to persuade (via a persuade roll) that he was right.  I have never been comfortable with this part of the CoC game play.  The party knows what they saw.  They were involved in it.  They took psychic and real damage.  And somehow, they could be persuaded that all the wounds they took along with what they saw would be tossed aside by a simple persuade roll?  I can get that he could make a persuade roll against a psychology roll to convince the other player that he is on the level.  But to try to persuade the other player that all the things that he experienced didn’t occur, without some form of electroshock therapy?  It doesn’t work for me.

Finally, Seth storms off to his bedroom.  The nurse and the Romani follow.  They follow Seth into his bedroom, and he demand that they leave.  The nurse says that she is worried about Seth, since he seems so different.  He laughs, and says, you should worry about this..  and he pulls a vial out of his pocket and smashes it on the floor, to which a swirling vortex opens up, and a Star Vampire comes out.

It gets pretty ugly.  Before someone thinks to shoot Seth, he ends up pulling out two more vials, and two more star vampires come out.  Things get ugly.  The party arrives, and fights.  The star vampires end up doing some heavy damage, knocking three of the party members completely out…  The doctor, gets drilled to less than 0 hit points, and loses 5 strength points.  The Romani gets knocked out, and loses a bunch of strength.  The actor gets the worst of it.  He gets knocked to less than 0 HP, and goes to 0 strength.  The loss of strength is due to blood drain.

Eventually, the party kills the three star vampires, and Seth is immobilized by being shot.

The party needs time to heal.  With the Doctor out, the nurse tries to read the Heal spell.  It doesn’t go well.  She fails miserably, and ends up screaming in terror, running from the Hob Lea house.  She comes to 5 hours later, robbed of everything she had.  Magic is not something that you want to mess with.  She also took 10 sanity damage from misreading (or maybe it was reading?) the spell.

After several days of rest, the party decides to go back to London.  They get on the bus, and leave Ugthorpe.  Now the party failed their spot hidden rolls, so they were not warned about the steep road.  The road that was so steep that the bus barely could make it up the road…

Well the road going out is still steep, only it is steep down instead.  As the bus starts down the steep downhill section of the road, the bus driver stands straight up, opens the door and jumps out.

Everyone is shocked, to say the least.  The bus is freewheeling down the lane and no one is driving.  The bus starts to bounce, and careen around the road.  Unperturbed,  Jeremy goes up and tries to drive the bus.  He makes his first drive  roll, and doesn’t flip the bus.  But then things get bad.

Two of the bus riders (not of the party) start stabbing the party members with knives.  One stabby stabby guy hits the actor.  Luckily for the actor, he only does one damage.  It is only a flesh wound.  Things get bad then.  Jeremy fails the drive roll, and the brakes fail.  The brake pedal goes all the way to the floor without anything else happening.  Jeremy bravely jumps off the bus, taking limited damage.

The nurse knows what to do  She tries to drive the bus.  Well, she tries to get to the driver seat.  The dilettante gets to the area right by the driver seat, near the door.  This is where our true expert in all things Britain prevails, and tells me that I have drawn the bus as though it was in the US, not the UK.  The door is on the wrong side of the bus.  Damn.  I quickly redraw the door to make Daron happy.

The nurse fails her dex roll, and is unable to make it to the front of the bus.  The two stabby stabby guys are killed outright by gunfire.  The nurse finally makes it to the front of the bus.  Just about this time, some of the party members realize that they are moving at a very high rate of speed towards a swing bridge which is open.  The nurse fails her drive roll, and the steering wheel comes off in her hands, where she realizes that she is headed for a crash with a long steel spiky pointy thing right in front of her.  Only the wheel comes off, the shaft is still there.

Several party members bail off the bus.  They take pretty significant damage.  The actor and the romani are not able to get off the bus, but they improvise crash cushions.  The actor takes the corpse of the stabby stabby person and places it in front of him, hoping that will reduce the damage to him.  The Irishman uses the near dead body of Seth.

The dilettante times her jump off the bus just as it goes off the road into the water.  She skips several times on the water, then sinks in.  The bus goes front end into the water, leaving the two remaining party members with their corpse-cushions out of the water.

That was the entire session.  They had some epic battle time, and a difficult issue to resolve.. how to survive a bus crash.

More next week.

Tales from the Yawning Portal Episode 05


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So we had no game on last Thursday.  Most of the normal group went off camping for the long weekend, and two members went extra early to set up camp. They have asked me several times if I wanted to go.  They finally gave up, when they realized that I did not like camping.

You see, I loved camping when I was a kid.  My family went all over the place, and camped.  We had tents, camp stoves, sleeping bags…  We went out to beautiful places and sat in the woods.  It was…. boring.  I couldn’t bring my bicycle (which I loved).  I couldn’t watch TV.  You see, the programs I wanted to watch were on Saturday.  The Saturday afternoon lineup was like this:

  • Noon to 2 PM – monster movie of the week
  • 2 PM – In Search Of, with Leonard Nemoy
  • 3 PM – Twilight Zone
  • 3:30 PM – Twilight Zone
  • 4 PM – Space 1999
  • 5 PM – Star Trek

I mean who wants to go and look at a lake, or a stream, or maybe a few trees, when you have this type of lineup of amazing entertainment?  I could give up the Bugs Bunny / Road Runner show on Saturday morning, but camping got in the way of watching that amazing set of shows.

Now don’t tell me that they were all in reruns, so I could have caught them another time.  Pish Posh.  You just don’t understand.

My parents liked motorcycle camping.  You know, put everything on a motorcycle, not a car or van.  So we were camping minimalists.  My parents also had the amazing ability to select the worst weather to camp in.  I remember lots of rain, and occasional a windstorm.

Flash forward to middle and high school.  My parents graduated to a camper shell mounted on the back of a truck.  That wasn’t so bad.  They got to sleep in a queen sized bed over the truck cabin.  My brother and I traded off sleeping on the floor and on a very short couch that doubled as the eating area.  This was better, sleeping on the floor had problems.  If anyone wanted to go out at night to water the trees, then you were stepped on.  It doesn’t matter how careful the person was, they were always able to step on the person sleeping on the floor.  My parents graduated to driving to hot places for their camping also.  Bleh.  I don’t care for hot places.  The water invariably tastes bad, and there are things like snakes and big spiders.

Also during middle and high school, I was in the boy scouts.  That meant that one weekend a month we had to go camping.  Now boy scout camping has some sort of Norman Rockwell sort of charm to it, or at least it is supposed to.  We would pack everything we needed into a large rucksack, and tromp into the woods.  Eventually, we would find a place to set up camp and sit and look at the trees.  OK, we would learn important things like how to make nettle soup, how to tie knots, what parts of the cedar tree can be eaten (yes, the bark can be eaten).  But ultimately, we younger scouts would wait until the older scouts would become bored, and then the inevitable “throw the kid in the lake” would occur.  Usually, the adults would go off to their own campsite, and do whatever adults do (except for watch the kids).  Then the clique of older scouts, who also happened to be the clique at the high school of the football varsity players and the same clique at the high school of the wrestling varsity players (same people), and they would get drunk off their asses with moonshine, and then hilarity would ensue.

