Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ballad of the Pigeon God #20: (Talislanta) Would You Like to Touch My Peaches?

Our cast of Characters navigating the world of Talislanta:

Kannex - NPC - Tanasian Wizard who accidently transported a classic D&D brothel into the world of Talislanta.  Desperately researching a way to get a brothel full of women, the brothel's proprietor, and an adventuring party getting increasingly hostile to him back to their home world, as the adventurers try to obtain the components necessary for such an impressive spell.

Rolf Wolfsblood:  Bald-headed barbarian from the Plains of Galmar. Returning from an arduous journey from the Underground Highway of Durne.

Alexi - Sarista gypsy native to Talislanta.  Also returning to Durne. Suffering odd effects from some toxic material encountered in the side caves of the Underground Highway.

Ashe - highly skilled elven ranger, enjoying the fact that hated elves in Crosedes have pointed ears, just like all the races of men in Talislanta.  Currently recovering from "Talislanta Pox" aka, the Talislanta Rhinovirus.

Kane - monk of eastern mysticism with an odd elemental control of water.  Also returning from Durne.

Babette - Urban street thief swept up with the party when they teleported to Talislanta.  Recovering from Talislanta Pox.

29th of Talislandre 150 N.A. - Back at the The Pleasure House of Duane Alberhold, Cymril
Babbette was finally feeling better, sitting on the porch, as Rolf, Kane, and Aleix return from their journey.  They said nothing as they walked into the brothel, climbed the stairs, and and initiated the ensuing ruckus occurred near the door to Kannex's room.

A bit later, Rolf emerged out onto the porch.  He sneered at the the useless young thief who had tried to pick his pockets back a lifetime ago in Hydincall.

"We need purifiers from Sylvanus.  Ashe is better, but Kane fell ill on the road back.  You good enough to not get any of us killed?"

Babette nodded.

"Good, we're taking fucking windships from now on.  Abn Qua should be able to afford them."

32nd of Talislandre 150 N.A. - Back at the The Pleasure House of Duane Alberhold, Cymril
Packed up and provisioned, the group travelled into Cymril city proper to board the windship Solanus-Pon.  Upon arriving at the windship docks, they discovered that the windship had been stolen while still in Zanfir, along with all the equipment of the mercenaries and guides Abn Qua had hired!  Abn Qua's agent arrived at the scene and offered a handsome reward to investigate the theft (it was Abn Qua's ship, after all.)

Within hours, the windship Silver Moon was procurred to take them to Zanfir.

36th of Talislandre 150 N.A. - Zanfir
Silver Moon reached Zanfir just before nightfall, unloaded some cargo, and travelled overnight to Zandria.

37th of Talislandre 150 N.A. - Zandria
They party arrived in town and began buying drinks for the breakfast crowd at the taverns, overtly looking for information.  They found out from one of the dockguards it had been a magical theft.  A cloud of morpheus dust rolled in, knockng the guards out.

During lunch a strange character came up to their table and asked "Would you like to touch my peaches."  Most of the party was caught off guard, or misheard the Sarista's question, but Rolf simply sighed and nodded, "No they are quite rotten."

Rolf introduced their cotact in Zandir, Darius, to the rest of the party.

"No kind sir, Darius is a wanted man, You should call me "Yuri!" *OVERTLY OBVIOUS WINK*

"I understand we must go to Silvanus.  The theft of the Solanus-Pons has made travel difficult here, No windship, but I will buy Equs for each of you.  Very easy to ride.

They walked to a local stable together.  "Yuri" spoke with stable owner and handed him a large payment for five Equas, strange reptilian looking horses.
With bit and bridle on each each steed, they rode off.  Yuri glanced back one last time, and pulled a familiar sack of coins from beneath his cloak, "I suggest we leave tonight... immediately."

