A to Z 2015 Is Coming

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Yes, I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge again this year. This will be the fourth year of my participation, and I’ve got a wonderful theme for April.

I’ll not reveal much about the theme at this time except to say that combines music, intrigue, dancing, knights in shining armor, and adventure. If you’re interested in seeing my posts for the last few years, see the links below:

A to Z 2012
A to Z 2013
A to Z 2014

March 27th, 2015  in RPG No Comments »

Jasper’s Starfish Dragon

In my last post, I imagined Jasper, son of Laryssa and John Payne, as the superheroic Crayola Kid. I also explained that Jasper needs ear surgery to help improve his hearing. At the time of this writing, the Payne family has raised $2,050 of $4,300 needed for Jasper’s medical bills. Check out the Paynes’ GoFundMe page. I’m planning on another donation by Spes Magna Games at the end of this month once my March sales receipts are deposited to my PayPal account. I’m also hoping that the little bit of exposure my posts bring might inspire others who can to be generous.

Of course, I need something gaming related for this post, and so this time I’ve statted up Jasper’s starfish dragon (click on the pic to embiggen the image).

The Starfish Dragon

Deep beneath the waves of the vast sea lurks the starfish dragon. The size of a galleon, supernaturally strong and invulnerable to all but the most powerful weapons, it seldom surfaces except to protect its territory against hostile interlopers. When the starfish dragon attacks, it stirs up massive waves and then tears the hull open from underneath. It usually then descends back to its depths, leaving the sailors to the mercy of the elements.

For Dungeon World

Intelligent, Magical, Hoarder, Huge, Solitary
Tentacles (b[2d10]+5 damage, +2 piercing)
20 HP
4 Armor
Forceful, Messy, Reach
Special Qualities: Aquatic, know the deeps, nigh-invulnerable scales
Instinct: To terrorize the weak
* Crush with tentacles
* Exhale unquenchable fire
* Toss massive waves

For Swords & Wizardry

HD 10; AC 1 (18); Atks 3 tentacles (1d8), 1 bite (3d6); SV 5; Special +1 or better weapon to hit, 35% magic resistance, breathe cone of fire (10d8 with save for half damage), control ocean waters; MV 6 (Swim 21); AL N; CL/XP 14/2,600

March 22nd, 2015  in RPG No Comments »

The Crayola Kid Needs Your Help

Jasper, son of Laryssa and John Payne, needs ear surgery to help improve his hearing. Even with the family’s insurance, the looming bill for the surgery weighs in at more than $4,000. Laryssa and John have set up a GoFundMe page, hoping that folks of good will will decide to help a young boy and his parents. I don’t know Jasper, Laryssa, or John, but do know the difficulties a family can face because of health problems. If you can help and want to help, please do so.

And, in the interest of gaming material, here’s my Marvel Heroic Roleplaying datafile inspired by Jasper (who is the artist of the starfish dragon, on which you can click to embiggen, featured in this post).

The Crayola Kid
aka Jasper

Affiliations
Solo d6, Buddy d8, Team d10

Distinctions
Big Imagination, Intrepid, Plucky Kid

Power Sets
Force of Imagination
Big Silver Badge d6, Box of Crayons d6, Toy Gun d6
* SFX – 64 Colors. Add a d6 and step up the effect die by +1 when the Crayola Kid uses his colors to create image-based assets.
* SFX – Bang! Add a d6 and step up the effect die by +1 when he inflicts an “I’ve Been Shot!” complication on a target.
* SFX – Focus. In a pool including a Force of Imagination die, replace two dice of equal size with one die +1 step larger
* SFX – In the Name of Law. Before an action including a Force of Imagination power, the Crayola Kid may move his current emotional stress die to the doom pool. He steps up the Force of Imagination power this action.
* SFX – Gear. Shutdown a Force of Imagination power and gain 1 PP. Take an action against the doom pool to recover.

Specialties
Acrobatics Rookie d6

February 23rd, 2015  in RPG No Comments »

The Terror of Toys

So, I started reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s Roverandom last night. I’ve long maintained that all good children’s stories must have an element of fear, darkness, et cetera, in them. Tolkien obviously agreed. Rover, after being turned into a toy, complains that he wants to run and bark and play. Other toys chide Rover, telling him to be quiet because the more a toy gets played with, the quicker it wears out, breaks, gets discarded and so forth.