I have a vivid memory of one particular scout bringing out moonshine that his dad made.  You see, they also brought out garbage bags of aluminum cans.  They created a huge bonfire, and melted the aluminum cans down to ingots.   It can be done.  It was one mother freaking hot fire.  So while the older scouts were melting down aluminum, they were getting shitfaced.  Then the fun started.  One newly minted Eagle Scout started explaining his prowess in pleasuring women, in graphic terms.  Now I was 12, and didn’t know anything about sex.  I had seen a woman’s boobs in a movie, and that was about it.  But he had explicit detail, which seemed oddly out of character, as he was probably the dumbest, ugliest, dirtiest (as in dirt) dipshit that I had ever seen.  Now, as an adult, I believe that he got most of his carnal “knowledge” from reading letters to the editor from Hustler magazine, and watching a bad porn video cassette, but when I was 12, it was godly information.  I am pretty sure that if I ever actually tried anything he said to do, I would have been laughed out of the bedroom.

Then another older scout had a real problem.  He was trying to show off his prowess with his penis.  He found a board with a knothole in it, and proceeded to stick his junk through the knothole and then pretended to fuck it… in front of everyone.  This was disturbing to say the least, but in the end, he got a bunch of splinters and slivers in his junk, and he needed to go to the hospital later that week because it got infected.  Life lesson at 12.  When you get drunk on moonshine, you might want to have some really good friends who will stop you from hurting yourself, not egg you on.

Then the scout that brought the moonshine decided to do the circus thing, where he blows liquor into the fire.  He didn’t realize that this was an art.  And the people who spray a mouthful of highly flammable liquid onto a torch are (1) trained, (2) in complete control of themselves, (3) have practice at it (4) the list goes on and on.  They are definitely not drunk spitting moonshine into a fire hot enough to melt aluminum cans into ingots from 3 feet away.

So the scout spits the moonshine into the fire… The fireball envelops him.  He pulls back, and he has a serious sunburn over his entire face, his eyebrows are scorched, the front of his mullet is completely burned.  His eyelashes are gone.  Thankfully, he isn’t on fire.  His clothes are smoldering.  In a perfect Jeff Spiccoli impersonation he says “Awesome!” and goes for some more liquor to spit on the fire.

Then they older scouts decide to play “smear the queer”  I am not sure what that game was supposed to be.  It didn’t involve any dice, pencils, paper, nor any known rules. The rules appeared to be a half dozen drunken 17 and 18 year old men exposing themselves randomly to the younger scouts, followed by them trying to catch the younger scouts and pretending to dry hump them.  Evidently, this also involved lots of rebel yells, hooting and hollering.

And things went down hill from there.

So after my first campout, my parents asked me how it went.  I looked at my dad, confused, not sure what I should say, and said “Dad, I don’t want to stay in the Boy Scouts”.  His response was perfect Dadish.  He says “What?  You need to stay in the Boy Scouts!” and then he went on about all of the leadership potential, the opportunities, just like the brochure said.

Now in all fairness to my mom and dad, I was not a motivated kid in school.  I didn’t care.  I scared the hell out of my parents.  My life goal was to be a bicycle mechanic.  Literally,  I wanted to be a bicycle mechanic. Not own a bike store.  I just wanted to work on bicycles.  I had potential, but I didn’t care.  They were desperate for any way to get me to realize my potential, not to be a bicycle mechanic.  So they insisted in me continuing in scouts.

I didn’t know how to explain to my dad that my desire to leave the scouts had nothing to do with not being an achiever, rather, it had to do with being shocked and scared by the lord of the flies experience that I had endured that weekend.  I couldn’t tell him what I had seen.  As an adult, looking back, I am sure that if I had told my dad, he would have taken my story up with the adults who were there, and found a way to change the situation.  He is a good and moral man.  He would never stand for that type of thing.  That being said, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him what I had seen.  So I asked him to come with me on the next campout.  He declined, saying he had other things to do, after all, this was an experience for me to have.

Now in all fairness to the scouts, being in the boy scouts did help me define who I wanted to be.  I saw the ridiculous antics of the older scouts, and decided right then and there, that I was not going to be like that.  Their behavior offended me at a very basic level.  I was not one of the in-crowd in the troop.  I didn’t agree with their antics, and didn’t like them.  That made me an outcast.  As time went on, the antics of the 17 and 18 year olds transferred on to the next group of 17 year olds, as some of the older scouts kept on after they turned 18 and the traditions continued.

I was not a conformer.  I still am not.  I didn’t like the type of behavior that was on full drunken display that weekend.  It offended me.  I am a big guy.  I was a big kid.  I have presence.  So I started shepherding kids away from the stupid behavior that was at the weekend campouts.

This created problems for me to earn my Eagle Scout badge.  First, in order to become an Eagle Scout, you need to have a “leadership” position for a year. This could be assistant scoutmaster, patrol leader, etc.  Because I didn’t play ball, and I had a group of kids that I kept away from the debauchery, I was persona non gratta.  That meant that none of the older scouts would let me into a leadership position.  So the scoutmaster had to create a leadership position for me, which was… wait for it… “Troop Scribe”.  Whoop defucking doo.

I found the entire thing ridiculous.  I had to take a spiral bound notebook and write down what happened at each troop meeting.  This was not “leadership”, this was what happens when kids are in control, and there is no leadership from the adults who are supposed to be in charge.

Another thing that is required is that prospective eagle scouts are supposed to have a project that is supposed to show their leadership, and give something back to the community.  I selected a project to plant 5,000 evergreen sapling trees around Judy Reservoir, near my hometown.  You see, the hillsides around the reservoir had deciduous trees.  The local PUD cut down the deciduous trees, because the leaves would fall off the trees in the fall, and they would go into the reservoir and the drinking water would be stained.  It was a real problem with clean drinking water.  The PUD cut down the trees with leaves, and needed someone to plant trees without leaves.  That was my Eagle Scout project.  Because I wasn’t one of the “crew”, I got no support from the other older scouts, even though I had helped on their Eagle Scout project.  It ended up that I spent a weekend with some good gaming friends in high school and the other scout outcasts, and we planted the trees.

Am I bitter?  No.  I just don’t value the scouting experience the way that other people do.  My experience was a lesson in perseverance.  It involved me learning that I can continue doing the right thing, even if the management around me is not aligned with what I think are the proper things to d.

Later, as an adult, I ran into the parents of some of the kids that I took under my wing, and the parents thanked me for what I did for their kids.  I stood up to the bullyish behavior of the older kids, and stopped the “Smear the Queer” games.  They went to “Snipe Hunt” instead, which wasn’t much different…

I am sure that the scout troop I was in was an anomaly.  It was not normal.  However, I spent a lot of time in my adulthood, not mentioning the fact that I was an Eagle Scout because I was embarrassed about being a member of a society that openly discriminated against gay people.

The Scout’s Oath was:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

What defines “morally straight”?  Who defines it.

I am not gay.  When I was in high school, I don’t think that I ever met anyone who was openly gay.  Being “gay” was an insult.  If anyone was gay, they kept it buried, deep in side themselves.  I lived in a small town, it was the 1980’s.  The concept of Boy George and his ambiguous sexuality was new, and simultaneously scary and intriguing.

When I went to college, I met openly gay people.  The trite thing to say would be “All I knew about gay people was what the simple minded folk in the small town I grew up in talked about”.  But that isn’t true.  We weren’t simple minded folk.  I just don’t remember it coming up.  OK, when I saw “Deathtrap” in the College Place Triplex theater in 1982, and Christopher Reeve kissed Michael Caine, someone yelled out “Superman is a Fag!” in the theater.


As I said, I am sure that there were gay people in my hometown, but I never observed anything that gave me any hints.  Of course, I was young, and probably wouldn’t have understood it even if I saw it at 14 or 17 years old.  When I got to college, I found people who weren’t like me.  There was a huge variety of people.  I met the first openly gay people, and guess what, they were interesting and I liked being around them as much as I liked being around other people.

