Wednesday, December 28, 2022

So this Dungeon23 thing is really taking off, eh?

Seems like I can't go five minutes on the nerdweb without seeing another reference to the yearlong megadungeon effort widely known as Dungeon23.  Which is awesome!  In case you haven't seen it, it appears to have been launched by a tweet from Sean McCoy of Mothership fame, who started a movement with these words:

Megadungeon for 2023. 12 levels. 365 rooms. One room a day. Keep it all in a journal.

There's a whole post about it over on his Substack site.  (Is that just called a Substack?)  And people are freaking out about it.  In a good way.  There's a subreddit and a ton of mentions on Twitter and a lot of people happy about being creative and helping each other be creative.  I mean, when I see an RPG project get mentioned on Gizmodo, Grognardia, and The Other Side, I should probably pay attention, right?

My initial thought was something along the lines of, "well, there's another longterm hobby goal for me to slack on...I should probably steer clear."  But now that I'm seeing so many folks getting excited about prepping for it...might just be FOMO, but I'm kind of thinking I should give it a shot...!

Maybe I actually craft a "traditional" megadungeon to get the archetypal experience?

Maybe I use 5E rules and try to pare them down to my own take on OSR-inspired modern D&D?

Maybe I put together a neighborhood for Ravnica?

Maybe I stretch the megadungeon idea a little further and instead make that a neighborhood for Light City or Dogwood City?

Maybe the megadungeon is actually a human body, and I finally follow through on gaming in micro?

Or, maybe I just dream big for a little while and ultimately realize that it's time better spent on a project that I'm feeling a little, at the moment, rules for playing with some of my action figures.

I never finish those either, though.

So, those who stumble through my little corner of the blogosphere...anyone thinking about taking this on?

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Christmas party on my desk at work

A bunch of folks at work put some real effort into their cubicle Christmas decorations this year.  I think I held my own (with coworkers helping on a couple of festive touches), BUT if you ask me, the real party at my desk was in on in the corner.  I documented it over the course of the season...


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Terry Hall, 1959-2022

News broke yesterday of the death of Terry Hall, singer for one of my favorite bands, 2 tone legends the Specials.  This is truly a loss, and at only 63, clearly much too early.  I like this sentence posted on the band's Facebook page: "His music and his performances encapsulated the very essence of life... the joy, the pain, the humour, the fight for justice, but mostly the love."  If folks can say something that's anywhere close to that when I leave this world, it will probably have been a life pretty well spent.

From his Facebook page...

I've been listening to some of his work today and wanted to share a few songs here.  While much of the greatness of this first one is defined by its group vocals, I have to post the most iconic version of one of the most iconic ska or rocksteady songs of all time, the Specials' take on "A Message to You Rudy":

The Rude Boy archetype and the "character" of Rudy are a topic I've long thought I should write about in a Geeky SKAturday, and this tune probably leads the way in representing Rudy's image in a lot of people's minds.

There are a couple of songs, though, that I think exemplify Hall's strengths as a vocalist and will be forever imprinted on the musical portion of my mind.  "Dawning of a New Era" might have been the first Specials song I ever heard, and I really never get tired of it...

And then Hall's performance in the grand alloy that is the Specials' epic "Ghost Town" is absolutely timeless:

Of course, Hall had projects other than the Specials, with Fun Boy Three being perhaps the most well known.  Even many who have never paid much attention to his musical performances would probably recognize this pop gem that he co-wrote with Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go's:

Finally, I know I'm not the only one recognizing today how poignant Hall's performance in this classic cover is...especially considering the young age at which the world lost him...

I definitely hold some regret that I never seized an opportunity to see Hall perform live.  And I would love to honor him in a very Monstrous Matters way, by statting him up for a game, but I'm not sure I have the tools and chops (yet?) to do that well.  If I were to go the 5E route, I think I'd put him close to the max (if not THE max) level used in the campaign world at hand.  Of course, he'd be a Bard.  And he'd be the first one I construct that belongs to the College of Ska.  But I haven't put all that together yet.  One day, maybe, and hopefully soon, and until then, I'll enjoy the incredible art he left for us.

Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Looking at 5E for quick pickup games...

A while back, in the midst of remembering Ivan Reitman, I wrote a little about rule conversion that hinted at the possibility of using 5E D&D as the base for a game intended to be about as streamlined as the old Ghostbusters RPG.  You could create a character pretty much the same way in either system just by determining attributes/traits and adding on some proficiencies/talents.  If it works for a pickup game of Ghostbusters, it should work for a pickup game using 5E rules, eh?

