Sunday, September 17, 2017

Heroes In Both Worlds

Tickets available - $10.00 for one day, $15.00 for both days! Come be a hero here and in Golarion!

Ever since I first saw Keith Baker's Extra Life 2014 event on Twitch, I've wanted to put my hobby
to better use in the same way. I grew up on stories of great heroes - Logan, Skywalker, Baggins, Arthur, just to name a few; while I'm not readily able to stand in the gap as a real life hero, this is something I know I can do. I'm going to be running a Pathfinder Beginner Box mini-campaign the weekend of November 18-19 for Extra Life.

For those of you who don't know, Extra Life raises funds for children's hospitals throughout the United States. In this case, I, and a number of other gamers (both video and tabletop), will be running games and tournaments to raise funds for Omaha's own Children's Hospital and Medical Center. These funds are used to provide the hospital with the vital supplies it needs to save and improve the lives of the children who seek care.

As an organization, Extra Life has set November 4 as its game day; while our event is scheduled for November 18 and 19, don't let that keep you from participating in any other events before or after those dates. Tickets for either day can be purchased here. It's $10.00 for one day, $15.00 for both!

So come join us on November 18 and 19 at Bellevue University and be a hero in more than one world! If you can't make it but want to donate, you can make a donation through my Extra Life page here! EDIT: I now have the donor rewards posted to my page!

About The Game
Based in Sandpoint, the game will use the overall rules of the boxed set with a few additions from the Berkeley Pathfinders Guild. If you don't own the Beginner Box or core rules, you can find the Beginner Box reference document here. Each morning the event will start up with a short character generation session for any newcomers, allowing them to quickly generate a character under the Beginner Box rules or otherwise pick a pre-generated character (links will be posted below in the near future). While the pregens were created under the Pathfinder Society rules, this is not a Pathfinder Society event.

The campaign is divided into two halves, each beginning at 10 am and ending at 8 pm. Both halves will have breaks interspersed throughout as needed for the players and GM. Players do not have to play from the very beginning and will be guided through an initial character generation/upgrade session at the start of the daily event and during breaks in between adventures.

House Rules
There are a few house rules for this game:
  • Rule Zero: To quote a friend's house rules:
Every feat, race, spell, prestige class, variant rule, etc. is subject to change or removal at the discretion of the DM. Even if a game element is initially permitted, if it is later deemed incompatible with the campaign, it will be modified or removed. Any characters (PC or NPC) that use that element may be required to adjust to the change (in other words, grandfathering is not guaranteed). The DM will attempt to keep this sort of thing to a minimum (if at all), but sometimes this may happen in the process of keeping the rules appropriate to the campaign setting. 
  • Character Generation: Core Rulebook/Beginner Box supplemented by Berkeley Pathfinders Guild rules. Blank character sheets can be downloaded here.
    • Hit Points: Characters start with max hit points, modified by CON. When a character levels up, they receive the average number of hit points for their Hit Die (d4 = 2; d6 = 3; d8 = 4; etc.), modified by CON. The nature of hit points is as described by Gary Gygax in the first edition AD&D Player's Handbook (p.34):
      "Each character has a varying number of hit points, just as monsters do. These hit points represent how much damage (actual or potential) the character can withstand before being killed. A certain amount of these hit points represent the actual physical punishment which can be sustained. The remainder, a significant portion of hit points at higher levels, stands for skill, luck, and/or magical factors. A typical man-at-arms can take about 5 hit points of damage before being killed. Let us suppose a 10th level fighter has 55 hit points, plus a bonus of 30 hit points for his constitution, for a total of 85 hit points. This is the equivalent of about 18 hit dice for creatures, about what it would take to kill four huge warhorses. It is ridiculous to assume that even a fantastic fighter can take that much punishment. The same holds true to a lesser extent for clerics, thieves, and the other classes. Thus, the majority of hit points are symbolic of combat skill, luck (bestowed by supernatural powers), and magical forces."
      Under this interpretation, I'm ruling that a character's total physical hit points are equal to their CON score. A fighter with a CON of 10 and 10 hit points at first level (d10 HD) would start out with his physical hit points already maxed out. A wizard with a CON of 10 and 6 hit points at first level (d6 HD) would still be growing into his physical hit points and would not reach (and exceed) his physical hit points until third level (6 + 3 + 3 for a total of 12, indicating 10 physical hit points and 2 hit points representing luck, skill, divine favor, etc).
    • Alignment: Any non-evil alignment is permitted. Characters must be within one step of their patron deity's alignment. Only non-evil deities from the core rulebook may be chosen for a character's patron deity.
    • Skills: We will use the full skill list from the core rulebook for this game
    • Combat Maneuver Bonus & Difficulty: These are not used in the Beginner Box rules.
    • Pregenerated Characters: Pregens are available. These are characters designed to Pathfinder Society specs and may be modified to fit the Beginner Box rules as necessary. Pregenerated character sheets will be available at the game table and may also be downloaded here. When necessary, exceptions will be made for pregens with regard to core rules vs. beginner box rules and interpretations will be made as needed during the course of the game. Available pregens include: 
EDIT: Normally I'd have everything copied down on the character sheet for players, but in this case I'm running out of time between work, real life and event prep. Each link for a pregen goes to a "kit" including the character stats, a character sheet, and the necessary expansions. Players will note that I've gone from using the Beginner Box character sheets to using the character sheets designed by Happy Camper. This is not only to expand upon the skills, but also for cosmetic reasons.
    • Replacement Characters: Replacement characters for current players may be drawn from the pregens. They come in with 100% of the XP the old character had if that character was level 1-3; if level 4 or higher, the replacement comes in with 90% of their predecessor's XP.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