But getting back to the Scout’s Oath.  Who defines what morally straight is?  Does a 17 year old scout (who was an eagle scout) fucking a knothole in a board in full view of 15 other scouts constitute morally straight?  How about older scouts exposing themselves to the younger scouts, and chasing them around then pretending to dry hump them?

You would ask “Where were the adults?”  Well, several of the older kids who were part of the clique had parents who were the adults.  Many of them were former Eagle Scouts.  They had a “Boys will be boys” attitude.

So what does any of this have to do with gaming.  Nothing really.  I started talking about camping, and then soon enough, it became blather about other things, like why I dislike camping.  Now, I didn’t get into my experiences in the Army with camping…  But that is for another rant.

So I spent Thursday night home, instead of gaming.  This was followed by a long weekend.  I pulled out the rule books for a game that I have called “Splinter”.  I will probably never play Splinter.  It is a pretty awesome game concept, along the lines of Palladium Rifts.

From the End Transmission Games website:

The infinite megadungeon-cum-arena of the Splinter has no rhyme nor reason – characters exploring the Splinter are just as likely to come upon a Medieval sword, a fantastical clockwork raygun, or a fully automatic shotgun. The Splinter itself is a puzzle, constantly shifting, sometimes before the characters’ very eyes.

OK, it isn’t Rifts.  Nothing is Rifts, except Rifts.  but the idea that anything goes is a pretty cool idea.  The game system is too twitchy for me, but the ideas in the games are really cool.

For example, from the random treasures book, there is Mr. Wubbles.

Mr. Wubbles

One-Use. Thrown “weapon.” Any sentient being within 10 yards of the creature must succeed a Conviction (ST4) Test or stand still and take no actions. Hypnotized characters who take any kind of damage receive another Conviction (ST1) Test to recover from the effect. Characters who fail their saves if not damaged or somehow pulled away will just stare in awe at the wonderful little critter for a week or so until it drops dead.

OK, the stats don’t make much sense unless you know the game system.  But imagine how you could twist this into something good for the game system you are in.  For instance, the party finds this critter in a cage in a magic shop.  The wizard figures out that he can buy it, and float it around using Mage Hand or some such thing, to cause a distraction while the party gets ready to fight, or possibly to occupy the bad guys until they can move around them…

The book “Sometimes Ugly Things” which is kind of a monster manual has a lot of really cool things, like these:

Feral Moss can grow anywhere and, if you don’t burn it off the walls, it grows everywhere. If you don’t get too close to it, it might leave you well enough alone. But get it on your skin… well, there the problems start. It begins by latching on to you, then it begins to suck your blood, drawing it up from your veins and through your pores. That hurts. But, unless you get rid of it soon, Feral Moss is just going to carry on growing. And it is going to do so quickly. As the Moss grows, it draws blood from its host faster and faster and in ever greater quantities, spreading across every inch of flesh until the entire surface of the victim’s body is the colour of tarnished bronze. Once the body of their host is spent, the Feral Moss breaks away, gradually, from the wasted skin and chalky, flaking bone. It scatters itself as widely as possible, clinging on to any suitable surface where it waits, dormant, for the next unsuspecting amateur botanist to give it a new home.

and the Byrozoan Mongrel


who has the following description:

The Byrozoan Mongrel looks utterly horrifying, but really, it’s just an animal. Created by some master creator – perhaps a Silver Sculptor, perhaps not – the Byrozoan Mongrel behaves much like a stray dog. Unlike a dog, however, its muzzle opens into numerous thrashing tentacles, though its body looks like some kind of brown, spotted mutt. It will attack if it feels threatened, but with a successful Animal Handling Test, the Byrozoan Mongrel becomes quite friendly and docile. If a PC spends a long enough time winning its trust, the Byrozoan Mongrel can even be a valuable and loyal companion both in and out of combat. That tentacle mouth might take some getting used to, though.

For some reason, I feel like Mike needs a pet Byrozoan Mongrel…

Then there is whatever the heck this thing is…


Long story short, I have lots of books that are sitting around solely as inspiration for other games.  I doubt that I will be playing Splinter, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t take ideas from this game and drop it into whatever game I am playing.

I love the ideas in Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  It is an OSR clone that is very clean and simple, but vicious to play.  The game doesn’t have the depth of character development that many players want.  It focuses on the obscure,obscene and horrific dungeon crawl.  But the ideas are amazing.  Take the following for instance, from their Free RPG Day game Slugs, from last year

The Doctor Slug:


The stats are amazingly awesome!

The creature’s touch heals any and all injury instantly, but not cosmetically. All hit point and other “rules terminology” damage is recovered, but the appearance of the character before injury becomes the new norm. A character with a compound fracture will heal, but the bone will not reset and the formerly “broken” bone is now the new non-painful skin-penetrating norm, for instance. Cuts, gouges, and other such injuries become set in place and do not mend (although bleeding does stop), bruised areas will remain forever black and blue, and crushed anatomy remains flattened. A sufficiently injured person healed by the Doctor Slüg will resemble the undead with all the unmended, yet healed, catastrophic failure of anatomy.

All within 100’ of the Slüg not suffering from a disease must make a saving throw or contract a random disease (mechanical effects assume a player character patient):

  1. Alzheimer’s: When left alone the character must make a saving throw. Failing this save means the character will simply not do whatever it is she was supposed to do (50%) or wander off in a random direction, believing she is on some long-ago adventure.
  2. Congenital Analgesia: The patient can feel no pain whatsoever. Hit points are kept track of secretly by the Referee, and the amount of any damage taken (or healed!) by the character is never specified.
  3. Diabetes: The character’s diet must be carefully controlled; rations cost three times normal, and any day the character does not have access to these special rations, she must make a saving throw or suffer 1d4 damage.
  4. Epilepsy: Once per session during a stressful situation, the Referee can call for a saving throw; failing means the character suffers a seizure lasting 1d6 rounds and inflicting 1d4 damage.  Seizures may also happen whenever the character sees a magical effect with a visual manifestation of magical energy.
  5. Osteoporosis: All crushing or impact damage uses an additional damage die (so a mace hit would do 2d8 instead of 1d8 damage, a 20’ fall would do 3d6 instead of 2d6 damage). A character encumbered at all is considered encumbered one extra category.
  6. Proteus Syndrome: The character’s body distorts and explodes in strange growths which alter the fundamental profile and proportions of the body. The character will be considered hideous, have her movement rate cut by half, and be unable to wear standard clothing or armor. 50% chance per hand that the hand is useless for grasping.

These diseases (or damage caused by their effects) can only be cured by the Slüg at one specified future time (typically 1d1000+24 hours), which will be understood by the patient. The afflicted must leave the Slüg’s presence and return to the Slüg at the appointed time, within the allotted hour. Arrive early or late, and there will be no healing, and another appointment must be made. Arriving too early or late (over a week in either direction) results in no curing and no further appointment being allowed! Of course the Slüg keeps no regular abode and constantly travels; finding the Slüg for one’s appointment is the problem of the patient.

So, once again, you ask… What does all of this have to do with the game last Saturday?  Nothing.

Saturday started out as it should.  Nice weather, dogs in the back yard.  A good book to read… OK, it wasn’t that good of a book.  It was the novelization of the Van Helsing movie.  The movie is camp.  The book was…  well, it has as many letters as “camp”, three are in common, the c, a and p, but there is another letter in there instead of the m and a few of the letters are rearranged.  Needless to say, the book was nowhere near as fun as the movie.  I should have known, going into it, the movie was pretty limited in its story, but it was fun.  The book, not so much.

But at least there was coffee.  Tasty, coffee.  MMMMMMMMMMM coffee.