During this year's run of holiday gaming, I ran a Lovecraftian horror one-shot for Halloween and wanted to try out this streamlined approach to 5E as a universal system.  So, I just took 5E, added in a couple of modern skills and tools that might be important, and asked everyone to make a character using a Background only (or an equivalent set of proficiencies plus an extra roleplaying-based characteristic).  Sanity was tracked like hit points, and everyone rolled both that and HP (instead of maxing out at "1st level") to keep things tense(?).  I had come across at least one example on the net where someone discussed setting up a 5E funnel with background-only characters, and this seemed like it should work just as well.

For the adventure, I modified and quickly converted the Call of Cthulhu convention module Dead Boarder to take place at Miskatonic Community College on Halloween 1985.  (Note: I definitely recommend this scenario, as it's a pretty cool and easily adaptable Lovecraftian romp, and its convention-game focus helped us keep a one-shot as an actual one-shot, which we sometimes have trouble with...!)  And honestly, I think it went pretty darn well.  Background-only 5E gaming may just become a go-to for themed one-shots I want to try out.

I mean, when players come to the game with characters like the one below, how can things go wrong?  Quick creation...just enough substance to care about the character through a single session...defaulting to 5E rules that we all know reasonably well...I realize there's nothing groundbreaking to this approach, but I was really pleased with the outcome.  Here's Rachel's character, sharing without her knowledge or permission or anything like that but I really don't think she'll have an issue with it...

Milton Casey

40s or 50s, tall and slight but with ropey muscles, thinning brown hair and clean shaven. Wearing classic olive-beige jumpsuit of a custodial worker.

Str 10, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 9, Cha 14

Skill proficiencies: Repair, Perception

Tool proficiency: Cleaning equipment (floor buffer, wet vac, etc.)

Languages: English, Spanish

Background Feature: Knows Where the Bodies are Buried - For the campus where Milt works, he knows where every employee (staff and faculty) keeps their files and important papers and can access them at any time (licitly or otherwise).

Thursday, December 1, 2022

On gaming for the holidays

I have been very lucky to fall in with a gaming group that appreciates a good holiday adventure.  In 2021, we fit in sessions specific to the three big ones that close out the year here in the States, and we've already covered Halloween and reeling-from-the-weight-of-its-own-history Thanksgiving so far this year.  At least one Christmas adventure is on the schedule (a trip to Bedford Falls with Josh, using Eldritch Hack), and who knows...I've been wanting to run a session based on protecting some magi outsiders who are investigating the fulfillment of a prophecy over near Jerusalem a couple thousand years ago.

For some reason, I'm especially happy that we found the time for sessions specific to that big November harvest festival that just happened in the US, as it's easily forgotten in gaming during the busy fall and winter seasons.  Last year, Wil ran a really cool implementation of the storygame Dialect, in which we all played hyperintelligent turkeys looking to escape the farm.  For 2022, Rachel ran us through a version of the one-shot The Turkey Snatcher, which was tons of fun. 

I am right in saying that of those three holidays, Thanksgiving gets the least love when it comes to gaming, eh?  Is it possible that I only think it "deserves" a session because it happens to fall between The Scary One™ and The Big One™, which are bound to get a nod at the gaming table?

I've long thought that Lamentations of the Flame Princess (and its early modern sensibilities) would make for a nice Weird Thanksgiving tale. These days, if I put something together, I'd probably go with 5E but draw on the LotFP feel as much as possible.

Well, more drivel on holiday gaming coming soon...until then, let's honor the brief life of Rofl, my wood elf sorcerer who fell at the feathers of some Turkey Golems this year...

AI made this.

Wood Elf Sorcerer 5 (Proficiency Bonus +3)

AC 15 (Draconic Resilience)    HD 5d6+10 (37 HP)
Move 35, Initiative +2

STR 8(-1)    DEX 15(+2)    CON 14(+2)    INT 12(+1)    WIS 11(--)    CHA 17(+3)

Features:  Dragon Ancestor - Bronze Dragon, Fey Ancestry, Trance, Elf Weapon Training, Mask of the Wild

Skill proficiencies:  Arcana, Deception, History, Intimidation, Perception

Tool proficiencies:  None

Languages:  Common, Draconic, Elvish, Riedran

Attacks:  Fire Bolt +6, range 120, 2d10 fire; light crossbow +5, range 80/320, 1d8+2 piercing; dagger +5, range 20, 1d4+2 piercing

Spells Known:
0:  Control Flames, Fire Bolt, Gust, Mending, Prestidigitation
1:  Charm Person, Magic Missile
2:  Knock, Levitate
3:  Fireball, Lightning Bolt

Friday, November 25, 2022

Football in 5E?