So it's been a while since I last wrote on this blog. Quite a while, in fact. In the interregnum, I've started and shelved a D6 Star Wars campaign, as well as stillborn Shadowrun and Fragged Empire campaigns. Still, I've stuck around and have started a Call of Cthulhu campaign based in modern-day Arkham, MA.

Yep, I can still Cthulhu with the best of them!

The last CoC game I ran was several years ago at Nuke-Con and it was somewhat of a success despite a slight regret I have about it. There are currently four players and five characters, all of whom have some connection to Arkham, mostly through Miskatonic University. So far, the best way I can describe the game is to take The X-Files (Delta Green), Supernatural, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Scooby Doo, and mix with a liberal amount of Lovecraft and King's own brands of suspense and horror. The pilot episode's title is "Hounded".

Our crew includes:
  • Joseph - An anthropological photographer for National Geographic and Miskatonic grad.
  • Will Jenkins - A philosophy grad student at Miskatonic. Known to be a hipster.
  • Dr. Bedivere Pentecost - A time-lost British scientist from the 1940s. One moment he was on the deck of the USS Eldridge, and then... he wasn't. Needless to say, the students and faculty in the Miskatonic U science building were just as surprised to see him as he was to see them.
  • FBI Special Agent Selina LeMaine - Selina was part of a joint task force consisting of FBI, DEA and ATF agents set to raid a known drug house. When the raid went down, Selina covered the back to keep any runners from making it very far. That happened to be what saved her life; when her colleagues burst through the front door, things went sideways and there was an explosion, killing everybody but Selina, who was knocked out by the concussive force of the blast. Selina happened to be in Arkham, MA, returning home after recovering from her injuries and the shock of the incident.
  • Digby aka "The Drooler" - Selina's faithful, preternaturally smart Great Dane. No, he can't talk. She became his caretaker after her great aunt Gertrude passed away.
Digby aka "The Drooler"
Thus far, our band of investigators are in the shallows of a case involving a Miskatonic grad student, his messily murdered friend, and a marginalized professor's supposed time machine. You see, it all happened one beautiful fall day on the Miskatonic campus, bringing them all together in a perfect storm of confusion, poor decisions and statements, and some humorous mayhem. GM's Note - This game happened a few weeks ago, so I only remember the general gist of the events. Please excuse any plot holes or other issues...

Joseph and Will were out and about on the Miskatonic campus and happened to bump into one another. Being acquaintances of a sort (Will was a student in a class Joseph was a teaching assistant in), they began conversing, only to have that conversation interrupted by a slightly unhinged grad student come running through the quad, screaming, "It killed Buddy!"

Meanwhile, Doctor Bedivere Pentecost, confused over how he came to be in modern-day Arkham, MA after spending the better part of a month working on the Phildelphia Project, wandered the halls of one of the MU science buildings. Encountering a female coed (who was dressed in pants, to Pentecost's shock), he wandered into a professor's office to gaze in amazement at his posters and pictures of Saturn V rockets and other modern day spacecraft.