After spending the morning with dogs, coffee, and finishing the Van Helsing book, I went to Dice Age to play D&D.  Mike had a birthday earlier that week.  I won’t say how old Mike is, nor what his birthdate is.  I know both, but I don’t want to give out personal information on the web.

As a joke, I thought it would be fun to give Mike a gift.  A gag gift.  I went to Safeway and got Mike a bran muffin, a bag of prunes, and a six pack of prune juice.  I thought it would be funny.  Everyone but Mike thought it was funny.  It turns out, he loves bran muffins, prunes and prune juice.

Mike decided that Collin’s character needed some fun.  He found the postcard of the fetching, lovely ladies and wrote a special message on the back.  He asked me to find an opportune time during the game play to have it come in magically and be delivered to Collin’s character.


The message was highly personal, and even though it probably isn’t good for normal consumption, here it is.


It took a while, but we got Collin to read the message.

So after all this blather, what happened on Saturday?

The party ended the previous week with six tied up goblins.  They decided that they would use them as trap finders.  The monk was lawful good, and would not appreciate the party killing them off needlessly.

The goblins were not too happy about their new status.  They had their bows taken away.  The six goblins were named, and given responsibilities.  They were:

  • Amok – the leader (he had the 7 silver pieces)
  • Bedlam – the HR specialist
  • Gibberish – the IT / web developer
  • Havoc – the chief of production
  • Mayhem – intern / trainee / gopher
  • Racket – communications

So the party decided that they were going to use the goblins as they saw fit.  The problem was that the DM wanted to use the goblins as he saw fit also.  The DM decided that the goblins would essentially be played as genies, but completely useless.  The goblins would do exactly what the humans said, to the letter.  Any colloquialisms would be taken literally.  As in literally.  That caused some issues for the party.

Long story short, Mayhem was pissed.  He had been the flunky in the goblin world, and he was tired of being the flunky.  He was really pissed about being put back into the role of needing to apply for the job he always had.  He wanted to be a full party member.  So the party moved him up to full party status.

There was lots of doublespeak by the party members to the goblins…  Things like:

  • We want to help you redefine the very nature of what’s possible
  • You can bring about positive, permanent shifts in the quality of your life.
  • We can offer you a practical methodology for producing breakthroughs—achievements that are extraordinary, outside of what’s predictable
  • We can help you find a way of learning that gives people an awareness of the basic structures in which they know, think, and act
  • With our help, you will develop awareness comes a fundamental shift that leaves people more fully in accord with their own possibilities and those of others
  • We can help you find a way to be able to think and act beyond existing views and limits—in their personal and professional lives, relationships, and wider communities of interest

The party offered this opportunity to the goblins for a deposit of only 200 gold pieces, and a full payment of 695 gold pieces.

The training will take place over three consecutive days and an evening session (generally Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday evening). Each full day begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at approximately 10:00 p.m. Breaks are approximately every 2-3 hours, with a 90-minute dinner break. The evening session generally runs from 7:00 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. (in certain locations, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.).

Training topics include:

The Vicious Circle:

In the Vicious Circle segment, we suggest that it is a monster tendency to collapse what happened; with the story you tell about what happened. This collapsing happens so fast it becomes hard to separate the two, and you think of them as one and the same. Almost immediately, and certainly over time, the story we tell ourselves becomes the way it is—the reality we know. It limits what is possible in our lives, robbing us of much of our joy and effectiveness.

When you are able to separate what happened from our story or interpretation, we discover that much of what we considered already determined, given and fixed, may in fact not be that way. Situations that may have been challenging or difficult become fluid and open to change. We find ourselves no longer limited by a finite set of options, and able to achieve what we want with new ease and enjoyment.

Rackets – The Payoff and the Cost

In the Rackets segment, we discuss the idea of a racket as an unproductive way of being or acting that includes a complaint that something shouldn’t be the way it is. Often, you don’t notice that while our complaints may seem justified, even legitimate, there is a certain payoff—some advantage or benefit we are receiving that reinforces the cycle of behavior. At the same time, this way of being has steep costs, whether in our vitality, affinity, self-expression, or sense of fulfillment.

By recognizing this pattern, its costs, and how we have been keeping the pattern in place, you have the choice to interrupt the cycle and discover new ways of interacting that lead to new levels of happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment in areas that are most important to us.

Freedom from Anxiety

Consider that one of the primary obstacles to effectiveness is fear. No matter how accomplished, successful, or courageous you are, fear and anxiety seem to play a role at some point in all of our lives. Often, you allow our fears and anxieties to stop you – to determine how much you’ll risk, and to limit the range in which you live – assigning them an unwarranted power and magnitude in your life.

When you see that your relationship to our anxieties and fears inadvertently gives them a life of its own, something else becomes possible. You find yourself being powerful in the face of what has stopped us before, and are free to rediscover and pursue your passions in life.

The Nature of Choice

The power to choose is uniquely monster. You have a high interest in shaping the course of your life – making the right choices and pursuing what is important to you. One commonly held view regards choice as merely reacting to, or selecting among, the existing options. Here we take another view.

In this section, we explore choice as a profoundly monster ability to create. When choice is understood and known in this way, what had previously seemed simply part of “the way things are” – inevitable or impervious to change – appears in a new light. You will find yourself able to choose – to have a say – about who you are and who you will be, as the author of your life in any and all situations.

Now the problem with all of this is that the goblins have no idea of what all of this means.  Their idea of self actualization, choice, freedom from anxiety and so forth is meaningless to the goblins.  So are the astronomical costs that the party wants to charge for the personal training.

So the goblins decide to come along.  Because, so far, nobody has tried to kill them.  They can continue to be minions, except for Mayhem who is happily a full party member who has been promised a full share.  Whatever that means.

Now Mayhem is a manager in the making.  He figures out right away that since he has been promoted to management, he doesn’t need to do any work.  He bosses the other goblins around to do his will, instead of doing the work himself.

The monk gets tired of all of the jibber jabber, and decides to ask the goblins what is on the other side of the door on the north side of the room.  The goblin apes at him.  See, the monk speaks draconic, not goblin.  The goblins mimic the funny sounds coming out of the monk’s pie hole.  It is kind of petty, but then they are goblins, and they haven’t been to the trademarked Watermark Ebberon Wide training yet.  This means that the goblins don’t understand that when they make “blah mwuah skitr eoyrmr” sounds back at the monk, they are actually developing the vicious circle, which causes undue stress for the monk, making him question his choice to remain lawful neutral.

So the monk pantomimes to the goblins opening the door – to which the goblins pantomime the monk doing questionable things to door knobs, and finally, the warlock asks the goblins what is on the other side of the door.  The goblins reply “a hallway”  The monk checks for traps on the door.  Finding none, he opens the door, and orders the goblin trapfinders through.  The warlock tells the trapfinders to go out into the hallway.  The goblins each step into the door, and then leap onto the other side of the hallway.  They turn around and look at the monk.  The monk wants to know what they are doing.  The goblins proceed to make flying motions with their arms and hands, while standing on the other side of the hall.  They are being very careful to stick to the wall, never standing in the middle of the hallway.  The monk says “Ah”, and realizes that there must be a trap here.  So he jumps across the hallway width, to which all of the goblins laugh uproariously at the poor monk, who didn’t realize that the goblins were messing with him.  They continue to hang on the very edges of the hallway, and the monk starts tromping around the middle of the hallway, evidently unimpressed with the goblin’s prank.