38th of Talislandre 150 N.A. - On to the road to Silvanus
The Equs proved to quick and reliable steeds.  Rolf even managed a crack a smile with the hijinx and stories of Alexi and Yuri. While resting over lunch, they heard a rustling in some nearby bushes.   Pouncing to action, they encountered a dwarf, much like the ones from their world.  He wiped his nose, leaving a trail of snot on his sleeve.  He extended his hand towards Rolf and said, "Would you like to touch my penis?"

Babette:  "He did say peaches, right. In the language we speak back home?"
Rolf:  "He speaks Trade Common, thief, but he certainly did not say peaches."

It was unsure how he arrived in Talislanta, but the dim-witted Norm Dingleberry had found his way to the forests of Silvanus in Talislanta.  Given that  he had spoken more Trade Common than his entire previous adventure with Kane, the monk was impressed.

Impressed enough that he vouched for him a capable fighter...

Okay, Kane outright lied.  But, he had his own provisions, and his own steed, a weary looking but servicable pony called Mytomek, and seemed eager to adventure.  They washed the snot off the dwarf and everone continued on their way....

DM Notes: We have begun "The Jewel of Fortuna" from the Sarista sourcebook for Talislanta.   Bigger for the party is the sudden addition of Norm Dingleberry, last seen in Episode #14: "The Shattered Circle."  As time and dimensional travelers, they either seem like geniuses or utter morons, and a dwarf nitwit that can barely speak Dwarven, much less Common, fits one of those categories.

NEXT #21 - The Blue Lotus Clan

#RPGaDay 2017 Day 22: What RPGs are the Easiest to Run?

We begin the third week of #RPGaDay 2017 with "What RPGs are the Easiest to Run?"

The not so short answers:  Anything I GM is Easy.  Savage Worlds, D&D, Hackmaster, GURPS, PbtA, if I'm running the system, it's because I've picked up on the concepts and can easily related them to any new players.

Fun side story: I've seen plenty of rules-lite/improve heavy systems clunker down in the midst of combat, for a number of reasons, usually more in the player/GM spectrum.  I managed to run the entire G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chieftain in Hackmaster in four hours and fifteen minutes.   Did I mention that the PCs tripped the alarm early on, and outside of half-hour slog-fest when they did get pinned down in a room for a bit (It's f20 gaming, it happens.), they were able to break through and have a gripping, frantic running battle through the caverns beneath the steading?  I don't have the exact casualties on hand, but they went through more than a dozen encounters, which, if they were playing other appropriate f20 games, would take numerous sessions for even the hardcore players I know.  At 10:15 that night, the PCs were walking away from the burning steading with the chieftain's head in their possession, the end credits rolling, and the players taking their first deep breaths in hours.  If you know your stuff, any RPG is "easy."

That being said, if I needed to run something RIGHT NOW and have it be easy and awesome, it would be Risus

C'mon, a handful of  d6's, a scrap of paper to write down stats, and we're game for an adventure in the Horrible Dungeon of the Imminent Random Encounter, Supernatural Space Adventures Based Off of Comic Book Movie #15619, saving the village from the adorable rampage of dire pugs, or a simple trip to the convenience store to grab chips and queso.

Risus gives me the basic framework to make it happen.

Heck, those first three ideas could happen on the way to the store *spoilers!*  The expired salsa is probably behind it all, but all fingers point to the guac.

Thanks #RPGaDay, I have the plot for the my next Illuminati University game!
"I left my coupon for the queso back at the house..."
EDIT:  When the list comes out for #RPGaDay in July, I start knocking these bad boys out early for three reasons.  First, my schedule in late August is particularly crazy, and I don't want to get this far in and not finish the experiment. Second, I don't want other people's answers to influence my measly thoughts, no matter how much better they are. Finally, I don't game enough that the sessions might radically alter my answers.  