By this time, Will and Joseph had made their way to the building the grad student had run out of (the same building), and opened the door to a lab to make a gruesome discovery. There they found the mutilated body of Buddy, a somewhat banged-up time machine, and a whole lot of blue goo in the wreckage of the lab. Dr. Pentecost later joined them and became the subject of some impromptu mind games and tomfoolery by Joseph and Will, who gave him the nickname "Jumanji". Will, being the ultimate crass hipster, took a few selfies of himself with the crime scene. Dr. Pentecost, still befuddled by being tossed through time, added to the carnage with some projectile vomiting.

Selina, essentially being the first (and only) federal agent in Arkham at the time of the incident, was sent to MU by her director to help the Arkham PD investigate the incident. She found the trio viewing the security camera footage with Max Fallon, one of MU's hapless security people. When asked what they were doing, Dr. Pentecost, in a fit of 1940s male chauvinism, managed to insult the thoroughly modern Selina, and caught a boot south of the border for it. He came to after feeling a warm rain and awoke to Digby staring down at him. Selina got a copy of the video, confiscated Will's cellphone, and proceeded to take the evidence to the Arkham PD.

Dr. Pentecost, nursing a wounded ego while walking slightly off kilter, wandered down the streets of Arkham and came across a bank. Seeing this as a proper opportunity to secure some funds from his account, he went in and spoke with a teller, who told him he could not make a withdrawal as he didn't have an account there. She did manage to get info on his account elsewhere in order to open an account in Arkham, and Pentecost was happy to find his account was slightly larger than when he had left it. Needless to say, in the ensuing ruckus he generated, he was picked up by the police and hauled off to the drunk tank to cool down.

Meanwhile, Selina went to the MU Medical Center to inverview the grad student, Thanarek "Than" Thongchaisawang, who was in the psych ward. During the investigation, she learned that he and his friend had decided to tinker with an alleged time machine belonging to Professor David "Kooky" Kowitz. Securing one of the monkeys from MU's biology department, the two sent the hapless primate back in time what they thought was only a few minutes. However, when the time machine came back, they got more than they bargained for.

The monkey came back unharmed, if slightly perturbed at the trip, followed by something... Something big, hostile, and hungry. In the ensuing chaos, the monster ate the monkey, chased the two throughout the lab before Than escaped and Buddy was cornered. The creature then tore Buddy apart, ritualistically rearranged his body parts into a triangle, and disappeared.

Than then began to scream that the creature had returned and begged Selina for protection. Selina turned to see Digby looking through the small window of the room, fogging it up with his breath. Calming Than down, she showed him Digby was (in appearances) a normal dog, not some horrible monster. She then ordered Digby to sit and stay while she concluded the interview. Digby, being a dog, did what any dog would do. He sat there for about five minutes before his stomach told him to find something to eat.

Finding herself minus her dog, Selina had only to follow a path of destruction to find him. Digby managed to commandeer a food cart, devouring most of the meals and a large bowl of tapioca pudding before continuing on to body check a vending machine. Dissatisfied with the machine's refusal to give up the goods, Digby made his way outside to witness several museum employees transferring dinosaur bones from a delivery truck into the museum.

Selina emerged from the hospital to see Digby dash out of the museum with a massive bone in his jaws, followed by two museum employees. After corralling Digby in her car, returning the now soggy bone to the museum, and apologizing for her dog's misbehavior, Selina made her way to the Arkham PD to consult with the detectives there.

Down at the Arkham PD, Dr. Pentecost was getting along marvelously with the few drunks conscious enough to speak with him. Will and Joseph soon arrived to post bail and take their wayward ward to Joseph's apartment. The four crossed paths once again, and Will decided he was going to confront Selina about the confiscation of his phone. Selina refused to give it back, Will refused to give up in his crusade, and the sergeant in charge of the evidence room stood firm, saying he would "Get it back when he gets it back."

At this point, my mind is foggy as to what course of action they were going to take with the investigation, but I'm sure it will continue to merrily go off the rails and into the darkest of Arkham's shadows with our next session...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This Just In: Rogue One Is AWESOME!

So, I'm sitting here basking in the afterglow of seeing Rogue One. My wife, who went with a friend to see it earlier in the week, had told me that there was a surprise at the end, but didn't tell me what it was (and no, I didn't ask, either). Prior to seeing this movie, I diligently avoided the clickbait spoiler rumors and all the other Gawker squawk. The only things I "spoiled" for myself were some minor easter eggs.

