Monday, November 28, 2016

(Pocket) Monstrous Monday: Underground Elemental Beastfighting (Revisited)

I was hoping to get this post up today, to get started again on Monstrous Mondays...and then seeing the excellent post by Tim over at The Other Side (on a "monster naturalist" campaign) energized me to make sure I wrote a bit about the 'Mons this week.

Pokémon has seen a bit of a surge in retro fun lately, starting with the focus on first-generation monsters in Pokémon Go.  Then, earlier this month, the newest set for the trading card game (Evolutions) dropped in English, also revisiting a bunch of G1 critters to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise.  And this new set doesn't just feature the older monsters; some of the cards are essentially identical to those from the game's very first set, and some are updated just enough to take into account the game's power creep over the years.

For example, back at the start of the game, one of the most dangerous Pokémon in the game was the quick- and hard-hitting basic beast Hitmonchan.  His original card looked like this:

Back in 1999, that was a force to be reckoned with.  Today, those stats aren't nearly as impressive.  So, for the new set, the designers have given us this:

Basically, they took a B/X character and converted it to Pathfinder.

Now, overall, this seems like it would be easy to chalk up to lazy design and an attempt to grab more of players' money while putting out minimal effort.  I'll admit, though...these nods to the game as it used to be make me want to pick it up and play again!  (And that's coming from someone who ridiculous as this probably sounds...that there might be a legitimate ethical problem at the heart of the Pokémon franchise.)

So, for today's Monster Monday, I'd like to start getting into the habit again of statting up monsters for the Underground Elemental Beastfighting theme that I've explored a little here on this blog.  It'll be easy this first time around...I'm just going to take a few of the beasts from the new TCG set and convert them to generic old school RPG monsters.  (Quick and dirty conversion rules:  HP/10, 1d6/30 damage, HD = Level/20 rounded up, bonus to hit for 1-energy attacks, penalties for attacks requiring 3+ energy, AC based on retreat cost...and a few little tweaks here and there...)

So let's see...may as well start with some basic elements that form a nice triangle, and go from there...

Start with water...

...which is sure to be good against fire...

...which should burn wood pretty easily...

...and bring us right back 'round to water.

Happy Monstrous Monday, all!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

8-bit Legend of Zelda battle map

This weekend, I decided to take on another quest to put my university's resources to good use before I no longer have access to them.  I'd been thinking for a while that I should use our poster printer to make some sort of battle map or game board, but I wasn't sure what to print.  Lately, I'd become intrigued by how nicely the layout of the map from the original Legend of Zelda would work as a gridded battlefield, so I decided to give that a try.  Here's the 36" x 48" result:

(Presley's just there for scale.  I guess.  Honestly, getting in the picture was mostly her decision.)

I put a grid of thin white lines over it to divide it into (roughly) 1-inch squares.  (Apologies for all photography from here on out...I need to figure out how to take better closeups of minis...)

It certainly didn't come out perfect, as you can see by the line crossing over the right side of the dark "doorway" pictured below...and the white lines are tough to see on some of the lighter terrain...but overall, I'm pretty darn happy with it!

Now, I just have to figure out what to do with it.  It's actually been a while since I've had much use for a battle map divided into 5-foot squares.  I know I could use it for an RPG or minis game that doesn't need a grid, but now that I've gone to all that effort...maybe I can put the squares to use.

Hmm.  I haven't played HeroClix in a really long time, and while the squares are a bit small compared to Clix maps, it would probably work okay.

I'm thinking it would be a perfect battlefield for the old 3.5-era D&D miniatures game.  (I never actually played that in a head-to-head fashion, but I did use some of the stuff in the Miniatures Handbook in regular D&D.  I liked it quite a bit!)  Maybe I can do some sort of hybrid of D&D Minis with OSR rules...taking some cues from the game I play with Lego...?  There have to be some cool Zelda or not-Zelda miniatures out there.  Heck, some basic Greenskins would probably work as Moblin minis (though they should maybe become Blueskins):

If I had started this months ago, I may have gone to the effort to print up the whole dang map from The Legend of Zelda.  That could be a hell of a campaign!

Now, to see if I have access to a university laminator...

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Rufus the Bobcat vs. Brutus Buckeye

It's one of the biggest weeks of the year for college football fans.  With my Georgia State Panthers on a bye week, and the Iron Bowl looking like it could be a bloodbath, I guess my greatest interest today may lie in the huge Michigan-Ohio State matchup that kicks off in just a few minutes.

This seems like a great time to revisit one of my favorite unscripted moments in mascot history...that time that Ohio University's Rufus the Bobcat went crazy and attacked OSU's Brutus Buckeye...

And...another angle...

Actually, "favorite" might be overstating the way I feel about this incident.  I suppose it's kind of like the recent American presidential election...somewhat entertaining to watch it unfold, but please (oh please), don't let it become the norm.

The story behind the assault on Brutus might be even more entertaining than the event itself.  Rufus (or his alter ego, at least) apparently had it out for The Nut-Headed One for a while.

Friday, November 25, 2016

'Tis the Season...?

Lots of folks bemoan the early arrival of the "official" holiday season each year.  I have a feeling a lot of that is based on the fact that we take our holiday cues largely from commercial entities...which, yeah, are often worth bemoaning.  I dislike the way Thanksgiving has largely become a countdown to great deals.  (And I dislike the way my attempts to ignore that aspect of it mean that I'm probably missing out on great deals.)

However...I do love me some holiday cheer and holiday traditions...and it's never too early for those, right?  Laura and I spent our Thanksgiving evening decorating for Christmas...up went the (artificial) tree, the stockings for all of the four-legged Linnemans, the garland over every window and picture frame, and the ridiculous lights on the front of the house.

