Friday, December 21, 2007

The Black Parade

This idea came while listening to a song on the radio (I later found out it is called Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance). It is not particularly original, as I mostly attempted to make the lyrics at the beginning of the song make sense literally. I just now combined it with another idea I had after reading reports from the Realms Beyond Adventure: Boudica the Great for Civilization IV.

The opening of the song:

When I was a young boy,
My father took me into the city
To see a marching band.
He said,
"Son when you grow up, will you be the savior of the broken,
The beaten and the damned?"
He said
"Will you defeat them, your demons, and all the non believers, the plans that they have made?"
Because one day I leave you,
A phantom to lead you in the summer,
To join the black parade."

In my head, the marching band was not made up of musicians but the unique warriors of a reviled but misunderstood nation. These warriors act as hosts for phantoms, disembodied spirits that grant fantastic powers. They render their hosts ageless and effectively immortal barring some accident. Unfortunately, the phantoms also utilize their hosts to wage and unending war on demonkind, so often do they come face to face with fatal accidents.

The phantoms live on unscathed by the death of the host. I have not determined how sentient and conscious the host is in the partnership. Does he yield both body and will to the phantom, effectively ceasing to be? Or are they partners in a symbiotic relationship, each offering their strengths to the other?

Regardless, these phantoms and their hosts gather each summer in the capital of the nation and create the Black Parade. They march throughout the entire land when demonkind is at its weakest and least active, bolstering the will of the people. The citizens of this nation know the immortal phantoms by sight, glimpsing them in two ways. First, much like the spirit of wrath that possessed Orson in Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of a Heroic Knight, the phantoms loom transparent above their hosts. Then, also like that spirit, they burrow their way inside the body and elicit a physical change. Where the spirit of wrath caused Orson's muscles to bulge and his eyes to roll back until only the whites showed, these phantoms can cause drastically more extreme changes. Some hosts expand to 10 feet in height while others grow multiple sets of arms and sprout horns. All of them adopt fanciful coloration (not necessarily colorful; even a harlequin is fanciful in but black and white) and accouterments. These forms are unique to each phantom, and thus they relay at each year's Black Parade that while the human hosts may differ, the ever vigilant phantoms remain the same.

How does this combine with Civilization IV? In any game of Civilization, you play as a particular leader, such as Boudica of the Celts or Isabella of Spain. But the game spans more than 6000 years of time, so how is it that the same leader traits characterize your civilization's leaders throughout that entire period? Obviously it is an abstraction in the game, but the concept of the phantoms allows for that to be true.

This nation is ruled by a phantom who possessed one host after another from time immemorial. All of its hosts in the recent past (several generations) have been willing, allowing themselves to be possessed in service of their countrymen. Whether this was true in the past is unknown. I will note here as well that the phantom population at large possesses willing hosts, often with a form of heredity mixed in (such as the singer receiving the phantom from his father; this would also imply a level of symbiosis between host and phantom rather than the phantom completely taking over the host's body and quashing his will).

Enough for now, time for bed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

An Image of Blood

Sudden idea while watching an AMV of Blood the Last Vampire:

In the movie, viewed as a very short clip in the video, a man stands before a sign while being illuminated by a spotlight or car headlight. He holds his hand up to shield his eyes from the light. Directly behind him, the sign has a bloody handprint on it pretty much where his hand's shadow would be (at first glance, of course).

My idea: A creature whose shadow appears as a pool of blood, with sharper shadows producing sharper details (such as a spotlight producing a handprint complete with ridge detail on the sign). Obviously, all the normal avenues for cool, creepy shadow remain available here with just the added flavor of blood (an animated shadow, shadow-stepping, etc).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Big Names for Big Guys

Big McLargeHuge
Hunk Rockbottom
Blast Hardcheese
Slam Bulkhead
Bridge Largemeat
Punt Speedchunk
Butch Deadlift
Bald Bigplank
Splint Chesthair
Flint Ironstag
Bulk Vanderhuge
Thick Mcrunfast
Buff Drinklots
Slunk Slabchest
Fist Rockbone
Stomp Beefmob
Smash Lampjaw
Punch Rockgroin
Buck Plankchest
Stump Chokemen
Dirk Hardpeck
Rip Steakface
Crud Bonemeal
Brick Hardmeat
Rip Slabcheek
Gristle McThornbody
Crack Stuntman

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Next, a Mage in McWoD

Chris Johnson, aka Frank Cadillac, the main character in the movie Next would make a kick-ass Mage in Monte Cook's World of Darkness.

The scenes at the end of the movie where the FBI strike team surrounds him and he walks, sans bullet-proof vest, like a total badass and mastermind in their midst. He points, they shoot, a bad guy dies. Every time. Bad guy lays a trap, he stops right before the trigger and dismantles it.

