Monday, April 12, 2021

Glaciers & Glyptodons

 One of the very first things I blogged about (more than five years ago...geez...) finally got its shot on the videoconferenced tabletop last night.  The awesome online gaming group I've fallen in with took on the setting I've wanted to try for quite a while now...fantasy reskinned and shifted around a little to resemble our own prehistoric world...

I've had a blast putting this together and hope the crew are truly enjoying it, as well.  They SEEM to be, but they're all really kind people who would probably never let on if they hated it. ;)

At the very least, the group really seemed to embrace the mashup of classic fantasy tropes and prehistoric humanity.  When the Neanderthals in the party (called Sturdy Ones in the game) are named Smashpunch and Blork! (with exclamation point), I figure the Orc-ness is coming across decently.  (Of course, they really are just reskinned Orcs...)

If you think you'd enjoy seeing what I provided to the group for character creation and the tiniest core of the setting, you can check out the doc HERE.  It's pretty basic and could use a lot of editing, adding, and testing, but I'm glad to have something to work from.

It also makes use of the 5E race + Old School class approach that I mused about HERE...and it actually worked pretty well so far.  I'll have more on that at some point soon.  Well...hopefully...

Sunday, February 28, 2021

My favorite comic book scientists

 It's becoming clear to me that my posting here will slow a bit now that I've finally started a new job here in Jersey.  But first, to celebrate the fact that I'm back in a lab doing SCIENCE! again, I was thinking of statting out Reed Richards for Light City, to fill out the FF a little more and focus on a pillar of comic book scientific grandeur.

And that got me thinking...is Mr. Fantastic actually my favorite comic book scientist?  Hmm...he actually might be...!  Obviously, comics are filled with folks who do literally fantastic things with their hypotheses and experiments.  I've almost always been more of a DC guy in general, but I realized that if I start to list out my favorite four color science nerds in my head, the DC reps, while probably outnumbering those from elsewhere, fit into some specific niches.  Reed, though...well, I'm not sure I can think of another character who has the ability to carry the weight of ridiculous comic book superscience quite like him.  I guess Ray Palmer would probably come the closest...

For the record...kind of off the top of my head and in no particular order...I'd list my top 10 comic book scientists something like...

1.  Reed Richards
2.  Ray Palmer
3.  Kirk Langstrom
4.  Bruce Banner
5.  Barry Allen
6.  Tina McGee
7.  Hank McCoy
8.  Leo Quintum
9.  Lex Luthor
10.  Jon Osterman

If TV universes held the most weight, I'd put Cisco Ramon in there somewhere.  I guess it's a decent list overall, although the publishers and I should both probably look into expanding representation in the character type a bit.  Lots of nerdy white guys there.  Of course, I'm a nerdy white guy myself, so that aspect of the character type's common form really hasn't been so obvious to me until right now.

Also...I know, I know...Bruce Wayne should probably be there.  He's just also too much of everything else to fit the bill for some reason...

Oh yeah!  And here's Reed for Light City:


Huh.  Okay, here's Reed for Light City using a class that hasn't been built yet, but which will maybe support a Mr. Fantastic that looks something like this...

Mr. Fantastic
Real name:  Reed Richards
Level 4 Rubber Band

AC 6[13]    HD 3d6 (10 HP)
Saving throw: 13, +2 to rolls to dodge objects
Move 12 ft.

STR 12    DEX 19(+1)   CON 12    INT 20(+2)    WIS 14    CHA 12

Attack:  Punch with a bigass fist (1d6 damage, reach 96 ft.)
Flexi-powers:  Gliding, Absorb Explosion (2d6 damage)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

"I'm here live...I'm not a cat." Okay, yeah, this is funny...

 If you've been on the internet in the past day, you probably haven't been able to avoid seeing this video.  But really...why would you want to avoid it?

It could be an innocent mistake from a Texas attorney.  Or it COULD be an early sign of the cats' upcoming cultural infiltration.  I'll see if my contacts know anything.

If it is a feline Secret Invasion, I'll bet this cat is something like this...

Whiskers, Attorney Undercover

Level 3 Super-Pet

STR 4     DEX 16 (+1)    CON 8     INT 12     WIS 10     CHA 15(+1)

2+1 HD (8 HP)     Saving Throw 12    Move 12 ft. (climb 12 ft.)