At any rate, here's what I have to say about it - no spoilers, no whining, no "critique" as a lot of my fellow fans have already done. Rogue One is awesome. It's different from the other Star Wars movies - not just including its more responsible use of CGI technology - and that's what makes it good. The ending was indeed a surprise - but then again, the entire story was a surprise to me in how it played out.

If you're a dedicated Star Wars fan who hasn't seen this movie yet, I ask that you keep an open mind as you watch it. Keep in mind that everything that happens in this movie is necessary for the story of the original trilogy (as well as the survival of the Rebellion).

To those who have "problems" with Rogue One, who continue to claim that George Lucas, and now Disney, is "raping" their childhood, all I have to say is this: Bite me. It was never your sandbox - or mine - to begin with.

In celebration of this movie, as well as Carrie Fisher's progress/, here's a Rogue One-inspired D6 Star Wars character template, the Guardian of the Whills and the blank character template as well. Enjoy!

These were designed with a number of motifs in mind - namely some of the decor of the d20 sheets as well as the nostalgia of the old Star Wars action figure cards. Yes, a form-fillable version will be forthcoming.

SAD UPDATE: This morning (12/27/16) I read with a heavy heart the news that Carrie Fisher passed away. My heart goes out to my fellow fans as well as the rest of the Star Wars cast for the loss of everybody's princess.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Project Jasper: Hope for Carrie Edition

So, today my wife went out with a friend to see Star Wars: Rogue One while I spent the day studying the backs of my eyelids (I work the overnight shift at an emergency shelter for troubled youth, for the record, so I had to take one for the team). While I was sleeping, 2016 decided it wanted to continue being a dick and I awoke to the troubling news about actress Carrie Fisher. Having already remarked on how nasty the year has been, I had thought about giving this post an especially nasty title. Fortunately, the more rational parts of my mind and heart teamed up and beat down my inner cynic.

As a continuation of my remembrance of Benoist Poire's canine friend Jasper, my latest entry combines my love for dogs and Star Wars with hope and prayers for Carrie Fisher's full recovery. Here I present Jhaspar Gnarr.

Jhaspar Gnarr, Jedi Padawan (22 BBY)
Artwork from The New Essential Guide To Alien Species; Del Rey; 2006
Male Shistavanen

Blaster 3D+1
Lightsaber 4D
Melee 4D
Melee Parry 4D

Survival 3D

Astrogation 2D+1
Starfighter Piloting 2D+1
Starship Gunnery 2D+1


Stamina 3D+2

Lightsaber Repair 3D

Move 10/13

Special Abilities
Night Vision:
Shistavanens have excellent night vision and can see in darkness with no penalty

Force Skills
       Control 2D
       Sense 1D

Powers: Remain Conscious (C), Lightsaber Combat (C/S)

Force Points: 2, Character Points: 5, Dark Side Points: 0

Equipment: Two lightsabers (5D dmg. ea.), Jedi battle armor, Jedi robes, commlink, blaster pistol (4D dmg)

A Quote: "Squad Aurek will move around the hills to the southwest. Squad Besh will flank from the east. Master Taresh and I will lead the charge down the center with squads Cresh and Dorn. Hopefully we can convince General Sanguinus of the error of her ways."

SAD UPDATE: This morning (12/27/16) I read with a heavy heart the news that Carrie Fisher passed away. My heart goes out to my fellow fans as well as the rest of the Star Wars cast for the loss of everybody's princess. This post is still a work-in-progress, and I will post a background and Rebellion Era stats for Jhaspar after an appropriate bit of time.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Project Jasper: Ayla Buckburr and Jasper

Artwork ©2016 Kraken-Steelklaw
For my first entry in Project Jasper, I thought I'd go with one of my favorite fantasy games, Beyond the Wall. I present to you, Ayla Buckburr and Jasper!

For generations the Buckburr family was renowned for breeding dogs long sought by hunters across the kingdom. Like her father, her brothers, and all her cousins, Ayla, the sole daughter of her father's family, was a budding kennelmaster. Were it not for a chance meeting with Jasper during their shared youth, she most likely would never have seen the lands beyond her home village.

During her 20th summer, Ayla was wandering the woods when she came across a big-pawed, floppy-eared pup of a dog drinking from the stream. Mutually surprised, the two eyed each other suspiciously for a moment before Ayla took the first step.