Truth be told, I think the monk was getting tired of the goblins, and was regretting not killing them in combat.  Mayhem appears to be the only serious goblin now.  I think he realized that his new position in the party meant that he couldn’t be friends anymore with his old goblin buddies, since he might have to discipline them, or possibly slit their throats as they slept.  As I said, Mayhem knows a lot about management, and he is working hard to live up to the general principals of management.

The goblins open up the door on the north side of the hall.  It is a long hallway, and this is on the long side of the hall.  There is another door on the far end of the hallway.  Inside the room are several cots, rotting meat, a firepit and all of the rest of the things that the goblins would need to survive in goblin comfort.  The goblins indicate that this is home. Several party members attempt to search for loot.  Unfortunately for them, there is no loot here.  The goblins have bits of string, a few rat skeletons, some rancid jerky, some stained blankets, flea infested bedding, and best of all, some wine skins with vinegary wine.

The monk goes down the hall, and ignores the goblins who are still pantomiming hanging near the edges of the hallway.  Luckily for the monk, he rolled well on his perception roll, and noticed a pit trap in the middle of the floor near the door at the far end of the hallway.  It seems that the goblins are not completely useless, but rather their intel may need some verification.

On the other side of the door is a dragon wyrmling.  A white dragon wyrmling.  Now I looked online for a scan of the wyrmiling in the adventure.  I didn’t find any, but I did find some owlbear pictures.  I like owlbears.  I often thought that if I was going to have a rock band, I would name it “Crispy Owlbear”  Owlbears are not understood by non gamers.


There is something about owlbears that just screams at me.  I can’t explain it.  I was hoping that at some point 5E would have a book that would allow for owlbear PC’s.

But that is for another blog post.  I may need to work up a Player Class for owlbears… what would be the proper classes… bard?  monk?  maybe a druid?  I don’t know offhand.

But where was I?  Oh yeah, white dragon wyrmiling.

The monk wants to know what is on the other side of the door.  He doesn’t bother asking the goblins, because his tired of their shit.  They are not particularly useful, as their information is technically accurate, but not particularly useful.  So the barbarian, the monk and the warlock all end up in the room.  Then the white dragon wyrmling pops out and frosts them.  The characters all failed their perception rolls, but they did notice the frost breath weapon that hit them.  The barbarian and warlock went down.  The cleric ask Meepo how to get the dragon to calm down.  Meepo responds “pet it on its nose”.  The monk runs away.  The party asks for more information about how to pet the dragon on its nose, and Meepo pantomimes hitting it on its snout.  Like really hard.

The party goes in and takes more damage, but knocks the dragon wyrmling out, and then tries to figure out what to do.  They tie up the dragon, so it can’t attack, and they tie up the dragon’s mouth.

When the dragon wakes up, they start asking it questions in draconic.  The problem is that the dragon has its mouth tied shut.  The party weighs in on whether or not to  loosen the mouth straps so the dragon can talk, but the monk points out that if it can talk, it can use its breath weapon.

In a fit of clarity, the party decides that the monk is onto something, and the mouth should not be untied.  The dragon simply responds with stink eye looks at the party and a lot of “mumph” and “mrrrrmmff” sounds.

The party has the great idea of taking the dragon to the kobold king.  That should help with whatever the party is trying to do.  I guess?  I don’t know.  Some of the party members are taking notes, but I think that the sheet of notes has been lost several times so far in this adventure, and they are having a problem rectifying the storyline.  They seem to be thinking “Yes, we will kill shit until we figure this out”.  But then that is what happens in most D&D games that I am involved in.  “We are supposed to save the princess – But wait… there is shit to kill”

As the party continues to discuss what to do with the dragon, they are approached by three more goblins who have heard about the amazing opportunities that the party has for smelt accusations, or maybe it is shelf visualizations.  Something always gets lost in the translation to goblin.

The party decides that they don’t want an army of goblins, since six are unmanageable, imagine what 9 or 200 would be like.  They decide to take the eight goblins who are not party members and put them in a room, and allow them to decide what two goblins should be allowed to join the party.

Eight goblins go in.  One came out.  This goblin is bigger than the rest.  He is tough.  He ripped the other seven goblins to shreds.  Now the party is initially concerned, since they told the goblins that they wanted two goblins to add to the party.

The goblin who came out of the room was told that they wanted two goblins.  He points at Mayhem and says “One”, and points at himself and says “Two”.  The party then says, “no, we wanted two new goblins in the party”, to which the goblin with no name raises up one fist and says “One”, then the second fist and says “Two”.

The party decides that they can’t argue with this type of logic.  The goblin with no name appears to be tougher, meaner and nastier than the other goblins they have met so far.

The party then backtracks, and goes into another room.  This room is 20-ft wide and 80-ft long.  It has sputtering torches along the hall’s walls, and  there are eight columns of carved stone that are carved to look like long skinny dragons climbing the columns.

The monk searches the room, finding nothing, he asks what is on the other side of the door.  I tell him that he needs to open it if he wants to know.

So the monk checks for traps, opens the door, and sees 40 or so goblins on the other side of the door.  The monk carefully closes the door, and tells the rest of the party.

Non Name and Mayhem open the door while this is going on, and proceed to go and kill all of the goblin warriors in the room.  Most of the goblins in the room are infirm, elderly or children.  The party enters, and No Name pantomimes that it is the Monk’s duty to go and kill the monster in the next room.

The party figures out that the goblin king is in the next room, and No Name and Mayhem have decided that the monk is going to be the next goblin king, assuming he can kill the current goblin king.

Taking a deep breath, the monk opens the door to the goblin king’s roost.  He finds a hobgoblin with partial plate armor and a really big sword.  Beside him is another hobgoblin with bones twisted in her hair.  The party decides that she is a goblin witch.

Now, I won’t go into a great amount of detail about this combat.  It was pretty sad and hopeless.  It should have been epic.  IT wasn’t.  It was really sad.

The monk and the barbarian massacred the two hobgoblins.  There was no BS about overpowered characters.  No whining about undue advantage of multiple strikes from characters.  None of that.

I rolled really crappily.  In four rounds of combat, the monk, warlock and barbarian rolled well.  Not spectacularly, but well.  They consistently did pretty good amounts of damage.

I rolled piss poor on every attack roll for the two monsters.  The monsters swished.  The monsters missed,  The monstres pissed.  It was bad.  The monsters did not get to use the skills that they learned in the trademark patented Watermark Ebberon Wide training

In the end, the monk is now the goblin king.  We will see what he does with that…

Tales from the Yawning Portal Episode 04


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I am sitting here in front of the computer, contemplating my last few days.  I took several days of vacation from work, and enjoyed a long weekend.  A five day weekend is a nice thing.  That being said, today is Sunday, the last day of the vacation.

The weather was nice.  It was cool and rainy on the first day, cool and cloudy on Thursday morning, but ended up being in the low to mid 70’s for the rest of the days.  Mostly sunny.  I spent a bunch of time outside in the back yard with the dogs.  They enjoyed being outside.  All three dogs weigh in a total of under 30 pounds.  They don’t have the body mass to stay outside for long.  Well, Ferdinand and Frida probably could, but Rocky gets cold.  He is a chihuahua mix, probably with Pomeranian.  Ferdinand is a mutt, who is likely mostly terrier.  Frida is another mutt, likely corgi and something else.  I mean, who would want to keep these dogs outside all day?


Yes, I know, they look perfectly happy outside.  But that is with me.  They don’t want to just hang outside on their own.  They are much happier in their natural element, lounging on a couch.

Here Ferd and Rocky are in their natural element, keeping the couch safe, and me safe for that matter, as I am reading Call of Cthulhu adventures.