And the climax when he walks right at the bad guy holding the girl hostage, augering the right path to avoid every shot until the gun clicks empty, was totally hot. I may very well buy this DVD.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stroking My Ego

I am not the only person who really enjoyed my posts. These are a few of the comments left in response:

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Thanks for the great read, Strovil.
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What a wonderful report! You have a very enjoyable writing style. I want more!
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Man, when I read the title to this thread, I thought "this sounds like Eldric" and a split second later my eye had scanned right and confirmed my intuition.

Feel my disappointment then, when it wasn't an article BY Eldric, like the last one about his pre-release match domination, but instead another referral. I appreciate the links, but they never live up to the standard set by Eldric that day. I guess the pro's are at a disadvantage; it's hard to stay fresh when you have to write articles all the time.

Huggy
PS You know, I finally played Hecatomb this weekend, and I think that game would suit Eldric perfectly.

PPS And Eldric, that spoiler trick is cool. You are like, the HTML MASTER!
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This last part is not a quote but simply a statement: Planeswlk really liked my rogue decks (as previously posted) and apparently he played with each of them for several weeks, trying out his own changes, after I posted the lists on the forum. He never had as much luck as myself with most of them, likely because I posted the lists after the deck was tuned for the current field but just prior to a change in the metagame (e.g. Yukora & Friends was posted just before Guildpact came out so he was playing Y&F against an all new set of decks).

