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