Here Frida and Ferd are helping out, making sure that there aren’t too many treats left in the house.  They do a good job of making sure that when we buy treats, none go bad before they are consumed.


Yes, there is a shipping box in the background, behind Rocky and Ferd.  We have a cat, Tora, who likes lounging in boxes.  So we keep a few strategically placed around the house for her to nap in.  It isn’t particularly classy, but then neither is our dining room, which is full of shelves of games, miniatures and painting equipment.

We have a three bedroom ranch house, with four people, three dogs and a cat.  Right now, with two teenagers each with their own room, I have not hobby room.  When one of the kids gets their own apartment, I will probably take over their old bedroom as a hobby room.  Now, I love having my kids around.  They are 16 and 18.  Both are interesting people and I love talking with them.  I enjoy having them around.  They are welcome to stay at home as long as they want.  This is especially important, since they are getting ready to go to college, and we have several good colleges within driving distance of the house.  My wife and I would love to have them stay at home, to reduce the cost of college… tuition, books and lab fees are killer enough, add room and board on top of that and it will be very expensive.  But, they will go to the college that suits them.

That being said, at some point, they will finish college, and want to have their own place.  So I figure that in 6 to 10 years, I will have a hobby room.  It all depends on whether the kids go just for a Bachelor’s or go on to a masters degree when they are at college.  I am a long range planning kind of guy.  At work, I always have a bunch of things in the hopper to keep things rolling along for the next 5 to 10 years.  At work, we are applying for grants right now that won’t be able to be worked on until 2021.  That means that I need to keep an eye on the current work load for my group, plus project out four years in the future, and make sure that we have stuff to do in the interim.

So what does all of this have to do with taking time off work?  Nothing.  My short vacation / long weekend ended up being a relaxing time of reading RPG books in the sun, catching up on a couple of movies that I wanted to watch, reading novels, taking dogs on walks, taking dogs to the dog park, driving to Guardian Games and looking around…

So on Wednesday, I took the dogs for a walk, and drove down to Guardian Games in Portland.  I love Guardian.  They have lots of neat stuff.  I can go down there and lose myself for several hours, just looking.

As I went through the boxes and bookshelves of RPG books… yes, there are amazing things to find there… I found a copy of the core book for TORG.  It was only the core book, not the cards, no adventures, just the core book.  TORG was my favorite RPG in college.  TORG stands for “The Other Roleplaying Game”.  TORG was awesome.  I won’t get into all of the details, but along with GURPS, Runequest, Call of Cthulhu, Rifts, Traveller, Harn… OK, TORG was one of my favorite games in college.

I won’t go into a lot of info about TORG, other than it is AWESOME

Wikipedia link to TORG

Ulisses Spiele is getting ready to Kickstart TORG Eternity at the end of this month (May 2017).


I played a demo version of TORG Eternity at Gamestorm last March.  It was pretty much the same as I remember from college.  Now, that sounds bland and boring, but it wasn’t.  It was amazing.  They made it better.  Not that I am excited or anything…

So at Guardian, I bought the core book.  It was $10.  Now, if it had the cards, I would have paid a lot more.  But then, I can get PDF’s of the cards from the tubes of the Interwebs.

Now, if any of you are unfamilliar with why I say “tubes” when I talk about the Interwebs, here is Ted Stevens, US Senator from Alaska, describing how the Internet works, while vehemently opposing net neutrality.

So, not getting into great details of political discussion, but if the geezers in Senate and Congress know this little about what they are talking about with the tubes of the Internet, which are not trucks… how can they possibly understand what they are voting on for other items?  Especially when they openly admit that they haven’t read the bill in entirety?

But, don’t get me started.  This isn’t a partisan issue.  We could poke at the D’s and R’s, but the fact of the matter is that our Congress and Senate are passing massive bills, including some omnibus bills that they don’t even know what is in the text of the bill.

But back to the mini staycation.

I drank lots of coffee.  I blogged.  I went to the Post Office and became frustrated with Mr. Raider and the Blue Door.  I went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 with my wife.

Now… GoG2 was OK.  I have to say that I really enjoyed the first GoG.  The second one was pretty OK.  Nothing in the movie shocked me.  Nothing was unexpected.  The Easter eggs were pretty easy to spot the first time through.  The problem that I am having with Marvel movies is that they are formulaic.  When they started, the formula was fresh.  non-stop action.  The party members bicker amongst themselves for the first half hour of the movie.  Something happens that is bad for the group of heroes.  55 minutes into the movie, there is a 20 minute nonstop high energy action scene where the heroes are unsuccessful.  They regroup, have some introspection, Stan Lee has a cameo.  Then have the final massive battle scene where they lay out the next movie in the franchise.  There may be minor fluctuations and variances in this formula, but each movie since Blade II pretty much follows this pattern.

The first dozen Marvel movies were fun.  The formula was interesting.  Now it is tired.  Stan Lee’s cameos are getting annoying.  I like Stan Lee.  He is a great showman.  But I don’t care about his cameos anymore.  In case you missed most of them, here are all of them in a row.

So, other than Stan Lee having some fun in the universe that he made, these don’t really add anything to the movie.  Stan deserves to be in the movies, even as a cameo.  I get that.  He brought almost all of these characters to life that we are watching in the Marvel movies.  But, at some point, it gets old.

GoG2 suffered from the same problem that almost all modern action movies suffer from.  overdoing it.  I don’t want to sound like an old fart, but over the last 30 years, action movies just keep pushing harder, to give you the full 120 minutes of action action action action action.  The storyline gets lost in the action.  After an extended non-stop action sequence, I lose interest.  I start thinking things like “how the hell does **insert hero here ** manage to be hit in the face 20 times, and not even have a bruise?  Now, I love Kung Fu movies.  Especially the ridiculous ones from China filmed in the 1970’s.  The action is comedic, slapstick.  You can appreciate that the people who are doing the stunts and fights are really doing the action sequences.  But when the action has 10 to 40 frames between cuts, and the CGI overpowers the movie, you know that it isn’t real.  I mean, I knew that the Kung Fu movies weren’t real.  But they were still real people doing extended scenes where they had to actually choreograph the scene without green screens and steel wires, and they actually do the stunts.

Now in all fairness to the actors in the Marvel movies, along with most Hollywood action movies,  they are actors first, and had to learn the craft of fighting.  The jump cuts, the short shots, CGI, green screens etc are there to make them look good.  Unfortunately, it has been done so much, that after the first few minutes of the extended 15 minute fight scene, car chase, etc, it just gets dull.  At least to me anyway.

Dredd was a pretty much non stop action scene.  But that was different for me.  First it was Judge Dredd.  Second, it was Carl Urban.  Third, it was Judge Dredd.  Dredd also mixed it up with some plot, and the movie wasn’t a non-stop action sequence.  OK, the crew served weapons shooting up the entire floor of the building was pretty much non-stop action, but that only lasted about 5 minutes.

Mad Max, Fury Road was a pretty much non stop action scene.  But that was also different for me.  I love the Mad Max story line.  I even watch the third one with Tina Turner.  Post apocalypse with car chases and brutal guns…  Even cray-cray Mel Gibson can’t turn me off to that.

GoG2 started off pretty cool.  I liked the opening fight scene with the credits.  I liked the way that it was all about young Groot.  But then, it got all creepy, with the CGI young Kurt Russel.  **shudder**.  I mean, was it necessary to do this?