Strovil Slays Students at Ravnica Prerelease

I could not go to the Ravnica prerelease on Saturday because of kendo practice, so I set my sights on Sunday. At first, I was not planning to go. I had quite a bit of work to do and, while I could finish it all even while going to the tournament, it would mess with my normal Sunday rhythm. Long story short, I decided to catch the 12 noon flight at Neutral Ground. The last prerelease I attended was in Arizona. I felt it was at once more professional and more casual. But I never expect anything in New York City to be even close to its Arizona counterpart in quality. I got into Blue flight, seat 5. The flight had about 20 people total; a few old men (as in gray beards and balding), a few young kids, and mostly the teens that make up the bulk of Magic. My card pool looked like crap. None of my rares made it into my deck (the only one on-color cost 9 mana and my curve would not support that). I ended up playing 4 colors. During deck construction, a Magic veteran (known around Neutral Ground) in my flight was asking people about their favorite colors and what colors they would be playing. He asked if anyone was U/B because there were a ton of islands and swamps left in the land pile. Seeing that everyone was going R/W with G splash, I decided to metagame a little. My best color was Red. I had creatures all along the curve and a few tricky spells. I figured a lot of people would go RW because it is so easy to make and play thanks to Boros. Lucky me, I opened a 2/2 mountainwalking goblin. Also because of the Boros interactions, I added White even though it was not very deep. My best cards were probably Sunhome and Watchwolf, so that also helped with the White splash. Then I came to the metagame. Because a lot of forests were gone from the land pile, I added Ivy Dancer (tap to give forestwalk to a creature). I also added Bramble Elemental because I needed some creatures with a back-end. From my very first pass through the cards, I knew that I did not want to play a lot of Black but I absolutely would splash for Disembowel (XB, destroy a creature with converted mana cost X). And when the guy was asking about UB, I knew I should add Dimir House Guard (2/3 fear, sac a creature to regenerate). I already was light on good creatures and having an evader that would not see another Black creature all day seemed like a good bet. So I ended up playing RW with a two card splash in each of Green and Black (although with the two GW cards I guess Green was more like a 4 card splash). Round 1 - Bye. Yay! Round 2 - Ari. Ari was one of the younger kids in the flight. I would say something from 10-13 years old, but I am a poor judge of age. Ari was playing WR and, because he does not know how to hold his cards across the table from someone 6'5" tall, I knew his bomb rare was Razia. He ended up winning 2-0 in round one against a mana-screwed and then mana-flooded opponent. He had no such luck with me. Game 1 I got in some real hard, real fast beats. His life total went: 20 19 10 6 2 The all-star of game 1: Sunhome. Tapping five lands for double-strike is definitely worth it. My unblockable, double-striking Sabretooth Alley Cat finished him off. And something amusing happened on the last turn. He was at 2. Even without doublestrike, he was going to die to the Cat. But he was smart. He had a 3/2 white flier who tapped, sacced, and dealt 3 damage to an attacker or blocker. I attacked. He sacced. I cast Bathe in Light (target creature, and all creatures that share its color(s), gain protection from the color of your choice), naming White, on my Cat. He cast his own Bathe in Light on my Cat, naming White, and proclaimed "Ha! Now your guy is pro-white, so your Light is countered ... (wait for it) ... (wait for it) ... oh, I'm so stupid!" Game 2 was a bit slower. He had some fliers, I had some beef. He was pinging me with a 1/2 flier and then a 3/2 flier, taking me down to 10while he went up to 23 life with a Centaur (when it dies you gain 3 life). Unfortunately for him, I laid down a 3/3 watchwolf, 3/4 forgeling, 3/3 flier, and a 4/4 bramble elemental. He would have to stop pressing the attack and trade 2-for-1 in order to stop the beats. He did not. The turn before he died, he went from 12 to 2 (to give you an idea of how hard I hit). Just for fun we played a third game. He got mana screwed and I got a fast 2/2, so he conceded that and we started a fourth. I won that one. Round 3 was against Ben. Because this was a secondary flight, we only had three rounds. So I convinced Ben to draw and we each got 5 packs. But we also had 50 minutes to wait before we could get our prizes, so we played. I do not remember all the details, but I do know that in game 1 my Dimir House Guard went all the way. His life went down by 2 from 20 to 8, then I drew Sunhome and doublestruck him twice. However, two things were pretty cool here. 1. Sunhome is not legendary, despite all appearances to the contrary. He had one in play and I thought my lay would destroy them both. Then I noticed it was not legendary. I think it should be. 2. We both had lots of guys on the board. They were all in a big stalemate except the Dimir and his growing army of saproling tokens. I was up 14-4 when he busted out a 7 mana Wrath of God - Destroy all nontoken creatures. It felt like victory was wrested from my grasp. I asked to see the card. "Destroy all nontoken creatures." What is missing from that picture? "They cannot regenerate." Well, my Dimir can. Game. Another cool thing, at least to my mind, happened in game three. We were using the new Pro Player cards for his token creatures. In game 3, he played a Hunted Llamasu (cheap 5/5 flier that gives your opponent a 4/4 black Horror). I used Tim Aten as my Horror. This game saw my Mountainwalking Goblins and forestwalker-maker Ivy Dancer beat him senseless. The death blow in that game came in a most awesome manner. He had at least 6 creatures on the board: 2 white, 1 red, 3 RW multicolor guys. His flier and a Sabretooth Alley Cat knocked me down to 8 life. I had lethal damage on the board, but 4 guys to go through. Next turn, he could probably alpha-strike me for the win (and even if not, his guys would definitely kill me in two more). The situation looked grim. Just for fun, I had him untap all his guys just to show him how the Master plays Magic. Step 1. Incite Hysteria on his RW guy. "Creatures that share a color with target creature can't block this turn." But that was too easy. Why have him untap his guys and then not show him anything tricky? So, Step 1. Incite Hysteria on his W guy. Now, that means there was a single red guy left who could block my 4/4 Tim Aten (a Sabretooth Alley Cat). Step 2. Bathe in Light on my Atenyville Horror, calling Red. Step 3. Beat in his face. Someone at the beginning of the tournament said they thought Radiance sucked. I do not believe that at all. Bathe in Light and Incite Hysteria never failed to do miraculous things for me. So at the end of the short day, I was 3-0 in matches, 6-0 in games (technically 7-0 but I do not count the mana-screw concession). I thought about playing in another flight, but I still had stuff to do. In a final note, during my first round bye, I put together a UB deck. I figured if my RW sucked in the first round, I could always use the UB to try and make it up. I never had to use it at the tournament, so when I got home I pit it against my RW. It ripped it a new one. Favorite card from Ravnica: Not sure yet. There are lots of good cards, but the one that left my jaw agape was found in one of my prize packs. Phytohydra 2GWW Creature - Plant Hydra If damage would be dealt to Phytohydra, put that many +1/+1 counters on it instead. 1/1 Like Fungusaur (one of my favorite cards) on crack. Even the picture just screams, "FEED ME, SEYMOUR!!"

Tolarian Polytechnic

The name played off the awesomely broken Magic card Tolarian Academy. The rest is explained below:

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This was originally submitted as an article but for whatever reason it was not published. However, as it was written for the greater benefit of the League, I have decided to post it here. The Rules Digest addresses common rules questions (those that appear time and again) I have answered in #Judges4You over the past few weeks. Whereas the purpose of #Judges4You is to give you the answer to your question, the purpose of Tolarian Polytechnic is twofold: first, to give you an explanation for the ruling you received and second, to give you a firmer grasp of Magic rules in general, using the common questions as springboards for broader concepts. Some, if not many, of the questions presented in Tolarian Polytechnic will seem basic and even remedial to those acquainted with Magic rules. However, their frequent appearance in #Judges4You justifies a greater depth in addressing them. This first installment of the Rules Digest is deliberately repetitive and didactic. Further issues will become progressively more intimate and informal. -------- Sure, that other school in Tolaria gets all the attention, but Tolarian Polytechnic has a long, mostly unheard of, reputation of its own. I am Strovil, a Judge 1 here at Magic-League and de facto Dean of Tolarian Polytechnic. This is the first of our Rules Digests, wherein I explain the rules behind #Judges4You’s most common, as well as most complex, rules questions in accordance with our school motto: Give a man a ruling and he plays for a game; teach a man a ruling and he plays for a lifetime. You might have heard something or other about teaching people to fish but that is just a byproduct of the Tolarian Fishing Conglomerate’s stranglehold on outgoing mail. Enough introductions; let us proceed to the matter at hand. 1) The question that is, perhaps, the most oft asked of recent weeks goes thusly: “My opponent uses Enduring Ideal to get Dovescape. On his next upkeep, does Ideal resolve or does he get birds?” Systematically, the first step is to read the cards’ most recent Oracle wordings on Gatherer, Apprentice, or MWS. Enduring Ideal Sorcery Search your library for an enchantment card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library. Epic (For the rest of the game, you can’t play spells. At the beginning of each of your upkeeps, copy this spell except for its epic ability.) Dovescape Enchantment Whenever a player plays a noncreature spell, counter that spell. That player puts X 1/1 white and blue Bird creature tokens with flying into play, where X is the spell’s converted mana cost. Now, the operative words here are “whenever a player plays a noncreature spell” on Dovescape and either “you can’t play spells” or “copy this spell except for its epic ability” on Enduring Ideal. Dovescape only triggers when a player “plays” a spell. Enduring Ideal states that you cannot play spells and does not specify that you play the copy (because, indeed, you cannot play spells, even copies of them; compare to Isochron Scepter). So, does Dovescape trigger? Does the opponent get birds? No, because the copy of Enduring Ideal created by the Epic ability goes straight onto the stack. Your opponent does not play the copy. This is confirmed in the Comprehensive Rules:
Quote:
502.44b - A player can't play spells once a spell with epic he or she controls resolves, but effects (such as the epic ability itself) can still put copies of spells onto the stack.2) What is probably the next most common question hinges on terminology. “I attack with Isamaru equipped with Jitte and my opponent blocks with Nantuko Husk. He stacks damage and then sacrifices the Husk. Does my Jitte get counters?” Once again, we start with the Oracle wording (this time only the relevant portion): * Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage, put two charge counters on Umezawa’s Jitte. The operative word here is “deals.” In combat, you assign damage to blockers and player and then it goes onto the stack. But combat damage (or any damage) is not dealt until it resolves. So what happens if the other creature is not around when damage resolves? Is the assigned damage still considered dealt? No. From the Comprehensive Rules:
Quote:
310.4c - If a creature that was supposed to receive combat damage is no longer in play or is no longer a creature, the damage assigned to it isn't dealt.So the damage from Isamaru that was assigned to Nantuko Husk is not dealt. Since Umezawa’s Jitte triggers on damage being dealt, it gets no counters. To take it a step further, what if the situation were reversed? What if a Husk with Jitte was blocked by Isamaru and, for whatever reason, sacrificed itself while damage was on the stack? Would the Jitte get counters? The answer is no. Even though the damage has already been assigned and put on the stack, so when it resolves it will still be dealt to the Hound of Konda, the Jitte will not get counters because the triggered ability specifies “whenever the equipped creature deals …” Since the Husk has been sacrificed, the Jitte is no longer equipped and there is no longer an ‘equipped creature’ dealing damage, although the damage is still dealt. 3) Our third case also deals with a difference in terminology and has come up a few times in the past few days. It is, however, very simple. “Can I use Story Circle to prevent damage from Kodama of the North Tree?” * The next time a source of your choice of the chosen color would deal damage to you this turn, prevent that damage. * Kodama of the North Tree can’t be the target of spells or abilities. The issue at hand is: does Story Circle target? The general rule in Magic is that if a spell or effect targets, it will say “target” in the text (the sole major exception are Enchantment – Aura cards, which target when you play them). Story Circle, Shining Shoal, Cytoshape, and other “choose” cards do not target the chosen source. The difficultly arises in part because both Shining Shoal and Cytoshape have a target in addition to the chosen source and because one chooses targets just the same as one chooses sources. Just keep the general rule in mind – unless the spell or ability says target, it does not target. 4) Our fourth question delves deep into the pit of despair known as The Layers. Those of you with heart problems or pregnancy may wish to skip down to the last section. “If I pay U to switch Windreaver’s power and toughness to 3/1 and then pay W to pump his toughness, is he a 3/2?” The relevant text is not on the card but wholly within the rules morass of the P/T layers. Allow me to separate the layers into lines as they are written as a paragraph in the Comprehensive Rules:
Quote:
418.5a - The values of an object's characteristics are determined by starting with the actual object, then applying continuous effects in a series of layers in the following order: (1) copy effects; (2) control-changing effects; (3) text-changing effects; (4) type-, subtype-, and supertype-changing effects; (5) all other continuous effects, except those that change power and/or toughness; and (6) power- and/or toughness-changing effects. Inside each layer from 1 through 5, apply effects from characteristic-setting abilities first, then all other effects. Inside layer 6, apply effects in a series of sublayers in the following order: (6a) effects from characteristic-setting abilities; (6b) all other effects not specifically applied in 6c, 6d, or 6e; (6c) changes from counters; (6d) effects from static abilities that modify power and/or toughness but don't set power and/or toughness to a specific number or value; and (6e) effects that switch a creature's power and toughness.We shall mainly deal with layer 6 and its 5 sublayers (traditional models hold that Hell has only 9 layers; apparently our deepest two were unknown even to stalwart Dante and Virgil). When you apply continuous effects to a creature’s power and toughness, you apply them in the appropriate layers. Timestamps only apply if two or more effects apply in the same layer. Since modifying P/T and switching P/T are separate layers, we need not concern ourselves with timestamps; no matter the order, the result would be the same. Despite that, we will look at this in order to aid learning. Windreaver is naturally a 1/3 creature. Our questioner said he spent U to switch its P/T. Since this is the only effect, we can simply apply it in the appropriate layer to the natural 1/3 and we find that Windreaver is now a 3/1. Then he spends W to give Windreaver +0/+1. What happens? Whenever you go to the layers, you start with the natural values and apply effects in order. So we take Windreaver as a 1/3 and move down the list until we apply the switch and the +0/+1. Windreaver’s +0/+1 ability applies in layer 6d. It is a static ability that modifies P/T without setting it to a specific number. So now Windreaver is a 1/4 creature. We continue on to 6e where P/T switches occur. So our 1/4 Windreaver now becomes a 4/1. Notice that no matter which ability is played first and last, they will always be applied in the same order and you will always end up with a 4/1 Windreaver. 5) And with that we leave behind common rules questions and come to my favorite part of being a judge: difficult, complex, corner-case rules questions. The first is the product of a reject rare draft, one of my favorite formats. “I use Mizzium Transreliquat to copy Panoptic Mirror and imprint Spinal Embrace. Then I copy Isochron Scepter. Can I play Spinal Embrace off the Scepter?” This requires looking through the rules for copying and for imprint. The most essential bit we learn from the copy rules is that a copy of a permanent has the activated abilities of that permanent.
Quote:
503.2 - When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object's characteristics (name, mana cost, color, type, supertype, subtype, expansion symbol, rules text, power, and toughness)So when Mizzium Transreliquat copies Panoptic Mirror, it gains the Mirror’s imprint ability. * Imprint — X, T: You may remove an instant or sorcery card with converted mana cost X in your hand from the game. (That card is imprinted on this artifact.) So what happens when you then copy Isochron Scepter? Does the imprinted card remain imprinted?
Quote:
502.34a - Imprint is an activated or triggered ability, written "Imprint - [text]," where "[text]" is a triggered or activated ability. Cards that are in the removed-from-the-game zone because they were removed from the game by an imprint ability are imprinted on the source of that ability. 502.34.Ruling.1 - If a permanent with imprint phases out and back in, it's still the same permanent, so any cards imprinted on it remain imprinted on it.Now, we know that the imprint ability was copied and could be used, so 502.34a just confirms that the card is imprinted on the source of the ability (the Mizzium Transreliquat). From Ruling 1 (a rule clarification made by Wizards’ Rules Team), it can be inferred that the card remains imprinted on Mizzium Transreliquat even though it is copying a different card because it is still the same permanent. In fact, it would remain imprinted even if the Transreliquat copied a card that did not have imprint because remaining imprinted on a card is not dependent on it having the imprint ability. So we know that Spinal Embrace is still imprinted on the Transreliquat when it copies Isochron Scepter. But can you play it with Isochron Scepter’s ability? * Imprint — When Isochron Scepter comes into play, you may remove an instant card with converted mana cost 2 or less in your hand from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) 2, T: You may copy the imprinted instant card. If you do, you may play the copy without paying its mana cost. Looking at the imprint ability’s restriction of “converted mana cost 2 or less” may sway you towards no but let us look at the Comprehensive Rules.
Quote:
502.34b - The phrase "imprinted [type] card" means the card of that type that's imprinted on the permanent. If a permanent has more than one card of that type imprinted on it, each of those cards is an "imprinted [type] card." 502.34.Ruling.4 - If a permanent gains an ability that refers to an imprinted [type] card, it refers to any cards of that type that are currently imprinted. It does not mean that you get to imprint something new at that time.Isochron Scepter refers to the “imprinted instant card.” Spinal Embrace is an instant. Ruling 4 says that an ability that refers to an imprinted [type] card refers to any cards of that type currently imprinted on the card. Since Isochron Scepter refers to an imprinted instant card, and Spinal Embrace is an instant card, and Spinal Embrace is imprinted on the Mizzium Transreliquat copy of Isochron Scepter, then the ability works! Isochron Scepter only cares about the converted mana cost of the instant when you trigger its imprint ability upon coming into play. After that, because of the imprint rules, Isochron Scepter only cares if the imprinted card is an instant. It no longer looks at the converted mana cost of the card. Is this four card combo going to break games? No. But it could easily break your head if it ever came up in your reject rare draft. As your esteemed academic was writing, another whopper of a rule came by #Judges4You. Unfortunately, you will have to wait until next time to hear the tale.