As my interest in 5E has grown, I've been really jonesin' to start posting to this blog regularly for the first time in...well, kind of ever, I guess.  I'm trying to avoid that voice I often hear in my head, that returning to the blog requires some important reason to put my voice out into the aether again, and that I'd better have something good to write if I'm not going to just look like an idiot making a play for relevance in a very tiny and specific corner of the internet.


I mean, I honestly think all three of you who still read my posts have realized at this point that my prose ain't exactly poetry, and you're mostly on this blog out of some combination of time to kill + occasionally shared interests (a combination with varying percentages depending on the day).  In other words, I don't think I'll scare anyone off when I don't deliver Shakespeare, so here's where we're going today...

Watching the World Cup today (I know...FIFA, Qatar, etc....I still can't bring myself to just not watch...go USMNT!), I had to wonder about soccer/football and D&D rules.  Surely this would be something that's been thought about many times over.  To what extent has it ever been pulled off?  And if it was played, was it actually fun?

A quick "d&d soccer rules" search turns up some interesting Reddit discussions , and I learned from one of them that the Dungeons & Daddies podcast must have had a couple of episodes where the characters played soccer, and oh my am I going to have to invest time into learning the answer to this?  Why can't I just see a summary of what's been done now, in 2022, when all the knowledge of the world should be at my fingertips?, anyone have any suggestions on where to look for this sort of thing?

RETURN TO BLOGGING BONUS:  Here's the first image that came up when I asked the Dream art generator to give me "Dungeons & Dragons soccer"...

Sunday, August 7, 2022

5e alien race: Those who hail from the Planet of the Mimes

 To follow up on my last post, I thought it'd be fun to make a bit of 5e content with a SilverHawks focus.  The obvious choice, in my mind, would be to figure something out about this guy's species:

Pic from the Thundercats Wiki

That, of course, is Copper Kidd, the sole nonhuman among the SilverHawks.  (Well, the main ones, anyway...certainly seems that Hotwing may also be nonhuman...?)

Copper Kidd is from the world known as the Planet of the Mimes.  Straightaway, I have to wonder if those who are actually from the planet want to call it that.  I can't say it's an insult...I mean, nothing wrong with being associated with mimes.  I guess.  But there's something about it that feels like...I dunno, referring to someone of Native American ancestry as an Indian.  It's a broad stroke of incorrectness that just has to venture into offensiveness.

So I'll just give them another name.  Using the random alien species name generator HERE, Copper Kidd shall be known as a...Bril.  Those who hail from the Planet of the Mimes are called Bril.  The Planet of the Mimes is actually known as Brili.  Sounds good.

While I'm basing this all solely on what I remember from watching SilverHawks as a kid, from the modest amount that I've watched the show as an adult, and from the little I'm able to find through quick google I may be missing some details, in other words...there doesn't seem to be a whole lot that's known about the Bril.  Here's one possible approach (using this nice custom race guide from Skullsplitter Dice as a guide):


Pic from the other ThunderCats Wiki

Ability score adjustments: +2 to INT and DEX

Size: Medium; Base speed: 35 ft.

Alien Larynx: Bril have unique speech capabilities. They are unable to speak the common language of the Limbo Galaxy without electronic enhancement, and most inhabitants of the galaxy are unfamiliar with the Bril language. However, Bril are skilled at pantomime (hence their controversial nickname). A Bril can communicate most simple ideas to others without sharing a language. More complicated ideas can be communicated with a successful INT check by both the Bril and the receiving character, with DC determined by the complexity of the message.

Enhanced Senses: Darkvision (60 ft.); Advantage on Perception rolls

Born to Move: Proficient in Acrobatics

Rational Mind: Advantage on saving throws against being charmed

EDIT:  My immediate reaction upon looking at this might be overpowered.  I'm so bad at figuring that out sometimes.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The State of the World

 For all of you who look at the world around us, and then at your favorite works of dystopian fiction, and think, "Wow, that's where we're headed..."

May I remind you that one specific fictional future has not yet been ruled out...?

And that would be pretty effing cool.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Ivan Reitman, 1946-2022

I didn't want too much more time to pass before posting something here in tribute to filmmaker Ivan Reitman, who the world lost unexpectedly on Saturday, 2/12, at just 75. At the time I learned of his passing, I had recently responded to Tim's review of Ghostbusters: Afterlife over at HeroPress, and I had been pondering a second "2021 in review" post on Ghostbusters...on seeing the latest movie, playing the game, and being influenced by both.

I certainly don't want to take anything away from the other wonderful work he did during his career (and it's been very interesting to see which films have gotten the nod alongside Ghostbusters in blurbs and headlines of his passing), but from the perspective of this fortysomething geek, his role in that franchise towers above everything else.  He truly played an indelible role in my life.

