Saturday, December 30, 2023

Geeky SKAturday: Sell Out (Reel Big Fish)'s the first new sound to be invoked by a character of the Rudie class!

This one comes courtesy of Reel Big Fish.  I think RBF has a bit of a "love 'em or hate 'em" reputation among ska fans due to their pop-punk approach and general jokey nature, neither of which sit well with some ska purists out there.

On the other hand, they're catchy as hell and a lot of fun.  To some listeners, they are probably THE ska band.  And then to some listeners, they're hated because they are THE stereotype of late-90s ska punk.

I like 'em.  A lot.  And while I've become a bigger fan of ska that's more traditional than their poppy riffs, RBF's album Turn the Radio Off was definitely part of my gateway into the genre as a whole, so I like having this one to kick off this feature.

Okay, enough talk...

Image from HERE
Sell Out
1st-level Sound

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Duration: 1 hour

You attempt to make a single decision that is being considered by a creature you can see within range.  The creature must be capable of reasoning and having a belief that it is the correct decision (even if it's outlandish).  The creature makes a single Wisdom saving throw.  If it fails, it will make the decision you choose and believe that it is the correct decision for the duration of the sound.  When the sound's effect ends, the creature will be able to reason normally regarding the topic.

At Higher Levels: When you invoke this sound using a sound slot of 2nd level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 1st.  The creatures must be within 30 feet of each other when you target them.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas!! (To Cobra too!)

Merry Christmas, all!!

I was going to have a post today about this vintage Santa toy/decoration from my childhood, and how I discovered a world of similar products when I tried to track one of them down.

However...after seeing this fantastic brick-animated G.I. Joe short on Reddit ("Operation Christmas Wish") by user SPNKLR, I knew I should just share it instead.  Enjoy, and have a great holiday!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Geeky SKAturday: The Rudie class for OGL gaming

The Specials from Michael Ochs Archive, stolen from The Guardian

Okay, how to explain the "why" of this one...?

Around 25 years ago, I was obsessed with ska and dreamed about (1) playing in a ska band, and (2) creating a ska zine, as there were some that I absolutely loved at the time (Ska-tastrophe, anyone?).  I did the first but never the second.  I did think about it a lot, though...what my angle could be to stand out...maybe a specific sub-subgenre to focus on or - inspired by seeing the punkrock/golf magazine Schwing! - maybe tackling ska plus some other topic of interest in the same zine. forward 20+ years.  Zines are on my radar again, but this time for RPGs rather than music.  At a show one night, I'm struck by how fun it my create a zine that combines ska and RPGs.  I enjoyed thinking about the possibility of filling out a world to game in with the characters, ideas, and conflicts found in many of the songs I like.  I mean, for a lot of us, I think at least a little part of ska's appeal is that it has narratives that accompany it, both within songs and in the more meta sense of the historical development of the genre.  It was easy for a geek like me to completely geek out on it (still is).  And once I started trying to dress the part, with a skinny black tie and some two-tone shoes...well, that isn't very far removed from cosplay, is it?

And this is as good a time as any to point out that where I'm going with all of this may be perceived as culturally tone deaf to some.  There's a lot of discussion to be had regarding the Jamaican musical diaspora and cultural appropriation.  When I dressed up as a "rude boy" in the sense of "one who loves ska," I was sort of cosplaying 70s British kids who were in turn cosplaying 60s Jamaican tough guys.  What do I know about growing up on the streets of Kingston?  (I'm a middle class American white guy, in case you don't know...)  At any rate...if someone wants to take up a dialogue regarding all of this, I'm certainly game!

The thing is...I do genuinely love this music, and this is a point upon which I'm willing to ignore some of my fears as an unashamed progressive in order to more fully take part in this thing that I love.

Okay, so...where was I?  Oh yes, a ska zine!  Well, there was no way I was going to end up following through on that in a meaningful way.  If you need proof of this, take a gander through my history on this blog and note all the projects I've begun with excitement only to abandon when the next "best idea ever" takes hold of me.  I don't regret them, as I love getting absorbed by ideas I enjoy.  But a lot of the time, I just don't get the results I start out hoping for.