Yukora & Friends

Blogger sucks. Why? Because when you copy & paste from another website or even a text editor, all line breaks are lost. So the decklists and paragraphs in the previous posts all came out like a giant block of text and I had to manually make it readable. In that sense, I lied about not editing. It is 3:30 am, I am tired, and even though this was the post that sparked my interest in archiving these "articles" here, I am going to leave it a giant block of text for now.

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Oh my god, Iwamori, look at her butt. It's so big. It looks like one of those Kami guys' girlfriends. Who understands those Kami guys? They only talk to her because she looks like a total Prisoner, ok? I mean her butt, It's just so big. I can't believe it's so round. It's just out there. I mean, it's gross. Look, she's just so Black. ... Sir Beats-In-Face presents: I like big beats and I cannot lie ... or These Beats are Made for Walkin' (Standard Legal) This is a deck I put together after browsing my old deck files. I came across my SuiBlack deck from the glorious but short time that Black Hand was popular and winning. Staring back at me was Yukora, the Prisoner. She looked pretty pissed. "Why aren't you playing me?! A 5/5 body for 4 isn't good enough for you anymore?!" Well, actually it is. Come, follow me, and bring your friends along. // Lands 5 Swamp 5 Forest 4 Llanowar Wastes 4 Overgrown Tomb 1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse 1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers // Creatures 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder 3 Arashi, the Sky Asunder 3 Kokusho, the Evening Star 4 Yukora, the Prisoner 3 Iwamori of the Open Fist/Hunted Troll // Spells 4 Putrefy 4 Umezawa's Jitte 3 Last Gasp 3 Hideous Laughter 2 Night of Souls' Betrayal 2 Rampant Growth 2 Farseek 3 Sensei's Divining Top Five-Finger Discount was probably my most complicated deck to play. Rats, Dredgimation, and now Yukora & Friends (aka The Fantastic Four) are all very straightforward. One premise behind Yukora & Friends was to skirt most of the removal in the format. In my earlier games, my opponents were relying on Last Gasp, Hideous Laughter, Shock, Lightning Helix, and Char to deal with creatures. You have to two or three for 1 to kill my fatties. My opponents also relied heavily on weenie rushes. Once again, to kill my creatures you would need to double and triple block them. Another underlying premise of Yukora & Friends was having cards in hand. My previous standard deck, Dredgimation, ran your hand down to nothing pretty quick and lived off the top of your deck (well, top 3 cards, thanks to Top). My even earlier standard deck, RW Weenie, emptied its hand very quickly. With this, you only need to play one creature at a time. The rest of your cards can stay in hand. If I play Yukora on turn 3, you now have to deal with a 5/5 and do it quickly. Once you do, I can lay another 5/5 and repeat all game. I rarely put more than one creature on the field at a time. Now how do we play this: In your opening hand, you want to see at least 2 land, an accelerant, and a 4cc fattie. The "God Hand" (tm) is as follows: Overgrown Tomb Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers/Forest Shizo, Death's Storehouse/Swamp Sakura-Tribe Elder Iwamori of the Open Fist Umezawa's Jitte Last Gasp/Putrefy/Night of Souls' Betrayal Turn 1: Overgrown Tomb Turn 2: Okina, Sakura-Tribe Elder EOT: Sacrifice Elder for a Forest Turn 3: Shizo, Iwamori Turn 4: Jitte, equip, administer savage beats to opponent's face Turn 5: Liberally reapply prescription beatings at a higher dosage The deck has undergone a few weeks of testing (originally designed on my mother's birthday, December 10th) and right now this is the semi-optimal build. I am still tooling around with it and only recently added in the Tops and accelespells (in place of Golgari Signets to act as shuffle effects). It used to have a problem with reaching 5+ mana but now I usually sit around 6-7, allowing me to consider increasing the number of higher cost fatties (all of whom used to be 4-ofs). Night of Souls' Betrayal is a brick (da da da da) house. If my opponent is laying down Goblins, Elves, Bobs, or Birds in the first few turns, I will play NoSB on turn 3 without even thinking about a fattie. It wipes the board cleaner than a fourth grader in detention. I usually kill two or three creatures. I have killed five or six at once. I have even garnered a concession upon laying NoSB, as my opponent could not play any creature in his deck. "Night of Souls' Betrayal. Kills decks. Dead." Umezawa's Jitte is mandatory. I was playing with O-Naginata to ensure Yukora had trampling and it beat some serious face. But my opponents were winning anyway thanks to Jitte counters. Even with 4 Putrefy and creature removal, I still had a hell of a time dealing with Jittes. So I added four of my own and, as with any card so broken, it wins games. It, too, has earned a concession after playing out the "God Hand" (tm) detailed above. I am still not sold on whether I prefer Farseek or Rampant Growth. I have only tested them a few games now and either one does the job just fine. If I keep running into Blood Moon Goblins, though, I will go with the Rampant Growth because it can grab forests. Sensei's Divining Top is the latest addition. The deck had nothing to do turn 1 and it had little to do on later turns besides cast a removal spell or creature, so the Top came in. So far, it has worked well but not stunningly. Still, I think I would keep 2 maindeck at a minimum. Here is the sideboard, in all its glory: // Sideboard SB: 1 Kokusho, the Evening Star SB: 1 Hunted Troll SB: 1 Hideous Laughter SB: 2 Night of Souls' Betrayal SB: 2 Rampant Growth SB: 2 Farseek SB: 1 Sensei's Divining Top SB: 4 Iwamori of the Open Fist/Hunted Troll SB: 4 O-Naginata SB: 4 Gleancrawler SB: 4 Naturalize SB: 4 Plague Boiler SB: 4 Kodama of the North Tree SB: 4 Wood Elves SB: 4 Phyrexian Arena The top half is just making the 2 and 3 ofs in the deck a full playset. I see-saw back and forth between running Iwamori and Hunted Troll in the maindeck. Iwamori is the better beater but he wins games for your opponent if they are playing GhaziGlare or Greater Gifts. Hunted Troll is a safe bet if you have NoSB in play or Hideous Laughter in hand. As a bonus, he regenerates, so you typically only open him up to Last Gasp if you use NoSB. I usually maindeck Hunted Troll when I am looking for games and then decide whether to board in Iwamori after seeing my opponent's deck. Against UB Fish, Goblins, Heartbeat Combo, and other decks with few or no Legends, Iwamori comes in. Against others, I keep the Troll. O-Naginata is not seeing much play of late. I usually do not want to drop removal for it and I rarely need the speed it gives my clock. Gleancrawler and Kodama of the North Tree are the more expensive fatties I am considering. I can easily see throwing them in for Arashi against non-flyer decks. As with Dredgimation, I like to have 4 Gleancrawler alongside 4 Kokusho for some disgusting life swings. Naturalize is very close to being a maindeck card. I am sick and tired of Greater Good and Glare of Subdual and Faith's Fetters. Wood Elves and Phyrexian Arena are from earlier versions of the deck. The elves were cut because I want to play something for 4 on turn 3 and the Arena was replaced by the Tops. Plague Boiler has yet to see play but it is my reset button. Since I only have 1 creature out at a time, I do not lose much.