AC 8[11]

Attack:  Bite or Claws, +2 to hit, 1d6 damage

Super-Pet Tricks:
Speech (obv)
Too Cute (Charm 1x/day)
Climb
Tool Use (+2 to saving throws to use human technology)

(I used Justin Isaac's Super-Pet class once again for Whiskers...)

Friday, February 5, 2021

This is Tulip

Tulip came from a hoarding situation in which around 80 dogs were living together trapped in a barn.  Laura and I worked with a number of these kids in a program to rehabilitate highly fearful dogs, and they are some of the most amazing beings you could ever hope to meet.

We adopted Tulip in 2019.  For the last year and a half, she's been my unofficial emotional support animal.  She deserves everything good that comes to her in life.  She has unicorns on her collar and tag because she is our barnicorn.

Like her sister Celery, Tulip deserves to be made into an RPG character.  Here she is using Justin Isaac's awesome Super-Pet class for Light City.  (I'm not sure that I've noted it on the blog, but as I've looked back over this class, I've come to love it even more than when I first read it.  It's solid and modular, and the "Tricks" are such a nice approach!)

Level 5 Super-Pet
First appearance:  Tales From the Barn (limited series) #1
STR 8     DEX 11     CON 15(+1)     INT 8     WIS 6     CHA 14
4+4 HD (18 HP)     Saving Throw 10    Move 12 ft. (flight 24 ft.)
AC 9[10]

Attack:  Bite or Horn, +3 to hit, 1d6 damage

Super-Pet Tricks:
Speech (yeah, why not, we seem to assume that all of our pets have this...)
Those Eyes (Too Cute) (Charm 1x/day)
Hero Support x2 (Cure Wounds I 2x/day)
Flight (again...why not?  she's got the horn for it...)
Getting the Hang of This (Tool Use) (+2 to saving throws to use human technology)

With one magic canine word, Tulip is transformed into even more of a Wonder Dog.  She has a horn.

(A note:  I realize that playing up the "barn" thing with Tulip may seem like a weird celebration of something terrible in her past, but with all of the precious kids we worked with from her case, "barn dog" has practically become a synonym for an amazing dog for some of us.  It is almost a badge of perfection.)


So, why am I just rambling about Tulip?  Well, besides the fact that she absolutely deserves to be rambled about, she's especially on my mind these days because of this girl:


This is Helen.  Laura and I fostered her around the end of 2018.  She is from the same fearful dog program as Tulip, and is another survivor of a hoarding situation.

One thing that has become clear over our time connected to these exceptional pups is that when they are separated from their families, they often don't react like you might expect a typical "lost dog" to react.  The fear kicks into overdrive at times.  Heck, we saw it with Tulip during our move, when we walked her at a rest area.  The interstate traffic was in her head, and she tugged on her leash with a look in her eyes that made me worry that if she were to get free, she might run for a while before even taking stock of where her loved ones were.

We found out about two weeks ago that Helen went missing from her home due to an unfortunate but understandably human mistake on the part of her family.  After at least one initial sighting, things went quiet for over a week before she was finally spotted again, more than once, and hope picked up.  Then...right when a major breakthrough seemed almost inevitable...we got this insane winter storm, and the effort has become more difficult.

I'm not the sort that questions the seemingly absurd unfairness of reality, but for some reason, this just doesn't fit the way I need the world to work.

If you are the sort that goes in for any sort of thoughts, prayers, or positive vibes for others...or even if you're not, actually...I would ask that you keep Helen in mind.  I know that we live in a world that's filled with pain, cruelty, and injustice, and it might be offensive that I ignore so much of that but take the time to fret over a lost dog.  If you feel that's the case, I'm sorry.

I just think Helen deserves a happy ending to her story, and I wanted to share it.  Thank you for reading.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Geeky SKAturday: Poe Dameron's ska band

The Google news feed on my phone is largely crammed with inconsequential clickbait that the algorithm knows I'm just weak enough to fall for.  Sometimes, however, this clickbait is actually an intriguing convergence of my interests that - while still inconsequential - is cool enough that I'm glad I fell for it.