However...I had started this little Geeky SKAturday "feature" (in that I posted it more than once) here at Monstrous Matters...and I could probably make something happen semi-regularly if it had a clear structure and goal.  And so, in 2024, I plan to make good on realizing my little ska/RPG crossover.  Most of it will probably just be posting songs I like and giving them a tenuous connection to game mechanics.  And it all starts here...with the Rudie character class.  (It's for the rules I'm formulating to be the "house system" here at MM...basically full - or very close to full - compatibility with the fifth edition of the world's most popular roleplaying game, with enough ambiguity that it can also be used in OSR approaches.)

I'd love to know what you think!  Unless you hate it.  No, actually...let me know if you hate it.  Either way, I hope I'll keep on wasting my time on it...!


HD: d8


Simple weapons

Any 3 musical instruments OR handguns and any 2 musical instruments

Any 3 skills




Cantrips Known

Sounds Known

Sound Slots per Spell Level




Soundcasting, Pick It Up






Ska’d for Life












Ability Score Improvement






Rudies can channel the energy and spirit of ska to affect the world in profound and arguably magical ways.  Specific capabilities are known as Sounds and follow the general rules of spellcasting by other classes.  Cantrips (0-level Sounds) and Sounds known per level are on the Rudie table (above).

Pick It Up

The upbeats give you life!  On your turn, you can use a bonus action to regain hit points equal to 1d8 + your Rudie level.

Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.


Ska’d for Life

[Rules still to come...lemme know if you have ideas, please...!]




Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Sounds (examples):

A Message to You Rudy (Cantrip)You point your finger toward a creature within range and whisper a message. The target (and only the target) hears the message and can reply in a whisper that only you can hear.
You can cast this spell through solid objects if you are familiar with the target and know it is beyond the barrier. Magical silence, 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood blocks the spell. The spell doesn't have to follow a straight line and can travel freely around corners or through openings.

Ball of Fire (Cantrip) - You hurl a ball of fire at a creature or object within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 1d10 fire damage. A flammable object hit by this spell ignites if it isn't being worn or carried.


Okay...I hope to post some characters (and Sounds) as the weeks roll on...and maybe work them into the bigger Monstrousverse as far as I'm capable.  I'm gonna make as many Saturdays as I can into SKAturdays (your groans don't phase me, by the way).

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 18, 2023

I've got a feeling this year's for me and you

Just one week to go before the big day!  Seven more sleeps till Christmas!

I'm gonna make this a bit of a holiday season catch-all post.  I actually have quite a bit I want to blurt out before the year is done.  Maybe.  If I have the mental endurance to get it all down.  Here goes... may recognize the source of the words in this post's title...the Pogues' classic holiday tune "Fairytale of New York."  I can't let the year pass without acknowledging the loss of a great soul just a few weeks back, the inimitable Shane MacGowan.

Image snagged from the Belfast Telegraph

Shane (I don't really think he'd mind my calling him Shane) was a poet extraordinaire, a brilliant observer of the human condition, and a man who owned his voice like no one else.

"Fairytale of New York" is one of the most beautiful of all Christmas songs and honestly maybe of ALL songs.  You don't hear it as much these days due to its inclusion of a homophobic slur.  And I really do get that; it's kind of grating to my lib ears every time I hear it.  And...well, I'm not even going to put a video of the song here because I'm afraid it'll offend someone.

I do recall reading a response from MacGowan about the controversy brought on by the line where he said something along the lines of "she's not a good person" (referring to the female character in the song who says the word).  (Note also that I haven't paused to find that source again, so I think I'm paraphrasing pretty accurately but may also be doing so incompletely.)

EDIT: Kelvin's comments (and link) below encouraged me to do a little digging to see if there is a "MacGowan-approved" edited version of the tune.  I haven't found that to be the case, BUT I did find the more complete quote (or a similar one) that I paraphrased above and though it was worth sharing (from HERE for one):

“The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character. She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person. She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history, and she is down on her luck and desperate. Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it, but she is not intended to offend! She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable. Sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively.”

I've come to think that this approach actually gets to the heart of the song's beauty, and indeed, the heart of what is so poetic about a lot of MacGowan's music.  He saw the flaws of humans and still told their stories with love and a recognition that we all have souls and dreams.  That's a perspective we could use more of.

He will be missed.

