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...
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.
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...
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.
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.)
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...
Level 3 Robot Fighter
AC 8HD 3d6 (11 HP)
Saving throw: 14
Move 12 ft.
STR 17(+1, she's gotta be strong to fight them) DEX 15(+1)CON 12INT 14WIS 10CHA 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...
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...
Level 2 Sailor (check out David Baymiller's "OSR Pirate/Renaissance and Colonial Classes. Fighting Men" HERE!)
AC 9HD 2d6 (9 HP)
Saving throw: 15
Move 12 ft.
STR 11 DEX 12CON 13INT 12WIS 15(+1)CHA 10
Attacks: By weapon (BHB +1, additional +1 melee or unarmed)
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.
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...
Real name: Bruce Banner
Level 5 Brick
AC 6HD 6d6+12 (34 HP)
Saving throw: 12
Move 12 ft. (leap 12 ft.)
STR 36(+5) DEX 12CON 24(+2)INT 10WIS 4CHA 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.
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...
Level 5 Brick
AC 6HD 6d6+6 (28 HP)
Saving throw: 12
Move 24 ft. (flight 24 ft.)
STR 30(+4) DEX 12CON 18(+1)INT 14WIS 12CHA 14
Attacks: Melee - Punch +2 (1d6+4 damage); Ranged - Heat Vision +2 (1d6 damage), medium range
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...
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 (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 Assemblyand expanded upon in L'Assemblee. 2. 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.)
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 (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...)