This was the case month or so ago when articles started to pop up about Star Wars' Oscar Isaac and his history in a ska band...

From mickeyblog.com

He's actually been in more than one, apparently, but the one that features most prominently in these stories is the Blinking Underdogs, shown here...


It's pretty catchy and fun stuff, and they seem like a talented crew, having shared stages with Green Day and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  It also isn't really surprising to see that Isaac is such a charismatic performer.  He seems like a bit of a ham.

I'm going to try giving a "proper" listen to whatever Blinking Underdogs stuff I can uncover now.


And of course...why not a character?

From Wookieepedia
Poe Dameron
Homeworld:  Yavin 4
Level 4 Pilot

AC 6[13]    HD 3d6+1 (12 HP)
Saving throw: 12
Move 12 ft.

STR 11    DEX 17(+1)    CON 13    INT 11    WIS 12    CHA 15(+1)

Attack:  Blaster +2 (1d6+2 damage)

+2 to Saving Throws vs. explosions and environmental hazards

Stick Jockey (+2 to initiative in starship combat); Space Ace (may add +1 to two of a starship's stats each round); Jury-Rig 1x/day, 4d6 temporary HP to a starship

(Used the Pilot class from White Star for this one.)

Friday, January 29, 2021

Stacking up Bricks: The Thing

Here's another straightforward Brick.  Really, he's just about the brickiest Brick of all, I guess...

The Thing
Real name:  Benjamin Grimm
Level 4 Brick

AC 6[13]    HD 5d6+10 (28 HP)
Saving throw: 13
Move 12 ft. (leap 12 ft.)

STR 30(+4)    DEX 12    CON 23(+2)    INT 10    WIS 8    CHA 11

Attacks:  Melee - Punch +2 (1d6+4 damage)

Brick bonus: Enhanced CON x1.

----------

And while I'm at it, here's a slightly toned down build of his good buddy Johnny...

The Human Torch
Real name:  Jonathan Storm
Level 4 Elemental

AC 6[13]    HD 3d6 (10 HP)
Saving throw: 12
Move 12 ft. (flight 24 ft.)

STR 14    DEX 15(+1)    CON 13    INT 11    WIS 8    CHA 16(+1)

Attack:  Fire Blast, +3 to hit, 1d6 fire damage, range 60 ft.
Elemental Powers (4x/day):  Flame Missile, Radial Blast (all medium-sized creatures and unattached objects within 30 feet are moved 1d6 feet away from Johnny)

A note:  For my table, I'm making the "Learning to fly" ability of The Elemental a little easier to satisfy going forward...probably a d6 roll under [level + DEX mod + 2] to successfully fly, so that it becomes second nature a bit sooner in the advancement of a character...

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Variant Class: The ______ Fighter + Billy Butcher for LightBox

 While posting Yoshimi, Robot Fighter (of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots fame) on Musical Monday, I was struck by how simple and flavorful a "Robot Fighter" class is.  Sure, you could make Yoshimi a Ranger with robots/constructs/machines as a favored enemy...but isn't it more fun to call her a Level 3 Robot Fighter?

Well...I think it is.  So here's a Fighter variant class for whatever systems you like tinkering with.  I'll probably use it for LightBox style games.

______ Fighter

Weapons/Armor/HD/Attack Bonus/Saves:  As a Fighter.  If using a single saving throw, go ahead and drop the Fighter's bonuses to specific saves and, if you feel like it, try to describe a bonus to saves related to the character's favored enemy.  I'm just coming up with awkward phrases when I try to do it.

I'm Your Worst Enemy:  The ______ Fighter gets +1 to attacks and damage vs. ______s at 1st level.  At each odd level, she gains an additional +1.

A Very Specific Cleaving Technique:  When a ______ Fighter drops a ______ with a melee attack, she may immediately make another melee attack this round.  (Replaces extra attacks vs. 1HD enemies, if applicable.)


Seems simple enough.

Here's Billy Butcher:

From Screen Rant

William Butcher

Level 5 Supe Fighter

AC 8[11]    HD 5d6 (19 HP)
Saving throw: 12
Move 12 ft.