Calling to the dog, she knelt down and offered a piece of beef jerky to him. Jasper, as Ayla came to call her new friend, wolfed the offering down and licked Ayla's face in appreciation. Ayla quickly offered up her entire lunch, which Jasper made short work of. The two sat by the stream for some time and formed the foundations of a bond through which Jasper told his story as best he could. Sensing her new friend's feelings of loss, Ayla invited Jasper to live with her and the rest of the Buckburr clan.

As Jasper waited outside, Ayla began to work her charms on her parents and older brothers. Bringing the pup into the house, she quickly introduced him to her family. Bartleby, her father, was reluctant to simply adopt Jasper, citing the fact that they already had a breeding pair and their large litter to feed. Ayla won them over however, and spent the rest of the summer tending to her chores and playing with Jasper in her free time. Despite his misgivings, Bartleby quickly came to see that Jasper was something special, for he was brighter than his new kennelmates. Ayla's bond with Jasper grew over the next two seasons. Sadly, that did not last long as Ayla's father sold Jasper to a hunter who turned out to be cruel and abusive. Before long, Jasper escaped and made his way back home, much to Ayla's delight, her father's surprise, and the hunter's anger.

Ayla's father sent Jasper back with his would-be master, but the pup soon found his way back again. This time, however, Ayla hid him away. The hunter, incensed at the dog's defiance, returned to the Buckburr farm with eyes afire. Bartleby tried to convince his daughter to give Jasper back, but she refused to give him up. Frustrated with his daughter's refusal to do what he thought was the right thing, Bartleby gave the hunter his money back. Sadly, it wasn't enough. The hunter, still demanding he receive a dog, took the family's prize dam as he left.

Fearing his business ruined, Bartleby was furious. In a fit of rage, he threw Ayla out of the house and banished her from the family farm. Now homeless, Ayla and Jasper made their way to human lands. Along the way, Jasper taught Ayla what he knew of survival in the wilderness and protected her from wild animals.

The two soon found themselves in a large human village at the edge of the woods. Being the only halfling in town made life hard for Ayla, but Jasper provided her with companionship and protection. At first the pair tried to raise money for food by doing acrobatic and riding tricks in the town square. Sadly, what little they raised was barely enough to feed the two once a day. However, their act had caught the eye of the captain of the guard, who suggested they join the militia.

When the captain of the guard introduced Ayla and Jasper as the newest recruits, the other militia members practically fell out of formation in laughter. Undeterred, Ayla refused to be laughed out of room and board. For the first month, she and Jasper seemed to be nothing more than mascots for the militia. "Small but mighty" they fancied themselves. Ayla, however, was out to prove herself, and Jasper was equally determined.

Ayla fixed up a makeshift saddle and tack for Jasper. At first he didn't care for it, but he soon got the hang of having a rider. The two quickly became able to read each other's body language and improved their synergy as rider and steed. The young halfling also took up archery and found she was most proficient with the bow. Being a halfling, a human-sized shortbow worked well as a halfling-sized longbow. Before long, the two began putting on "performances" for the militiamen, demonstrating Ayla's skill as a mounted archer and Jasper's agility as her steed.

As autumn set in, Jasper and Ayla's bond grew more powerful and soon Jasper was able to communicate with Ayla as well as any other person. On the last full moon of the harvest, Jasper demonstrated another unusual talent of his faerie upbringing. The night of All Saints' Eve, the ghost of a long-forgotten murder victim haunted the village square. Fearing the ghost was an ill omen, the townsfolk began locking their doors and staying in when it was normally a festive time of year. Unafraid of the ghost, Jasper, who had a keen sense for the presence of spirits, aided Ayla in leading the ghost to its final rest in the village graveyard.

During the winter, when goblins began attacking nearby farms in search of food, Ayla and Jasper volunteered to act as scouts. The two quickly learned the best ways to track and avoid the foul creatures and led a band of militia soldiers right to their cave. In the end, the goblins were driven from the region and the pair were hailed as heroes, being made true members of the local militia.