Dredgimation Follow-Ups

A quick collection of posts after I had finished work on Dredgimation. Some of these may be in reply to other posters.

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Having tuned Dredgimation into a nice casual T2 deck, and having created the janktastic pile of crap known as Gifts of Dominaria (Eternal Dominion/Tron deck; trust me, fun to confuse your opponent but no one is running the necessary bombs for that card), I now need another deck concept. I am looking only for T2 decks. A limited card pool keeps me focused and it is always easier to find standard games for testing. I am not seeking to necessarily break a card or make a deck around a junk rare or anything like that. I certainly could, if the idea interests me. But the only requirement for this thread is ideas. Not up for grabs: Milling, Searing Meditation, Dredgimation, and Epic spells.

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I am working on 2 1/2 decks right now.

Deck 1: I am trying to create a milling deck with Dampen Thought. So far, it has not worked out as well as I want.

Deck 1.5: I am trying to create an arcane milling deck with Dampen Thought and The Unspeakable's combo. This sucks even more than the milling deck but I like the arcane milling part. What it needs is a black or white splash for board clearing.

Deck 2: Affinity with a combo - Blanket of Night + Kormus Bell + Cursed Totem. Blanket of Night turns all lands into Swamps. Kormus Bell turns all Swamps into 1/1 creatures. Cursed Totem stops all activated abilities of creatures (including mana abilities). This means my opponent is totally locked out. Of course, he will have a bunch of 1/1 lands. But I will have Frogmite and Myr Enforcer and Ornithopter and Cranial Plating in addition to my 1/1 lands.