STR 11    DEX 12    CON 13    INT 14    WIS 15(+1)    CHA 16(+1)

Attacks:  By weapon (+4 attack bonus); additional +3 to hit and damage on all attacks vs. Supes

When Butcher drops some ****ing super **** with a melee attack, he attacks again.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Musical Monday: Superman's Best Songs (Part IV) + Yoshimi, Robot Fighter for LightBox gaming

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

The Flaming Lips did some interesting shows in Oklahoma this weekend...keeping their audiences safe by installing everyone in giant plastic bubbles...

From the BBC

The Flaming Lips are no strangers to taking their own approach to things.

One thing they do have in common with a lot of other artists, though...and relevant to this post and blog...is a song about Superman.  A pretty darn good one.


Sometimes I think you have to listen to the Flaming Lips for a song or two in order to calibrate your brain to singer Wayne Coyne's voice...it sometimes takes a few listens to realize how epic, fragile, and beautiful some of their works are.

As far as RPGs go...and that's what I'm looking for excuses to talk about, after all...there's clearly one Flaming Lips song that lends itself to game material perhaps better than any other...


Just classic.  Here's the heroine herself...


Yoshimi
Level 3 Robot Fighter

AC 8[11]    HD 3d6 (11 HP)
Saving throw: 14
Move 12 ft.

STR 17(+1, she's gotta be strong to fight them)    DEX 15(+1)    CON 12    INT 14    WIS 10    CHA 12

Attacks:  Melee - Unarmed attack +3 (1d3 damage; she's a black belt in karate) or by weapon, +3; Ranged - By weapon, +2; +2 to hit and damage on all attacks vs. robots

When Yoshimi knocks out a robot with a melee attack, she may immediately make another melee attack.

A Swords & Wizardry Light variant of the Fighter...

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Stacking up Bricks: Bane

Taking another tiny step in examining builds that I'd like to see possible with the Brick class for Light City...here's Bane...

My expertly rebased Bane mini in that classic supervillain pose, standing in a puddle of gray marshmallow goo.


Bane
Real name:  Unknown
Level 4 Brick

AC 4[15]    HD 5d6+10 (27 HP)
Saving throw: 13
Move 12 ft. (leap 12 ft.)

STR 26(+3)    DEX 21(+2)    CON 22(+2)    INT 18    WIS 12    CHA 8
(All stats under the influence of Venom.)

Attacks:  Melee - Punch +2 (1d6+3 damage)

Hindrance:  Addiction (Venom)

Brick bonuses: Enhanced DEX x1, Enhanced CON x1.

Monday, January 18, 2021

So, Sea Shanty TikTok is a thing

One of my most-viewed posts in the history of this blog came last year, when I decided to post about a catchy tune I kept hearing my wife come across on the bite-sized video social media app TikTok.  Not that this blog maintains much of a focus, but that post was fairly off-topic pretty much no matter what you might consider my core subject matter.  I guess the post did what I intended it to, though, as it immediately jumped up to top-viewed status, and I could see that search traffic was bringing in people who were looking for the story of the song just like I was.  It has dropped back down below a few other posts in the past few months...although I'm not convinced that some of my rambling that generates a lot of hits (by my standards) isn't actually just a bot magnet for one reason or another.

At any rate, something interesting has happened on TikTok lately.  You may have seen that sea shanties have become popular.  Singing, singing along, remixing...folks are loving #ShantyTok.  Honestly, if you pay attention to pop culture news, there's a good chance you're already aware of this trend.  And if you're not, just search sea shanty tiktok, and you'll see that just about every news service, reputable and otherwise, has had something to say about the craze.

Why am I posting about it?  Not sure...I guess I just think it's cool.  Here's a sampler:

And a background video:

Note #1:  It has been pointed out HERE and probably elsewhere that at least the most popular of the TikTok shanties, the whaling song "Soon May the Wellerman Come", isn't actually a proper sea shanty by a strict definition of the term.  So, any shanty purists out there, we hear you.

Note #2:  Yes, it's a whaling song.  I've seen no indication that anyone involved lately is actually pro-whaling, though.  Whaling is pretty effed up.  Just thought it should be noted.  (I'll also note that I don't discount the argument that the banning of ecologically sound whaling, if it is possible, may very well indicate a cultural double standard imposed by the West.)  I shall go no further down this line of thought.