Ayla Buckburr, Halfling Outrider
Class: Warrior-Rogue       Level: 1       Title: Observer      Alignment: Lawful
DEX: 15 (+1)      STR: 10 (+0)        CON: 12 (+0)        INT: 12 (+0)        WIS: 10 (+0)        CHA: 8 (-1)
Hit Dice: d10
Hit Points: 10
Armor Class: 13 (leather armor); 14 (leather armor + wooden shield)
Initiative Bonus: +2           Initiative (DEX bonus + Initiative Bonus + Level): 4
Base Attack Bonus: +1      Total Attack Bonus: +3 (Weapon Specialization + DEX Bonus + BAB)

Skills: Animal Lore, Direction Sense, Stealth
Knack: Weapon Specialization (Bow): +1 to hit, +2 to damage
Special Abilities
     - Fortune's Favor (p.11, BtW)
     - Halfling Spirit (p. 31, BtW) 
     - Small Stature (p.31, BtW) 

Saving Throws
Poison 14 
Breath Weapon 17 
Polymorph 15 
Spell 17 
Magic Item 16

Fortune Points: 5

Equipment: A dagger, a very fine saddle, bags filled with food and rations, leather armor (+2 AC), a wooden shield (+1 AC), bow, quiver with 12 arrows, and 12 silvers

Jasper, Loyal Outrider Cohort
Class: Warrior-Rogue       Level: 1       Title: Observer Cohort      Alignment: Lawful
DEX: 9 (+0)      STR: 16 (+2)        CON: 17 (+2)        INT: 12 (+0)        WIS: 13 (+1)        CHA: 7 (-1)
Hit Dice: d10
Hit Points: 10
Armor Class: 13 (leather armor); 14 (leather armor + wooden shield)
Initiative Bonus: +2           Initiative (DEX bonus + Knack + Initiative Bonus + Level): 4
Base Attack Bonus: +1      Total Attack Bonus: +2

Skills: Animal Ken, Survival
Knack: Fleet (+1 Initiative)
Special Abilities
     - Fortune's Favor (p.11, BtW)
     - I'm A Dog: Dogs have a base AC of 12, receive a +1 bonus to bite (1d4 damage), and have no hands.

Saving Throws
Poison 14 
Breath Weapon 17 
Polymorph 15 
Spell 17 
Magic Item 16

Fortune Points: 5

Equipment: Specially made leather barding/armor (AC+2) 

Design Notes: While Beyond the Wall does have the Village Bear playbook, it doesn't really have anything with regard to playing other intelligent animals in the vein of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia or even anthropomorphic animals along the lines of Brian Jacques' Redwall series. This is something I intend to write on at a later date, but with this particular project in mind, I went through the Village Bear playbook and basically modified it for a dog by substituting the dog stats from the rulebook bestiary for the bear stats given in the playbook.

Oddly, the Village Bear playbook initially gives the character the Warrior-Rogue class, but later talks about the character's class being Village Bear. In light of the synergy I wanted to establish between Ayla and Jasper, I stuck with the Warrior-Rogue class. At the same time, I thought it better to give Jasper the Animal Ken skill, which I better defined for my games here. In short, Animal Ken is the better choice as it gives Jasper the ability to speak with other animals.

In order to get the pair's backgrounds, skills, and abilities to have the right synergy, I built both characters by hand, picking entries from the tables as I saw fit, trying to keep in mind the fact that the only restriction Ayla faces as a halfling is a maximum STR score of 10. The Halfling Outrider playbook can be found in the free Dwarves, Elves and Halflings supplement or Heroes Young and Old. Ayla's title of "Observer" comes from the article "Scouting for More Options" by Kim Eastland, which appeared in Dragon #161. The full table of titles for the scout class (or in this case the halfling outrider) is as follows:

Level - Title
  1 - Observer
  2 - Spotter
  3 - Pointman
  4 - Outrider
  5 - Vanguard
  6 - Forerunner
  7 - Huntsman
  8 - Spy
  9 - Scout

10 - Master Scout

The stats for the Black Boar can be found on page 3 of The Village. If you want stats for Jasper's would-be master, the cruel hunter, use the stats for the Wicked Hunter on page 2 of Beyond the Cave.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

2016: The Year of 大象爆炸式的拉肚子

Oh, 2016, I'm going to end you... in 30 more days... You've been warned.

As my NaNoWriMo 2016 trainwreck ends, I can only look back and shake my head. Honestly, I don't know if I should laugh or cry. Maybe I'll do both; the question then is which to do first. I started the month so pumped that I was going to dive in and start the hardcore work on Project Frying Pan. Then November 8 turned around and whacked me upside the head with said Frying Pan.