And...that most sacred of Linneman holiday traditions...the playing of The Nightmare Before Christmas!  If I ever need to be reminded to just smile and enjoy the simple magic to be found this time of year...there's this...!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Check out this great random deity generator...

I've been meaning to post a link to this gem for a while...

I'm currently playing in an online game of The Black Hack over at The Unseen Servant forum. seems to have stalled, as forum games so often do, but I was playing in one (and it was good fun!).  Both of my characters (yep, both as in the first one's dead) have been clerics, and when it came time to choose a deity, all I knew was that my first assistant-to-the-vicar probably worshipped some sort of sun god.

That's when Joel Priddy (cartoonist, fellow forum roleplayer, and keeper of the great blog An Abominable Fancy) stepped in with this awesome 5d30 random patron deity generator:

Now, I suppose that's readable as-is, but I hope you'll check out the source I yanked it from, the cleric packet from Joel's excellent series of Boilerplate Fantasy Playbooks.  Once posted to the forum, our DM rolled up a series of random gods, and the very first one...Tawmis, the Red Eagle of the Golden Heavens...sounded like my solar deity right out of the gate.  (If you want to know, my second cleric follows Yiol, the Pure Judgment of the Harvest.  Also a winner!)

Joel has also posted a 5d20 version of the table and a fun exercise in googling up images to represent the gods generated.

Tawmis seems easily represented by this picture:

This one, meanwhile, seems like it will require a little more creativity in the way of backstory...

Friday, November 18, 2016

The soldiers of S.L.O.P., part 2

I had a lot of time today to sit around anxiously waiting for word on how close I am to moving on from this portion of my academic career, so naturally, I tried to make myself feel better by thinking about the Swine Legion Opposing Persecution.  (Yeah, I think I've decided I like "Legion" better than "League.")

I figured S.L.O.P. needs some sort of logo patch, so I made this.

There's a lot of white space, but maybe that can be personalized from soldier to soldier.  Rank insignia, nicknames, slogans, whatever.

I also thought the logo would probably be used as a tattoo among the fighters.

(I really like that Rambo-pig.  If you do, too, you should check out artist leshaussebons' DeviantArt page!)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The soldiers of S.L.O.P.

I really wanted to get a quick(?) post in today...something to put a little gaming goodness on my mind, which has lately been occupied by my work, worrying about my work, and worrying about my country (in some order).  I've been able to surf the blogosphere some, but I need to let my mind wander with some good old geeky brainstorming.  So here I go...

David over at The OSR Library has put up a couple of posts on an excellent OSR funnel/adventure called Caveman vs. the Fire Apes.  His work really has me thinking about how fun it could be to run funnel-type adventures as a regular mode of gaming - just pick a genre that seems fun, run a really deadly adventure for a session or so, then move on to another before anyone gets bored.  At the very least, I think it'd be fun to design some of these, as a way to explore OSR gaming in a variety of genres without investing in a full campaign.  So...what would I like start with?  Inspiration struck this morning:

When we take the dogs to our regular hiking trail, we always pass by this place...

...and I'm always entertained by it.  Why?  Well, the backstory has to do with all the time I've spent driving around small towns on or near the coast for my work.  My coworker Meril is Indian, and during our trip several years ago to the Florida panhandle, he decided he'd like to experience a good old all-you-can-eat Southern-cookin' buffet.  We found one at this small restaurant (I'm afraid I can't remember the name) that happened to be one of those barbecue places that decorates with all sorts of happy - and often anthropomorphic - pigs.  Now, I remember back in the day, when I lived in Macon, GA, that I was often amused by the logo for Satterfield's Restaurant and Catering:

Pretty danged insensitive when you think about it from the pig's perspective, eh?  It's a smoking pig.  Hrm.  Now, I'll "admit" that I avoid eating pig...but even to those who love to consume the Other White Meat, there's something weird about that, right?   Anyway, for some reason, during that meal with Meril, the whole pig-promoting-BBQ thing finally struck me as one of the most ridiculous phenomena I would get to see regularly while driving around these United States.  Those happy hogs imploring you to eat the flesh of their brethren are everywhere.

Now, I know I'm not the first to be entertained by this.  There's a TV Tropes page for Let's Meet the Meat, and I've actually just discovered (while looking up some stuff for this post) the amazing, but now abandoned, blog Suicide Food, which specializes in pointing out these nihilistic marketing stories.  (Seriously, check out that site can find stuff like this fascinating logo for the Smokey & The One Arm Bandit BBQ Team...)

So, where am I going with this?  Well, after that meal, as Meril and I spent hours in the car passing many of these local eateries, we began to spin the legend of Justice Pig, the anthropomorphic hog whose mission in life is to rescue...and avenge...those of his species who have been forced to take on these humiliating roles in promotion of their own slaughter.  I've always imagined him as a Rambo-style commando, something like this:

(Be sure to check out artist leshaussebons's DeviantArt page, by the way...that's where I snagged that pic!)

He even had some catchy slogans:

Have another helping...of JUSTICE!


He's tough.
He's angry.
He's PINK!

Now that I think about it, Meril and I must have gotten pretty loopy on those trips.

Ah, so, where I'm going with this is that I'm thinking:  Why not make a funnel-type adventure for warriors like Justice Pig?  I can go with something like the Swine League Opposing Persecution (S.L.O.P.), dedicated to securing the freedom of rational pigs everywhere who are being held in marketing servitude.  The deadly nature of a funnel matches up with the life-and-death subject matter, and I even get to make a little bit of a statement about how ridiculous our approach to the use of animals can be, hopefully without coming across like some self-righteous a-hole.

So...first step, hopefully soon...I guess I need an OSR anthropomorphic pig race.

Looking forward to this.