Monday, December 28, 2020

Musical Monday: Superman's Best Songs (Part II)...and more on Light City's Brick

There are a lot of Superman songs out there.  Here's another one I like.

I remember first hearing this when it was the "B-side" (both songs were actually on both sides) of the cassette single of the Crash Test Dummies' remarkably popular song "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm."

Not my copy, although I guess it'd be kinda cool if I still had it.  Hmm...

Yep.  The cassette single.

I would go on to pick up the entire God Shuffled His Feet album, and I really enjoyed it at the time.  It's also worth noting that I've gone back and listened to it quite a bit over the last year, and I have to say, as a record, it's not only held up, but it's even better now that I'm older and have a little more life experience with which to frame the lyrics.  It touches on existentialism, maybe even Gnosticism...really it's just brilliant stuff that 16-year-old me couldn't comprehend.  Not that I can really comprehend it now...but that's kind of the album's point, I think...

That little aside...aside..."Superman's Song" was actually on their earlier album The Ghosts That Haunt Me, which I'm not sure I've ever heard in its entirety...but based upon my recently renewed love for God Shuffled His Feet, I really need to give it a listen.

Oh yeah!  The song.  It's fantastic...even if it is, as hilariously pointed out by one YouTube commenter, "[t]he most anti-Tarzan song I've ever heard."  Pretty cool video, too.

Now...let's continue talking about Superman, Light City, and The Brick a little bit.  As I've mentioned, I'd like the Brick class for Light City to allow such a character to be shaped into some variant of a Brick-PLUS, with some of the "classic" extra powers added to taste.  Mysterious francophone Light City co-conspirator soner du suggested an "exaltation" at levels 4 and 6, to be chosen from a power menu.  Their suggestions:

"flight, AC bonus, save bonus, damage bonus, bad-ass signature weapon, etc."

This certainly seems like the way to go, with some of the choices (or maybe the "default" option, for which the menu pick substitutes) lending themselves to more "pure" Brick types like the Thing.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the add-ons are going to need to start before level 4.  I had intended the three levels of The Brick in The Assembly to hold up to the class's expansion, but that might not be feasible.

At any rate, I suppose the question right now is:  What are the powers that need to be included such that most reasonable variants of a Brick are covered?  I think soner du touched on the biggest ones.  Flight is a given.  Using a specific weapon is probably important to cover stuff like Thor's hammer.  I'd say some kind of blasting, like Superman's heat vision and Captain Marvel's (er, Shazam's) lightning bolts, should be in there.  Some amount of super speed is probably a must.

Should X-ray vision be on the list?  That's so specific, but it certainly seems important in the Supes equation.  But then what about some kind of super breath?  At what point does the class just become an exercise in listing all of the things Superman has been able to do over the years?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

On Santa's Elves

Christmas is almost upon us!  My buddy Josh was kind enough to indulge me in running through this deadly little adventure that I wrote a few years back:

We started him out with a six-elf team on the mission to save the kidnapped Baby New Year, but the initial leprechaun encounter (oh, uh...spoiler alert!) made it clear that he should go ahead and call in some reinforcements.  Six of the twelve total made it through to the end...which is pretty much on par with the level of deadliness I'm going for with the adventure.

I think that by next year's holiday season, I'd like to put together a revised/expanded/improved edition of In Bleakest Midwinter.  It was written pretty loosely as a funnel-type activity that can be played with whatever system and approach to character creation you can make work, although it does have a very basic system in place, with the assumptions of that system outlined.  At any rate, I'm wondering if it might benefit from a little more rules density, even if it's just a bit of silly holiday "rules dressing" that's interesting to read.

I guess I figure there are probably three main categories of folks who are going to get something valuable out of a small work like In Bleakest Midwinter.  There are those who will just want to read over it for fun and/or inspiration, most of whom would probably benefit from additional rules text, as long as it's evocative and not just a grind to read through (or skip over!).  There are some who will want to run it in their system of choice, most of whom will be just as likely to do so having to convert a little bit of crunch as they would be having to add on their own bit of crunch.  And then there are those who will want to run the game exactly as written, and I could probably have added a lot more to make the adventure interesting for those folks.

All of this has me thinking about Santa's Elves, and about the idea I threw out there recently of using D&D 5E races in White Box-style games.  I like the idea of approaching the elves in the game like a 5E race...there are enough specifics in 5E rules to give some nice flavor, and they can almost certainly be crafted to not be overpowered in the context of the adventure.

What?  Oh, yes, I am essentially thinking out loud.  I appreciate your reading.

I also hope you have the absolute happiest of holidays, by the way!