What's there to do in tribute?  I dunno.  I guess I'll just do what I often do on here, write out a little game content.  I've been thinking lately about how similar 5e proficiency is to the Talents of the Ghostbusters RPG, so maybe if I write about that a bit, it'll encourage someone, sometime, to spend some time playing in the world Mr. Reitman helped bring to life.

Anyway, here's how quickly I think you can make reasonable characters for a quick 5e-based Ghostbusters game.  Looking at Egon's card from the old West End Games boxed set, and figuring 3 HD is probably a reasonable "level"...

(And also a toast to Harold Ramis, who passed before the inception of this blog...)

Egon Spengler, Ph.D.

Goal: Soulless Science

HD 3d8 (14 HP)

Proficiency Bonus: +2

STR 10(-)  DEX 10(-)  CON 10(-)  INT 20(+5)  WIS 10(-)  CHA 10(-)

Proficiencies: Physics (+7), Climb (+2), Disguise (+2), Stock Market (+2)

Attack: Unarmed Strike (+2, 1 bludgeoning damage) OR by weapon

Sunday, January 30, 2022

2021 in Review: Pokémon GO

I'm not sure why consistent blogging is such a difficult thing for me to do.  I's probably the same reason that consistent anything is difficult for my ADD-inclined mind to keep up with, seeing as how I jump all over the place with my interests on a day-to-day (and sometimes minute-to-minute) basis.  Blogging does seem like it's a great fit for a brain like that, since I can literally write about whatever the hell I want on here and figure that someone with a similar interest may eventually come upon it.

For whatever reason, though, it doesn't quite work that way, and so I once again find myself a few weeks into a new year with a renewed interest in keeping up with this blog, but without the confidence that I'm actually gonna see it through.  While I'm here, though, maybe I can at least talk about some of the biggest deals in gaming, for me, over the course of last year...

First of all, in 2021, I finally dove into Pokémon GO.  It was late in the year, so I guess I was about...oh, 5.5 years later than the rest of the world in discovering how much fun this game is.  I did sign on a few years back and catch a few monsters, but my phone, data plan, and coverage in the rural area I lived in meant it didn't really catch my attention.

Of course, I've made no secret of my love for Pokémon, and so upon downloading the app to my new phone, here in crowded New Jersey...well, dang this is a good game.  There are just so many options to it...whatever your specific interest in Pokémon, you can probably channel it in Pokémon GO.  I'll admit that I enjoy the battling...y'know, the most ethically problematic aspect of the Pokémon franchise...but my biggest goal right now is simply filling out my Kanto Pokédex (especially evolving that Jigglypuff I've been holding onto since 2018).  Other than that, it's the augmented reality aspect of the game that might be the most intriguing.  Pokémon Snap is probably the coolest Pokémon title of them all, and the chance to take that photographic angle into the real world is pretty fun.

For example, here's my Houndour named Zuko, fitting in perfectly with the dogs of the Linneman household:

Here's Matty, my Alolan Ninetales, out enjoying the New Jersey winter with Celery and Tulip (and Laura and me):

I work with a bunch of scientists, and one of them told me that picture is the nerdiest thing she's ever seen.  I take that as quite a compliment.

Speaking of work and nerdy pictures...uh-oh, is that a Flareon getting near the flammables cabinet...??

Of course, you might just have your pics bombed by other monsters, as this Smeargle did:

...or this Squirtle:

Ah, buddy Zuko.  He snagged his 50th Houndour candy earlier this week, so while he looks like this for now...

...he will be evolving into a Houndoom soon.  My buddy won't be a puppy much longer.

How about some gaming content?

I actually think that the setup of Pokémon GO fits perfectly with the theme of Underground Elemental Beastfighting that I've mentioned before on this blog.  Our world...with a hidden layer where people take these magical creatures captive and force them into battle...still seems like it's worth exploring on the tabletop.

Way back when, I had a little system for turning old Pokémon TCG cards into OSR monsters.  I think I'll continue that, although I'm in more of a multiple polyhedral mood now, and I'll make an adjustment or two since I'm looking at more recent cards that have been subject to the card game's power creep (and since some things just require ad hoc translation rules...).  Here are the latest editions of Houndour and Houndoom (I think):

1 HD (6 HP), AC 13
Attacks:  Bite +3 (1d4 damage)
Training: Single Strike
Weakness: Grass

3 HD (13 HP), AC 12
Attacks:  Darkness Fang +4 (1d10 damage)
Training: Single Strike
Weakness: Grass
Single Strike Roar: At the beginning of each combat round, you may choose one of your monsters with Single Strike training.  That monster takes 2 damage and gets +1 to all attacks for the rest of this combat.