With the exception of my early days of battling depression, I have never before experienced such a poisonous month. Depression and anxiety basically dug a hole, threw me in, and then did their business on me. Fortunately, I've had the support and love of my wife, friends, and family to buoy me and I'm going for a medication check up in mid-December.

This past month we also saw a number of people try to turn the gaming hobby and industry into their personal bully pulpits, pushing their agendas through misguided (and futile) petitions and creating "orangelists" of people who offend them. This has further fueled my exile from local fandom and gaming, which started earlier this year. During this time I've done some thinking; I've come to the conclusion that the situation is not entirely one person or group's fault. In a sense, I gave a group of narrow-minded, petty individuals what they wanted by leaving the convention scene. I'm sure my initial griping about the matter was just the icing on the cake for them, and I've spent the past two months - November in particular as things have built up - keeping silent on the matter while trying to get the bile and poison out of my system.

I was personally torn as to whether or not I should address those subjects here in more livid detail. Instead, I sat on my hands and looked at both situations as lessons on why you shouldn't engage monkeys in shit-flinging contests.

Oh, and then, to cap off the gloom of the month, we lost our favorite Shepherd, Ron Glass, and the Grandmaster of the Kai Lords, Joe Dever.

It's December now. I want very much to look at and experience the last month of this year as a season of light in the darkness of winter. I'm entering the month with multiple objectives I intend to complete most or all of before the year is out, in no particular order:
  • Complete Project Jasper as I promised Benoist Poire.
  • Complete revision work on my GM's reference pack for Beyond the Wall.
  • Work with a co-worker and fellow gamer on a project to engage, entertain, and maybe even educate our shelter clients through RPGs.
  • Further define the universe and characters of Project Frying Pan via a mix of the Cepheus Engine, Traveller, and  D6 systems.
  • Complete the necessary research for Project Frying Pan's plotline.
  • Make more friends - gaming and non-gaming - and have more fun.
  • Pursue River City Shadows in particular and gaming in general with renewed vigor.

In case anybody is wondering, 大象爆炸式的拉肚子 is Mandarin for "the explosive diarrhea of an elephant". Oh, 2016, you're so ironic...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

For Jasper

While I hadn't planned to write a blog entry until later this weekend (as I'm taking a brief break from NaNoWriMo tonight and possibly tomorrow), an item in my Facebook stream caught my eye. The main item was from a friend expressing frustration over how some gamers can be so inhuman... That in itself is a story and discussion in itself. What caught my eye was a response from one of his fellow designers expressing anger and disgust over an incident which hit close to home:
"A couple of days ago, Jasper, my neighbor's dog, one of my best friends with my boys... was roped by a man, dragged away and shot dead because he was deemed an annoyance. I just learned about it this morning.
"(Update: The RCMP was contacted and though there were witnesses to Jasper's roping, there were none for his shooting. No witnesses, no arrest. Sigh. But read on.)
"You've seen me post about Oafy the Chaos Muppet before. I'm brainstorming about a way to make Jasper a staple, a recurring aid or NPC, to the HSD and the Marmoreal Tomb. An icon along with Oafy, something that is awesome for the game, and respectful of who this awesome dog was in life.

"I also call on whoever would be inspired by this to go ahead and post stuff about Jasper, use his memory as a way to channel your love of all our furry friends, and create awesome stuff for the game. Go ahead.

"Stay tuned. For Jasper."
It's no secret to my friends and family that I'm an animal lover. I grew up on a farm with a dog and countless farm cats over the years, and, despite my allergies, will not hesitate to play with a person's pet if they allow it. My wife, who is also allergic to animal dander, is just as much an animal lover as I. Both of us have a burning hatred of animal abusers.

I never knew Jasper, nor do I personally know the person who posted this sad news. At the same time, I have no connection to or experience with the Hobby Shop Dungeon (HSD) or the poster's project. However, I have known the love of several loyal dogs, all of whom I know would have laid down their lives for me. Despite batting 1 for 3 in that respect, I'm going to write some things in the vein suggested by the poster this weekend for one or more systems under the banner of Project Jasper.

Whether or not you know the poster personally; whether or not you have adventured in the Hobby Shop Dungeon or have contributed to the Kickstarter; if you love animals, I encourage you to spread the word and post something for Jasper on your favorite forum or your own blog. If you can spare the money, buy and donate supplies and toys to an animal shelter or humane society near you. Better yet, if you can spare the time, volunteer there. Both you and the animals will be glad you did. I'm sure Jasper would be glad too.