However, last night, our friendly 5th Edition D&D game was cancelled and who came to the rescue with a filler game?   *THIS GUY*

And what did I run?  Risus. Although, despite all the talk above about comic books and queso, it was a hard sci-fi game.  Characters were part of the early Mars colonists, just starting to terraform the planet.  Outside a few botched rolls that transformed the Strategic Program Advisor (aka "Mars Commissar") into Steve Urkel, the game was run entirely straight and it worked great.  

It was only the last five minutes when I revealed Nazis and a White Martian grabbing the commissar in some caves beneath the surface that things were guaranteed to devolve into B-Movie status we love so very much whenever we get the chance to play again.

Monday, August 21, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 Day 21:Which RPG Does the Most with the Least Words

Day 21 of #RPGaDay 2017 shows that I'm still hip with the trendy, small press games.

"Which RPG Does the Most With the Least Words?"

That goes to a recent discovery for me, Rockerboys and Vending Machines

Character creation, mechanics, artwork AND a cyberpunk adventure generator, for FREE? Aces in my book.

Yes, I know, it's a hack off of Lasers and Feelings, which is a boat load of fun, but the adventure generator for cyberpunk just feels more fleshed out L&F.  It can be argued that the cyberpunk source material and inspiration can be a bit more varied, but every L&F actual play I've heard, regardless of story generated, sounds exactly the same.   

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Water Cart from Things From the Basement

Things from the Basement has recently released a 28mm Water Cart kit for all your wargaming needs.

#RPGaDay 2017 Day 20: What is the Best Source for Out-of-Print RPGs?

Nostalgia in all its forms for #RPGaDay 2017 Day 20:

"What is the Best Source of Out-of-Print RPGs"

Enter the late-to-party Grognard, "Dagnabbit, I wish Crazy Egor's was all in his glory of the 80's and 90's you could get old-school modules affordably.  Heck, they even paid YOU a penny if you added a copy of Isle of Dread with your order."

Yes, I know Crazy Egor still exists in some form in the Rochester, NY area, but I feel a trip up there could never match up with the simply ridiculous inventory that we encountered in our epic road trip in the early 90's. 

Anyway, I've certainly left the Collector mentality after my great purge of 'Aught-Four.   Now married with kids, I don't have the budget to snag up the cool old stuff I still want, and I certainly don't have the time to use it in play.

I'm resigned to use two avenues to access my sense of nostalgia:
  1. eBay - This is not as awesome as it was even fifteen years ago.  Ridiculous opening bids and Buy-It-Now prices that make it cheaper to purchase a time machine and go back in time and buy it at retail. I still have a few saved searches that I check for deals (they still exist), but most of them are for miniatures.
  2. Auctions at local cons - I have the good fortune of having a local con (Mepacon) twice a year with solid auctions.  The auctions started as a con dealer hosting an "Everything starts for a dollar!" auction to a well-organized, standard part of the convention.  The dollar minimum still stands (outside large/rare items or charity auctions) and since it's fueled by attendees winnowing out their collections, it's a nice variety of stuff.  Of course, there's also a pre-auction buyout price that can be listed on the item, so a few of us might be known to prowl the area looking for deals.    Even then, I've given up a deal of a buy-out bid at, say ten dollars, only to pick it up in the live auction for three.  No signed copies of 70's Chainmail, but I have rebuilt my Rifts collection for Savage Rifts for less than a sawbuck.  
Plus that Russian copy of Scrabble I snagged is a conversation starter....

Saturday, August 19, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 Day 19: Which RPG Features the Best Writing?

Another #RPGaDay 2017 question that made me go, "Hmmmmmmm...."
Day 19: "Which RPG Features the Best Writing?"

I can think of quality publishers, a sourcebook of note, but I had to think long and hard into the past, only find the answer in the immediate past for some of the best writing in a rulebook I've seen in quite some time.

The My Little Pony Tails of Equestria Storytelling Game.
Yeah, you can stop laughing.  This game makes your favorite game appear to have been written by dyslexic monkeys with hooks for hands who typed it up in the middle of Grand Mal seizure. 