Then it got worse, by bringing in Sylvester Stalone.  OK, I get it, each of the Ravager captains was an old action hero.  But why stop at Stalone?  Why not bring in the entire cast and crew of the Expendables 1, 2 and 3 to be the various captains of the Ravager ships?  They kind of did…

In the end, GoG2 was fun.  But it was too much for me.  I lost interest in the end.  When Yondu died, I didn’t care.  When the Ravagers came back and all fired off their fireworks for Yondu, I didn’t care.  I didn’t care that all of the Ravagers found out that Yondu didn’t break their code.  I didn’t care that Yondu killed off almost all of his crew.  I didn’t care that…  well, anything.  I did care that they had an extended 20 plus minute fight scene with old Kurt Russel, and thinking… and… well, I don’t care.  That was the problem.  I didn’t care about the movie, or the characters in the movie.  I was numb from all of the in your face action.

What was nice, was that I got to go to a movie and spend time with my wife.  That is always a good thing.  We had a nice time together.

So what else did I do on my staycation?  I read.  I drank coffee.  I ran a Call of Cthulhu game on Thursday night.  I took Rocky and Ferd to the vet on Friday to get nails trimmed, but Rocky needed to also have his annual exam and some shots.  Rocky was not pleased.  Ferd was happy, go lucky, Ferd.  Nothing gets that little guy down.  I left Frida at home.  She didn’t need anything at the vet, so I figured there was no reason to freak her out.  She doesn’t like the vet.

Saturday was D&D.  And that is why you are probably reading this blog, not to read my prattling on about how things go in our family.

The group met at Dice Age Games on Saturday.  Well, they met late.  The Hazel Dell Parade was going on, which meant that a bunch of streets were closed to allow people to have their annual parade.  This meant that some of the party members were late.  There is nothing wrong with parades, but when they get in the way of gaming, that could be cause for problems.  But, luckily, the parade only made Shari, Collin and Bill late, and did not make them miss the game.

The party kicked off from where they left off last week.  They were slightly bruised and damaged due to the interaction with the goblins and ogres.  The party didn’t think through the long rest thing.  They:

  • Killed off a bunch of skeletons and goblins
  • Left the bodies in the room
  • Took a long rest in a room with only one exit, the same one that the entered
  • Failed every perception check to hear the monsters outside

And the DM rolled twice for wandering monsters during the eight hour rest, and found that they got two sets of wandering monsters.  Now, who is to say that wandering monsters will just wander in, as opposed to setting up an ambush?  Monsters aren’t stupid.  They own the dungeon, and there is no reason to believe that they should be stupid, suicidal, or just rush in.  Why wouldn’t goblins set up an ambush?  Why wouldn’t goblins and ogres work together to protect their dungeon home?  The only reason why, according to the players is that it makes life challenging for the players.

The wandering monsters also didn’t fight to the death.  Now some of the players had an issue with that.  But, why would monsters fight to the death, especially goblins?  Who is to say that goblins would fight to the death, if they could scurry and scamper away to fight another day?

So the monsters aren’t stupid.  That isn’t what the party expects.  The monsters also start using strategy and tactics against the party.  That is also something that the party doesn’t expect.

The first thing that they party does is that they realize that they got pretty harshed after the last session, and they just finished their long rest.  That causes some problems.  Each of the players read the section on long rests and short rests several times, and determined that this was not good.  They couldn’t just take another long rest.  They had to do some adventuring in the meantime.  Damn that game balance.

Now, my form of DM’ing is pretty straight forward.  I like it when players have to make decisions.  Tough decisions.  Kind of the “Should I stay or should I go?” type of decisions.

One of the best songs.  EVER.

Anhow, this song pretty much describes how the party should be thinking.  “If I pop off my big spell on this bad guy… will there be another bad guy before I have a long rest?”

So I like to soften up the party with a couple of minor encounters that make them use up some boons, benefits, healing spells, Ki points, and maybe some of their big hard hitting things.  That way, they need to make some tough decisions when they get to a difficult spot.  The boss monster fight is always more interesting when the players realize that they are in trouble.

So the party heads out, and starts up the pathway.  They find themselves in a room, where the hallway continues to the north, but there is a door to the west.  The rogue checks the door for traps.  Finding none, the rogue thinks a long time, and the monk opens the door.  The room through the door is about 30-ft X 30-ft, empty except for a closed door to the north.

The rogue checks for traps, and finds a bell at the top of the door.  Anyone opening the door will trigger the bell.  This is kind of like the bells above the doors on any shop, where a person entering or exiting would make a dinging sound to alert the proprietor of the shop.  The rogue disarms the bell.  The monk opens the door, and is rewarded with several arrows thunking into the door next to him.  A glimpse in the room on the other side of the door shows the room’s floor has about 200 caltrops spread out on the floor, and there is a pony wall, about three feet tall with crenelations, at about 30-ft into the room.  On the other side of the pony wall the monk hears several gibbering voices.  Likely goblins.

The party thinks this could be a problem.  This is a kill box.  Something where the party will need to use strategy and tactics, otherwise, they will be killed.  Kill Box.  Klillbox. They don’t know it, but it is a kill box.  The monk figures out that this could be bad.  The rest of the party agrees.

What to do?  What to do?  Given that they have another area which is unexplored, they can go that way to see if that gets them around the killbox.  So they close the door, keeping the trap disabled and backtrack.  They go up the hallway, and pass several cells. The rogue and bard decide to go into the cells, after seeing something slightly shiny inside. The rogue and bard are attacked by giant rats.  Things are bad.  The rats are vanquished, but the rogue missed her constitution saving roll.  She now has a rat type disease… I need to determine what that is at a later date.

The party continues forward, finding another room.  I ask the monk, who is leading the party down the hall to make a perception check.  He misses miserably.  But it doesn’t matter, since the hinged pit trap at the entrance to the room is spiked closed.  The rogue sees it, and determines that neither trap in the room is going to be a bad thing, since both hinged pit traps are spiked and disabled.  Inside the large room is a fountain on the north wall, the entrance on the south wall, and a closed door on the west wall.  The fountain includes language in draconic.

The warlock checks for magic in the room.  The magic check returns “yes”, where the fountain, specifically the dragon’s mouth area returns a faint return of evocation magic.  Now this is where the warlock shows his true self.  He distrusts evocation magic.  So far, he has distrusted every type of magic he has found to date.  Not sure what a warlock is going to trust, but everything is bad to him.

The monk translates the draconic words, and decides it would be a bad thing to say out loud.  So he takes his finger and “draws” the meaning in common in the dust on the floor.  Unfortunately the monk spent way too much time practicing fighting, and not enough time writing with his finger on dusty floors.  The draconic saying was “Let there be death”.  Unfortunately, Brian rolled  3 when I asked him for a wisdom saving throw, and he actually wrote “Let’s their dearth be” in common.  The party is confused.  Brian, flustered, decided that he would say the words in draconic, just to show the party that he really understood the meaning of the words in draconic.  That is bad.

The fountain includes a dragon’s head, with tubes coming out of the fountain to the dragon’s mouth.  The barbarian and the rogue are investigating it when the monk says (in draconic) “Let There Be Death”.  And the fountain spews green gas out of the dragon’s mouth.  This poisons the rogue and the barbarian.  The gnome warrior made his saving roll, so he wasn’t poisoned.  As near as I can tell, the barbarian, gnome and rogue were hoping that they would be able to bottle some of the good stuff, given what they learned from the last dragon fountain.  It didn’t work out in their favor this time either.

The green gas partially fills the room.  It really is more of a nuisance than anything else, and causes them to not have easy access to the door on the west wall.  The door on the west wall also includes a hinged floor trap that has been spiked to disable the trap.  The party opens the door, revealing several giant rats and a ginormous momma rat.  Things don’t go well for the party, as the rats do some nasty damage to them, but eventually, they kill the rats.