So what else is going on for Christmas?  Well, I just want to remind anyone reading this that they can go HERE to pick up a free holiday adventure about Santa's Elves fighting holiday abominations and trying to save Baby New Year.  So that's cool.  It was also written by me, so there's the caveat.
Reflecting on the various gaming items I've put out into the world, I think "In Bleakest Midwinter" has probably held up as one of the most useful and generally accessible.  In 2024, I hope to revisit it, "updating" as necessary and potentially altering the rules used/implied to fit in more with the system I'd like to adopt as a sort of "house system" for Monstrous Matters, a variation on the approach I started with my own fantasy heartbreaker way back when, and which will be connected to both 5E and OSR gaming.  Right now, I'm pretty drawn to the idea of a house system for the blog as one way of connecting the various threads I inevitably follow on here, no matter how much I try to focus on one thing.  So...we'll see how long it takes before this intention goes the same way as all the others...!

Pic from HERE, which also has a brief discussion of this little guy's Public Domain status
When I do make those changes, I also hope to spend a little bit of time exploring my own canon of holiday stories.  Justin's post over at Halls of the Nephilim on holiday adventures has a list I need to check (twice...har har har) to see if there are others I can fit into the same universe as the Elves of "In Bleakest Midwinter," and I'd love to build out a more complete mix of fiction to include.  This would obviously(!) start with the Rankin/Bass classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and stack up from there, with the first continuity explanation necessary probably being why everyone at the North Pole is such an a-hole in that story.  And does Krampus fit in?  A Christmas Carol?  The Ghostbusters' encounter with Ebenezer Scrooge?  The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special?  If I'm actually able to stick to a focus on the Monstrous Heartbreaker as a unifying system, it may be a lot of fun to explore this as a segment of...the Monstrousverse...?

At any rate...I hope you enjoy your holiday season, everyone!!

Thursday, December 14, 2023

This Day in Anthro History: The TMNT cartoon

Another goal in 2024: Regain some focus on posting "This Day in Anthro History" entries here at Monstrous Matters.  Not sure why, but I really dig this as a "feature" of the blog.  So, to get in that we go...

In arguably one of the biggest moments ever in anthro history, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon was released (in syndication) on this date in 1987.

So much about this cartoon is just...classic.  Like this intro...

I'd say there's a very good chance that if this cartoon never came to be, I would not be spending my time on a "This Day in Anthro History" blog feature in 2023 and 2024.

So, yeah...this cartoon is a big deal.  I think there's a very good chance you'll agree...although probably not for that reason.  More for the fact that it was a part of making TMNT one of the biggest pop culture phenomena of its time...!

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Up for a game of Manaball?

Just want to note that I've made a little subpage here for Manaball, a casual Magic: The Gathering format that occurred to me at some point and that I'd like to promote if I can.  (There's a link up there, under the header.)

Made using the MTG Card Maker at MTG Cardsmith

Manaball was conceived of and first played several years ago.  I've enjoyed it.  (It even inspired a card game that I designed for a friend.)  I've tried to share it online a couple of can click HERE to see a reddit post, and I'm pretty sure I posted it to at least one forum...but it really never gained any traction.  I'm honestly not sure what it takes for a "silly" fan-made alternative format like this to catch on, but I'm sure the success stories of stuff like Oathbreaker, Horde Magic, and of course Commander plant a little seed of hope in my heart that this could catch on and I could find excited opponents.  It was actually realizing that Wacky Races, a format first shared online back in 2016, really blew up this year when it was presented on reddit by an enthusiast, that influenced my decision to give it a permanent home where folks might happen to run into it online (extremely awkward sentence, sorry).

If you DO play it...or if you just have thoughts/ideas/feelings associated with it...well, I'd love to hear all about it!

Hopefully more to come on this...



I've got some plans in the my head at least(!) alter my approach here at Monstrous Matters when the new year comes around.  There are some changes that I think will increase the chances that I'll accomplish some goals here on the blog.  One of those changes is that I'd like to focus more on the lives and adventures of some personal characters.  I is, at least in part, an appreciation of stories that brings us together over these topics, so I want to attempt to put more stories into the aether for others to find.

The first of those characters that I'm throwing into the mix is Sergiu Pijha.

I don't have an updated picture yet, but he looks a little like this...

Sergiu is a part of the Gruul Clans of Ravnica, and he and others from the Ghor-Clan make up the Gruul representative in the Perimeter District Manaball League.  I'll present his character stats soon...!