In other words, the very thing that a toy is made for is the thing which a toy dreads.

Excellently dark.

Of course, I could not help but think of the fantasy game implications of Tolkien’s tale. In short:

1. Toys are sentient, capable of communication, and are motile. We don’t know they’re sentient because we can’t hear them talk or see them move. Toys can’t move when they’re watched, and even when not watched most move very slowly, especially if they aren’t appropriately articulated. A block of wood carved into the shape of a horse can perhaps wobble a little bit and fall over, but that’s about it.

2. Toys don’t like being played with. They want to be left alone, kept in mint condition on display on a shelf out of reach of children’s fingers.

3. Toys fear death at the hands of children. They also fear being discarded or lost, which likely leaves them at the mercy of the elements, nibbling rodents, and so forth.

Thus, the life of a toy tends to be limited and full of dread. Toys are created by thoughtless craftsmen to endure torture and eventual destruction, all to amuse children who are oblivious to the terror they inflict.

Quite understandably, many toys become quite bitter, even hateful, especially of children. Rarely, one of these toys entreats whatever powers might listen for aid, and Cro† infrequently decides to intervene. In his mercy and his cruelty, he grants the toy magical powers, almost always including the ability cast Animate Object, but in such a way that it can affect dozens of toys at the same time. Individually, few of these animated toys pose much of a threat, but acting in concert against a terrified child alone in his playroom….

†Cro, the God of Truth, Chaos, and Opposites. Cro always speaks the truth. Cro always lies. Cro stands firm against what is evil. Cro revels in evil, his hands stained with innocent blood. Cro is all things, and all things are Cro.

February 4th, 2015  in RPG 1 Comment »

Roland and the Ogres

During our last Man Day Dungeon World game, my son Christopher lost another character. His cleric, Brother Hurak, fell in combat against the forces of evil. This week, while we’re on Christmas vacation, Christopher made up his new character, Roland the Paladin, and we decided to take him out for a test drive. I downloaded Michael Prescott’s Tannòch Rest-of-Kings, and started to ask Christopher some questions:

Q. Why are you going back to Tannòch?
A. To visit the nuns who nursed me back to health. Also, to visit the mausoleum to see if it reveals anything interesting about the history of the region.

Q. Why did you need nursing?
A. Injured by cannon shot during a fight against paynim pirates.

Q. Mother Marta doesn’t like you. Why?
A. I offended her somehow. (The nature of the offense remains undefined.)

Q. To get to Tannòch, you have to take a boat from a nearby island settlement. What is that settlement’s name?
A. Pterx.

Roland started on the beach near Pterx. The natives mostly earn their livelihood by fishing. Roland approached the village chief and asked about passage to Tannòch. Robert, the chief, named a price, but Roland confessed he had no coins. He did offer to work for his passage, so Robert introduced Roland to Kemp and his sons, Jethro and Jedd. Kemp told Roland that he could earn his passage by working the following day out of the reef, diving for oysters. Roland agreed and spent a quiet night on the beach.

Early in the morning, Kemp woke Roland, who left behind most of his gear since scalemail and a halberd wouldn’t be much use in an outrigger canoe heading out for oysters. Kemp instructed Roland as the proper use of a sturdy fishing knife and the net-bag tied to his belt. Roland dived with Jethro. The first few dives were uneventful, but during the third dive Roland noticed that Jethro had vanished. Thinking quickly, Roland found Jethro grappling with a deadly hooked octopus in a recessed section of the reef. Roland swam to the rescue, bringing his bear hands to bare against the dangerous cephalopod mollusc. The fight was short and fierce, and Roland drove the creature away, but not before he’d suffered some injuries. Jethro had been hurt badly.

When the group returned to Pterx, news of Roland’s heroic rescue of Jethro spread quickly. He was feted by the locals, hailed as a man of courage and nobility. Chief Robert gave him a finely made scarlet cloak as a gift. The next day, refreshed and ready, Kemp personally rowed Roland out to Tannòch, saying he’d be back in a week to fetch the paladin. Roland climbed up the rugged caldera until the interior saltwater lake came into sight. There, in the lake’s middle, stood Rest-of-Kings. Roland took one of the rowboats tied up at the nearby quay.

