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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?

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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!

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