Note #3:  There are some definite gaming bits to be found in this!  According to this encyclopedia entry, the shantyman, or leader of the work song, was very influential in the success of the crew:

"A good shantyman was worth four extra hands on the rope."

Seems like a great way to work a bard into a nautical/piratical campaign, doesn't it?

And because why not...here's one of literature's more famous whalers statted up for LightBox* gaming.  Call him...

Ishmael
Level 2 Sailor (check out David Baymiller's "OSR Pirate/Renaissance and Colonial Classes. Fighting Men" HERE!)

AC 9[10]    HD 2d6 (9 HP)
Saving throw: 15
Move 12 ft.

STR 11    DEX 12    CON 13    INT 12    WIS 15(+1)    CHA 10

Attacks:  By weapon (BHB +1, additional +1 melee or unarmed)

Sailing +1, Gambling +1, Swimming +2, Climb Walls 55%

Special:  Move silently and Backstab as level 2 Thief.


* As in conforming to the style of either Swords & Wizardry Light or White Box...I see little need to differentiate much more on the blog here...

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Geeky SKAturday: More love for Pokémon, with upbeats

Today's intersection of ska and geekdom comes courtesy of Jeremy at Skatune Network...who has to be one of the most musically talented individuals I've ever paid attention to.  They've done some outstanding work on the channel, but this one is just top-notch.


And in me-related news, quite a while back I picked up a couple of miniature Pokemon figures that looked to be roughly in scale with the HeroClix I've been planning to rebase and play with for forever.  One is one of my all-time favorites, Electabuzz:


It's a little big...the average Electabuzz is 3'07" (1.1 m), so especially considering that Bats is a little on the tall side for the minis I'm collecting...anyway, I'm gonna go with it.

Way back when, I played around a bit on this blog with converting old school Pokemon cards to old school RPG monsters using a quick and dirty formula:

HD = Level/10 (round up)
HP = TCG HP/5
Attack bonus = HD + 2 - [attack cost in energy]
Attack damage becomes damage in d6 (divide by 30 and treat remainders as modifiers)
AC = 14 - Retreat Cost (related to DEX...?)
Resistance halves damage; weakness doubles it.
Specials will hopefully be obvious.

So, this card...

...becomes this monster:

Electabuzz
HD 4 (14 HP), AC 12
Attacks:  Thundershock +5 (d6-2, 3 in 6 chance of causing paralysis for one round), Thunderpunch +4 (d6, 3 in 6 chance of +1 damage, otherwise deals 1 damage to itself)
Weakness:  Fighting

Electabuzz and Batman will hopefully meet on the field of battle before long.  I should probably put Buzz on a washer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Stacking up Bricks: The Hulk

Continuing my experimentation with the Brick class for Light City...here's another important one to take into consideration that also matches one of my haphazardly rebased HeroClix that will (hopefully) soon find a place on my tabletop.


The Hulk is really one of the most classic of all superheroic Bricks, I think.  He's also fairly straightforward as far as Bricks go; he's big, strong, and tough.  I'm thinking his accelerated healing should maybe be taken into account.  He can also jump really high and far, but that's covered at least slightly in the base Brick class.  And while I don't follow Hulk comics very closely, he's apparently immortal these days.  I won't worry about that one.

As for drawbacks?  I don't know that a transformation into superheroic form is a drawback in itself; I should probably do a little survey of other supers RPGs to see how that's treated in general.

The uncontrollable rage, though...that's probably a hindrance.  Let's see...

The Hulk
Real name:  Bruce Banner
Level 5 Brick

AC 6[13]    HD 6d6+12 (34 HP)
Saving throw: 12
Move 12 ft. (leap 12 ft.)

STR 36(+5)    DEX 12    CON 24(+2)    INT 10    WIS 4    CHA 10
(All stats in Hulk form.)

Attacks:  Melee - Punch +2 (1d6+5 damage)

Special:  Regeneration 1 (heal 1 at the beginning of each round); 5 in 6 chance for a Feat of Strength

Hindrance:  Rage 1 (Before taking an action, roll 1d6; on a roll of 1, the action is lost to blind rage.)