Tying off the boat at the base of the stairs leading switchback up to the tower, Roland began the climb. He was about halfway up to the door when a hulking figure, silhouetted by the noonday sun, lurched into view atop the parapet.

“Leave tribute to me, or I’ll kill you and lick your brains from the bowl of your skull!” the figure growled.

“Who are you?” Roland replied.

The figure lobbed a sizeable rock at Roland. The paladin through himself forward, avoiding the stone, which smashed into the stairs behind him. Unfortunately, he landed clumsily, and the impact jarred his halberd from his grasp. The weapon slid over the edge of the stairs, dropping several yards before it wedged in a rocky crack. Roland slid over the edge, dropping after his weapon. Another rock struck him from behind, spinning him into the air. He rolled and bounced, and both he and his halberd splashed into the water below. Standing waist deep in warm saltwater, Roland spotted a sinewy, slick-skinned monstrous humanoid slicing through the water. As it lunged out of the water, claws and fangs bared, Roland snatched up his halberd and attacked. The polearm bit deep into the ogre’s body, but the monster’s momentum slammed Roland hard into the rocks.

Taking stock of his injuries and surroundings, Roland noticed the half-eaten corpse of a nun in the water nearby. The glint of metal in her clenched fingers caught his eye. Roland pried the ring of keys from her dead hand. He also noticed that a deep crevice in the rocks at the waterline led into a cave. Figuring the rock-tosser on the parapet couldn’t hit him if he were underground, Roland entered the cave. He climbed up a bit and found a relatively flat surface on which he could rest. Time passed.

Hours later, Roland lit his lantern and explored deeper into the caves. He eventually found himself in a higher, smaller cave. Part of the cave wall had been dug away, revealing a brick wall, which had been partially breached, presumably by the now-dead dwarf lying under some rubble. Roland squeezed his way through the gap in the wall, finding himself in the mausoleum in the tower’s substructure. It soon became obvious that someone or something had been smashing open the burial spaces and breaking the urns kept therein. Roland soon found the looter, a monstrous, one-eyed ogre. Before Roland could act, a gust of charnel-house wind roared through the chamber, and Roland’s lantern went out, plunging the paladin into absolute darkness. An instant later, the monster lifted Roland and hurled him roughly against a wall. The lantern shattered.

“Give me the diadem of the weylords,” a sibilant voice hissed in the blackness.

Fumbling in the dark for a torch, Roland stalled, admitting he didn’t have the diadem. He asked why it was desired.

“My master, Halad al Bim, promised it to me, but upon his death, it was brought to this place and interred herein.”

Roland remembered that he had seen a tomb marker with Halad’s name engraved upon it. “I can take you there if I can see,” the paladin said.

Shortly, the torch was lit. The monstrous creature, who called itself Stanus Ash-Eater, made promises that Roland knew would not be kept. He also deduced that the monster’s bizarre appearance probably meant that Stanus was not a natural ogre, but had been magically transformed into his current shape. Roland, followed by Stanus, returned to Halad’s tomb marker. The paladin opened it and pulled out the urn. Stanus roared, exhaling noxious black fumes which forced their way into Roland’s lungs, inducing weakness. Roland invoked his divine authority and told Stanus to back off. The ogre retreated, but demanded the diadem. Roland dug into the urn, discovering nothing but ashes.

“It’s not here,” Roland said.

Stanus charged. The fight was brief and bloody. Roland rammed his halberd’s spike into Stanus’s good eye, driving the monster across the room, crushing his skull against the stones. Roland sustained injuries as Stanus’s powerful arms lashed out before the ogre died.

“Oh, thank Cicollius,” said a woman’s voice.

Roland whirled about to see Mother Marta standing near the opposite wall.

“You must help me, Roland,” Mother Marta said. “This ogre is not the only one who….”

Her words trailed off. Roland caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Rising from a pool of Stanus’s blood mixed with funerary ashes was an emaciated figure, covered in gore. Its eyes burned with madness.