Now that I've offended everyone, let me explain. 

This type of book needs to cover three groups:  the Pony fanatics, kids and their parents, and the general role-playing crowd, and it successfully writes to each group at the same time, without talking down to them or going over their heads. 

This has some of the best explanation as to what an RPG/Storytelling game is, solid examples on how mechanics should work 99% of the time (without persevering on the 1%), and almost calming advice to those who want to run a game.

The kicker is character creation:  With only one quick breeze through of the book, I was able to conduct full character creation with my six and eight-year old daughters in just a few minutes, because the section was so well structured that my eldest could pop between the required chapters to look up talents and quirks.  Page numbers for other sections and basic explanations that make an experienced gamer admire its simple elegance was the apparently the mission of the writers/editors. 

I'm willing to compare it to my Savage Worlds Explorer Edition, because (a) the kids love playing Savage Worlds and (b) the similarities between character creation and mechanics are oddly comforting (Maja, my eight year old, realized that all by herself).  So, while portions of Savage Worlds are wildly in-depth, it's not the multiple options available for character advancement that turns Maja off,  it's the lack of internal organization and reference points so she can compare and contrast. .

And their version of "Bennies" blows the lid off anything Savage Worlds does.

I was planning Mousling Fantasy games using Savage Worlds, but I figure a few more sessions under our belts, and I could easily set  up under My Little Pony.

Heck, I assume after a few more read through and me teaching her what a basic story outline is, Maja will be ready to GM her first RPG any day now, and I'll be forced to run Mouslings if I want a chance of GMing something.

Friday, August 18, 2017

More Flip Flops Than a Jimmy Buffet Concert

This week, I've found myself on too many late-night phone calls and typing away at the computer. No big news right now, but since I haven't had time to venture to the painting bench, I'm calling a few audibles.

  • Monday night is the online 5th Edition D&D game I'm playing in. Two sessions in and we've vacillated between a SyFy Channel Disaster Movie and Grey's Anatomy, with a few travelling montages out of Milo and Otis.  I'm not complaining at all.  
  • If Jeff, our DM, cancels, I think I have a few interested parties for some random one-shots/playtests that I've been fleshing out from the blog's back-catalog of drafts.  If I want Terraforming Mars: The RPG, The Bloody White Baron of Mongolia, or George and Ike's Excellent Mexican Adventure, this might be a good avenue for it.  
  • I had great online conversations with Nate (Norm Dingleberry) and Hoyce (Talis Makolin) to help flesh out final episodes of the Ballad of the Pigeon God. I still need to talk to Steve (Echelon), for his recollections, but the framework of those final days has been confirmed, and a few juicy details that I forgot after nearly twenty years.  I foresee the weekly episodes every Tuesday morning extending into July of next year.  
  • I'm putting Rat-na-Rock on the far back burner of projects, alongside my Lost City and "Home" D&D campaigns.  The Frost Giants are still getting painted up.
  • The 27th Leinenkugel Gnome Infantry are back up on the queue and more gnomes after that.  
  • As God as my witness, the German Colonials and Treasure Chests will get finished.  
  • Still trying to figure out my four hours of "grown-up" games to run at Mepacon.  Worst case, I may run more My Little Ponies Friday night.
  • My Reaper Bones 4 pledge got dropped down to a $1 (Wave One).  Things are weird in the world right now, and I have have little under a year with the pledge manager to add what I finally decide on.  Plus Macrocosm Miniatures is having a one-week Kickstarter the end of August and it will end at the same time.  
  • Michael's is currently clearing out their Spring/Summer Gnome & Fairy Home lines and has the Halloween and Christmas themes up (Thanks Mike for update!)
And while I figure out all of this, I'm trying to reconstruct the campaign map based off of all the campaigns I ran plus, the Epic of Aerth as the base...   Minor spoilers for the post-Pigeon God map.