Brick bonuses: Enhanced STR x1, Enhanced CON x1, Regeneration 1.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Musical Monday: Superman's Best Songs (Part III) + Sunshine Superman for Light City

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

Well...I'm pretty sure I like it. It has a certain resonance with me.  I had a phase long ago in which I listened to a lot of popular music from the '60s, and this eventually became a familiar tune that had the added bonus of name-dropping not only Superman, but also Green Lantern...!

Whatever your take on it, I think it's hard to deny that this one sounds very Sixties...


Sunshine Superman is also the name of the Man of Steel hailing from Earth 47 (or, in his earliest appearance, Dreamworld), the psychedelic superhero universe that can owe its groovy existence to Grant Morrison and Chaz Truog.


He's in a pretty happenin' version of the Justice League, too...


Without any evidence to the contrary, I'm going to assume Sunshine Superman has access to all of the standard Supes powers...and I'll take this opportunity to stat him up for Light City in such a way that I can use the basics for any old Superman in a tabletop superhero skirmish.  Maybe I can even figure out a way to reconcile these numbers and abilities with a rational way of having the Brick class play out over several levels...


Sunshine Superman
Level 5 Brick

AC 6[13]    HD 6d6+6 (28 HP)
Saving throw: 12
Move 24 ft. (flight 24 ft.)

STR 30(+4)    DEX 12    CON 18(+1)    INT 14    WIS 12    CHA 14

Attacks:  Melee - Punch +2 (1d6+4 damage); Ranged - Heat Vision +2 (1d6 damage), medium range

Vulnerability:  Kryptonite

Brick bonuses: Super Speed x1, Flight, Energy Blast.  Thanks to Justin Isaac and his Super-Pet class for helping me visualize this method of building a hero in a Light City context, and to soner du for confirmation that "exaltations" to build a hero isn't a terrible idea...

Friday, January 8, 2021

Because it just seems like a good week to think about Captain America

So much division.  At least we have this guy that I think most of us can get behind in one way or another.


Captain America
Real name:  Steve Rogers
Level 5 Supersoldier

AC 3[16] (light body armor, shield)    HD 5d6+10 (28 HP)
Saving throw: 11

STR 20(+2)    DEX 20(+2)    CON 20(+2)    INT 12    WIS 15(+1)    CHA 16(+1)

Attacks:  Melee - Shield +6 (1d6+2 damage); Ranged - Shield +6 (1d6+2 damage), medium range

(A few notes:  1. The Supersoldier class is found in The Assembly and expanded upon in L'Assemblee2. Justin previously posted Sam Wilson as Captain America for Light City over at the Halls of the Nephilim...I definitely used that to cheat and check my work over here. And, who doesn't love Falcon?  3. There's a big argument to be made that Steve Rogers should make it past level 5 pretty early in his avenging career, but I'm scaling back some of these Light/White Box characters in order to stat them out for a miniatures skirmish, where I want to keep their numbers a little more under control.  4. Be kind to each other out there, please.)

Monday, January 4, 2021

Happy New Year! + Joey Ramone for White Box

And now, I finally get around to wishing a happy and healthy new year to all of the good people who stop by this blog!  (I actually wish it for everyone else, too, but I'll need some help passing the message on to them.) 

To celebrate, here's something I never really get tired of...the Ramones' New Year's Eve 1977 show in London, which was later released as the live album It's Alive.


Johnny would later say:  “I think our peak, our greatest moment, is that New Year’s Eve show of 1977 into 1978. I think that’s our greatest moment as a band.”  Strong words!

And here's Joey for White Box/Light/Continual Light gaming.  Man, I really need to find a miniature of him.

This pic is actually released under a CC-BY-SA license...

Joey Ramone
Level 3 Bard

AC 8[11] (Leather Jacket)    HD 2d6+1 (8 HP)

STR 11    DEX 10    CON 14    INT 14    WIS 14    CHA 16

Attack bonus +1, damage by weapon
Charm Person 1x/day, Detect Magic 1x/day
Inspiring song:  Once per combat, may give all allies +1 to attack rolls for five rounds

(I went to Swords & Wizardry Continual Light for this one and basically just replaced the Thief's attributes with those of the Bard, rather than adding them on and extending advancement...)