Now, off to look over 5E gnomes.  After all, that's what Santa's Elves are, aren't they?

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

5e Races (or Ancestries/Cultures) in OSR games...why not?

 I recently picked up this book when I found a really good deal on it:

This is kind of a rarity for me, as I don't normally pick up the nice, big, hardcover books, and...although I am probably a bit of a jerk for not patronizing my FLGS (which I haven't even had a chance to visit in my new home, FWIW)...I am REALLY enjoying reading over this.  Ravnica is probably one of my favorite fantasy settings in general and is almost certainly my favorite plane for Magic: The Gathering.  I really love how one of the most crucial aspects of the card game's identity--the five colors of mana--are an integral part of the setting, as the colors pair up to form 10 guilds that vie for control of the plane-spanning city of Ravnica.  No matter what game system a Ravnica campaign is run in, it's still going to have at least a little bit of the feel of MTG the card game (especially if there are any planeswalkers involved).

So, I'm really looking at starting up an online game set in Ravnica, but I'm not sure I want to run Fifth Edition.  I'm just not as familiar with it as I am some other systems, and if I'm already adding on the "frills" that come from gaming online, I might as well make sure the system I use is as no-frills as possible while still hitting the points I'm looking for.  Honestly, Swords & Wizardry White Box/Light/Continual Light seem just fine for such a game, and it can double up by keeping me in a Light City state of mind.

Classes seem like they'll be easy enough to handle.  Races, though...that's a different story.  Ravnica probably needs to include Loxodon (elephantfolk), Centaurs, Goblins, Merfolk, Viashino (draconic lizard-type-folk), and maybe hybrid beings from the biomantic Simic guild.  (EDIT: Oh yeah, and Vedalken!)  I'm not against creating them on my own, especially since some of that could just be reskinning stuff that's already out there.  But...and maybe I'm weird in feeling this way...there's something about reskinning races that just FEELS wrong, like it's breaking through the shared imagination of the game in a way that can't be ignored.  It's cool to say, "This is what a Ravnican goblin is like."  It seems relatively lame to just say, "Eh, play a halfling and we'll call you a goblin."  That's just...I dunno, less fantastic and more gamey.

But then I realized...why can't I just tack on 5e races to the classes of just about any OSR game and use them pretty much as-is?  I'll have to buy into some 5e-isms like Advantage/Disadvantage (which it seems gamers have accepted quite well as a mechanic fit for broad use), and I'll need an established way to resolve skills so that any skill-related benefits will have meaning...but those are minor concerns.

Movement rates should convert very simply.  Proficiencies?  If it's a weapon, that means you get to add your attack bonus when you use it.  For other stuff, it means you get to add your level to rolls.  Alignment?  There doesn't seem to be any harm in just ignoring the 5e recommendations, or in simply adopting the nine-alignment system for the game.

As examples, I think a "basic" Human build would just gain +1 to all stats and get to learn an extra language.  Or we can look at...say, the Kor from Plane Shift: Zendikar, the first of Wizards of the Coast's free PDFs bringing 5e rules to MTG:

There doesn't seem to be anything game-breaking there, and it could be fun to actually play the "official" takes on MTG's races.

Have any of you tried something like this?  Other than the "danger" of having starting characters a little more powerful than they would be otherwise, are there any big pitfalls I'm missing here?

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Geeky SKAturday: The Aquabats

I've mentioned the Aquabats at least once previously on this blog when I posted one of their cartoons (which I see is now no longer available on YouTube...).  This band is really the primary thing I had in mind when I thought about doing a "Geeky SKAturday" series.  They're a team of heroes from the island nation of Aquabania.  After an attack by the evil Space Monster M, Professor Monty Corndog uses Science to give them powers that will help them defeat their archnemesis.  They also happen to be a band!  They're a pretty perfect convergence of catchy ska tunes, superheroics, and...well, pretty much everything that's fun about being a geek.  Here's one of their older tunes...

You can find episodes of their award-winning, tokusatsu-inspired TV show at the series site HERE and learn more about their story at their wiki over HERE.

And now...let's look at an Aquabat in Light City!

The MC Bat Commander

Pic from The MCBC's wiki entry...

Normal Human  (when asked what power he got from The Professor, he told the kids to "mind their own business")
STR 10    DEX 10    CON 11    INT 13    WIS 10    CHA 10  (I just rolled these...)

1 HD (2 HP)    Saving Throw 17
AC 8[11] (Aquabats rashguard)
Attack:  by weapon

Possesses an Anti-Negativity Helmet to protect vs. negativity, bad vibes, and "playa hataz."