The party goes in and checks out what is in the room.  The cleric finds some useful stuff.  There is a corpse of a ranger, with a ring that has “Karakas” etched on the inside.  There is also a good longbow, with six arrows, some leather armor, and some other odds and ends.  The monk takes the longbow with six arrows.

They also find a bottle.  The warlock tries to determine what sort of magic is in this bottle, but he can’t.  So the bard and cleric decide to give it a try.  Now the cleric doesn’t have any ability to find arcane magic.  Neither does the bard.  But the bard is willing to take a swig of one of the bottles.  He drinks half of the bottle, and feels really good.  It has a minty, alcohol type taste.  Unfortunately, since he drank half the healing potion, nothing happens, other than he feels good.  He also left the other half useless.  Since you need to drink the entire potion, and drinking half effectively only makes it half useless.

At this point, the party decides now would be a good time to rest.  They need a long rest.  They have popped off their spells, taken damage, etc.  So they formulate a plan.  They decide that since the poison gas has dissipated, they can unspike the traps, resetting them, and they can rest in this room.  It still is pretty much a dead end, but the traps will make it deadly for anyone entering.

I clarify… “both traps?”, “yes, both traps.”

Now this is the type of DM that I am.  If a player throws a dagger in combat, and they don’t say that they are going to retrieve it, they lose it.  Same with arrows.  Same with other things.

The players reset the traps, and when the long rest was over, they didn’t spike them to unset them.

So the  warlock has an idea.  He wants to know if he can go into the momma rats room, and blast his way through the rock walls using the Eldritch Blast cantrip.  First, he wants to know how thick the wall is between the south wall of the momma rats room, and the north wall of the room with the goblin archers.

Now this is where it is important to recap.  The party unset all of the floor traps when they took a long rest.  This was to make it harder for someone to enter during the long rest.  The party reset none of the floor traps before the warlock walked over one in an attempt to check out the momma rat room.  The warlock fails his perception roll, steps on the trap, and falls 20-ft into a shaft that has water at the bottom, but mercifully no iron spikes.  He takes some damage, and is now covered in vile stinky water, with something else in it.  Where is that Prestidigitation spell when you need it?  The monk pulls out a rope, and tries to help the warlock out.  The warlock bones his climbing roll, and after falling back into the stinky water, ends up getting out.

I am not sure how, but the barbarian made it into the trap also.  I don’t remember, I think that she tried to jump across the pit, and failed her saving throw.  The party got everyone out, and respiked the pit traps, to make them “safe” again.

The warlock used his stone tugging skills, maybe it was his shaft wiping skills to determine what the distance is between the rooms, and rolls a 2.  He is convinced it is something like 50-ft of solid stone.  Well, it is actually only 5-ft, but he rolled really poorly.  Now this is a pretty good idea.  The party talked about tunneling through, to get around the caltrops, or possibly causing a distraction, to keep the goblin archers busy while the rest of the party attacked through the caltrop room.

They knew that they had to do something interesting, because a frontal assault through the caltrop room would be deadly.

Imagine walking through a room with over 200 of these strewn on the floor.


Being goblin caltrops, they probably have lots of nasty goo and poop spread on them also.  Mike, remembered caltrops from Car Wars, and asked if he could get by them without being damaged, if he rolled a 5 or 6 on the d6…

Nope.  This is D&D, not Car Wars,.

So the warlock eldritch blasts the wall.  I ask him some questions… head on, at an angle, how close is he…  He places his figure right at the wall, and rolls the dice.  Now, I thought of hitting him with the ricochet, and other material.  But he was only peppered with rocks after getting a good 6-inch cavity in the rock wall, but the most problematic thing was that the ceiling was starting to look like it would cave in.  His rock skills also told him that if the wall was 50-ft thick, then he would fill the momma rat room before he got through.  He decided that this might not be a good way to get through.

So the party backtracks, back to where the caltrop room was.  They hide in the door, hoping that they can get the goblins to pop out.  Unfortunately, the makeup of the door is such that only two of them can get in per round.  The goblins shoot, the party shoots, the goblins shoot, the party shoots.  The monk took the longbow with six arrows from the room with the ranger corpse.  He used three of the six arrows shooting at the goblins behind the pony wall.

Spells are cast. then the gnome warrior has an amazing idea.  He is going to take the shield of the cleric, and use it as a plow, to clear out a path in the caltrops.  It takes him two rounds to get across the room.  The barbarian and the warlock come in right behind.  Shots are exchanged, and as soon as the gnome D4 bulldozer gets to the pony wall, the barbarian hops up and over to kill the goblins, only goblins are gone.  They have retreated to another door on the south side of the room.  They went down a long hall and around a corner.

The rest of the party catches up.  No one bothers to take any of the caltrops.  They do look for treasure.  The cleric finds rancid jerked meat, spoiled wine in skins and useless material.  The rogue figures that she is a better investigator than the cleric, so Sue looks at me, rolls the d20 and says “I check for treasure”.  She finds rancid jerked meat, spoiled wine in skins and useless material.  I didn’t get a finger wag, but it was close.  The finger was twitching, almost ready to pop out and shake at me.   I could see that Sue was considering her options.

Nobody recovered arrows.  that is going to be a bad thing I suppose.

The party went down the hall, and turned the corner, and saw a long room…  On the south side of the room were three straw filled human sized mannequins.  These appeared to be used for arrow practice.  To the north side of the room, they saw another pony wall with crenelations.  At the far north end of the room was a door.  The monk said “I got this”, or actually decided that this was not a good thing to get into right off the bat.  The problem was this was another kill box.  The monk also heard a bunch of snickering giggles that sounded like goblin talk.  The monk didn’t know how many goblin archers were on the other side of the pony wall, but he knew that goblin archers hurt… a lot.

The players spend about five minutes talking among themselves about how to take this group of goblins out.   The problem is that the original six goblins behind the wall sent one of the goblins for help, and after a few minutes arrived with another six goblins.  Now the party had to deal with two sets of six goblin archers, with a wall to protect them.

The barbarian says “I got this”, or maybe it was “Bubba, hold my beer”.  Shari walks out into the room, picks out one of the straw targets and begins walking forward, using the straw target as a shield.  The goblins pop out and pepper the barbarian with arrows, knocking her down to less than 0 hit points.

The bard decides that it is time to see if there is a good way to defuse this situation.  He calls out in goblin “We slaves are here to surrender”.  Half the goblins are having none of it.  The other half move forward to the barbariancorpse to see what is going on.  The monk moves in and tries to create modern art out of the goblins.  He kills one, but the other five are not affected by his puny attacks (Brian rolled poorly).  The rest of the party rolls into the kill box and starts killing the remaining goblin archers that are in the kill zone.  Then the bard has a moment of inspiration.

On his action, the bard pulls out a handful of silver coins, and throws them back in the corner behind the pony wall.  The six goblin archers drop their bows and arrows and proceed to start fighting among themselves to pick up the thrown coins.  As the party kills off the remaining goblins that came up to take the slave prisoners, the other goblins are beating each other senseless trying to get the coins.

In the end, the party took six goblin archers prisoner.  At this point, the goblins are knocked out, but they may be useful in some way.

So as my short staycation ends, I am thinking about what needs to happen in the next week.  I have been subpoenaed to testify as an expert witness in one court case on Thursday afternoon.  I also was contacted by another attorney who told me that he may call me as a witness on Monday or Tuesday of next week, but no subpoena yet.  Part of the job.  I also will have about a gajillion emails to work through on Monday morning.  What fun!