“At last, I live again! Return to me my diadem!”

Roland interposed himself between the ghoul and Mother Marta just as the senior nun disappeared into the wall. The ghoul’s powerful, fanged maw crunched into Roland’s right elbow. As the paladin staggered away, the ghoul noisily chewed and swallowed bone and flesh.

“Mother Marta is the one I seek,” it gurgled, and then raced off into the darkness.

Roland, seriously injured, collapsed.

“Get up, Roland,” Mother Marta said, stepping back through the wall. “No time to rest. I cannot evade that creature forever. Take this dagger. You can’t wield that halberd with only one arm.”

Mother Marta bound up Roland’s wounds with special wrappings and poultices, healing some of his lesser injuries.

“How are you able to move through walls? Are you a ghost?”

“Tut, tut, young man. I’m no such thing. I carry with me the collected artifacts stored in Rest-of-Kings, including the periapt of the earthen kings. With it, I move through stone as if it were water.”

“Take me out of here,” Roland demanded.

“It doesn’t work that way,” Mother Marta said. “Now quit your dithering and kill that ghoul.”

With that, she vanished into a wall again. Roland grumbled and set out in the direction the ghoul had run. He found it quickly enough, spotting it in time to avoid its ambush. In a fearsome battle, the pair rolled and grappled, Roland stabbing with the dagger, the ghoul slashing with its fangs and claws. As the silver-bladed weapon bit into the monster, Roland felt it possible to acquire the creature’s knowledge by eating some of it, and that, if he chose, he gnaw off part of the undead horror while fighting. Roland ignored these options, and finally rammed the blade deep into the ghoul’s black, ichor-filled heart.

Mother Marta reappeared again. “Well done, paladin. Well done. Now rest, and let me minister to your wounds.”

More time passed. Mother Marta’s healing arts restored Roland’s strength and healed his elbow, but not without leaving behind some ruddy scar tissue. She explained that three ogres, led by Stanus, attacked Rest-of-Kings several days ago. Most of the nuns were killed when the ogres set fire to the upper floors, which partially collapsed.

“One ogre remains, Roland. You must slay her, but the climb up the parapet will be difficult. She has locked the trapdoor leading up to the parapet from the ruined upper floor.”

Roland produced the key ring. “Will these help?”

“Indeed they will.”

Several minutes later, halberd in hand, Roland was gingerly making his way through the ruined, rubble-choked upper floors. The locked trapdoor was in view. He reached out to grab a bit of cornice, hoping to steady his way along a narrow ledge overhanging a drop of several yards. The cornice crumbled loose under his weight, pulling down a section of the ceiling as well. Roland fell, and a large slab of rock landed on him. As he looked up through the hole in the ceiling, a monstrous hag with nails like iron spikes crawled into view and started to descend spider-like toward Roland.

“Time to lick your brains from the bowl of your skull!”

The ogress pounced, and Roland roared with the effort of hefting the stone slab. It toppled partially onto the ogress. Roland swung his halberd, striking a powerful blow. The ogress hissed in rage and fear, scrambling up the wall toward the hole in the ceiling. Roland hurled his halberd like a spear, but to no effect. The monster vanished from sight, and Roland climbed up after it, but not with its speed and nimbleness. As he emerged through the hole leading up to the parapet, a rock slammed into his hip.

Roland rolled to his feet. The ogress stood on the other side of the tower’s upper spaces, a large rock in each clawed hand. Roland charged. The ogress through the first rock, which Roland blocked with his gauntleted hand. He heard and felt hand bones crack. He swung his good fist at the monster, but it hoisted him overhead. Just as it threw him off the tower’s roof, Roland rammed a brutal jab into the monster’s forehead. Bone collapsed. Eyes bulged and bled. Roland tumbled through the air, catching a projection. His momentum and weight popped his shoulder out of socket. As he blacked out from the pain, he started to fall again.

And then woke with a start in a bed. Mother Marta sat nearby.

“Rest, Roland,” she said. “Fortunately, I was able to use the periapt’s power to help catch you before you fell to your death. Well done, young man. Well done.”

December 28th, 2014  in Man-Day Adventures No Comments »