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Huggy, Dredgimation just took 2nd in a Standard tournament at O-Gaming. It decimated two different versions of the Rock, even winning a game against dual Cranial Extraction (Kokusho and Zombify; I beat him down with two Blazing Archons with counters from Vigor Mortis) but lost hard to Heartbeat Combo in the finals because I did not keep sideboard Naturalize (as you know, I keep all my idea cards in the sideboard; in order to join the tournament, I had to cut it down to 15). Nightmare Void was a key card all night. Necroplasm, on the other hand, may be getting the boot as I have seen fewer and fewer decks sporting tokens (although two decks tonight had Tatsumasa, and I was holding Necro both times, hoping they would play the dragon token).

I am going to test the deck with sideboard Naturalize in place of Plague Boiler. I have only twice brought in the Boilers, and both times were in the match against Heartbeat, so I am thinking Naturalize will be a much better choice (FYI, against Heartbeat side out Putrefy as it does nothing in that match and, if you feel he is close to comboing out, feel free to waste one on his Top in order to cut down his options, as long as you have another to take out Heartbeat).

Don't you hate that gut-wrenching feeling at the beginning of a tournament, when you wonder just how fast you will scrub out? And then as the games go on, it fades, only to be replaced by the wariness of not blowing your chance? And finally you end up feeling very pumped, whether you win or lose, because you made it to the finals with your own frickin' deck after taking down the netdecks?

WOO HOO!

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Another deck concept: Goodbye cards! When 9th edition came out, it brought back Jester's Cap and Hypnotic Specter. My first thought was, "Great. Neverending Torment, Jester's Cap, Hypnotic Specter, and Cranial Extraction all in the same format. Does Wizards just not want me to play any spells?"

My new deck concept is mono-black control or possible Bu control (interestingly enough, bu is Mandarin Chinese for no). Ravnica gives us the awesome Nightmare Void along with Circu, Dimir Lobotomist. When I first read Circu, I thought he just removed cards from the game. However, he also says "your opponent may not play non-land cards with the same name as a card removed from the game with Circu." That means, cast a Nightmare Void with Circu in play, you get to take the top card of his library out of the game and then pull a card out of his hand. And since the other copies of that removed card cannot be played, you can leave any of them in his hand and grab other stuff.

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Truth is, I rarely need to sideboard anything except Blazing Archon (4) for Grave-Shell Scarab and Naturalize (4) for Putrefy (typically; although I have replaced Stinkweed Imp before). Blazing Archon for Grave-Shell Scarab is done so often I continuously have to justify the bug in the maindeck. Usually, he makes my opponent think I am a fullblown Dredge deck and he makes some (minor) misplays. I have also brought in Recollect against a mill deck but I never used it (in part because he removed it from the game with Circu).

So officially my sideboard is:
SB: 4 Blazing Archon
SB: 4 Naturalize
SB: 3 Recollect
SB: 4 ???

I am actually considering Cranial Extraction and Shambling Shell right now. I want the Shell for matches where I want Necroplasm to stick around to hit bigger guys and against decks that have few creatures on the board.

There has been a change:
Out - 1 Stinkweed Imp (or Necroplasm; you end up with three of each instead of 4/3 split)
In - 1 Life from the Loam

Reasoning - In certain situations (Nightmare Void vs MUC), you end up dredging a lot and, therefore, not drawing extra lands/cards. Running MUC out of counters is all well and good, but then you have to hit 5-6 lands to hardcast your creatures and/or pull a reanimator. Life from the Loam gets you the lands and does it for cheap.

At first I put in a whole set instead of Sakura-Tribe Elder and I got screwed. The deck is not made to get cards by dredge and it needs to hit 4 mana as soon as possible. So I scaled it back to where it belongs. Ideally I would run 2 but I cannot figure out what to cut for the second Loam. I already do not like cutting down my 3-drops to 3 a piece and cutting a Grave-Shell (which I already tried), just delays the problem to when you try and sideboard in the Archons. With the Loam in hand or in the graveyard, you can Nightmare Void your opponent down then cast Loam, drop a land, and play Necro or Stinky. Next turn, you have 6 mana and can hardcast Kokusho or Grave-Shell and still have mana to Top.

The current changes being evaluated:
Out - 1-2 Grave-Shell Scarab
In - 1-2 Gleancrawler
Reasoning - Sometimes I really want/need to cast double Kokusho and then pull it off again over the next turns. Also, Grave-Shell has no evasion (the very reason he was not in the original build of the deck; I had been playing UB Reanimator and just about every deck I came against had chump blockers innumerable), whereas Gleancrawler tramples.

Now, why not just replace the dull Grave-Shell whole cloth? Because I may run into problems with Gleancrawler returning Kokusho to my hand. Getting to 12 mana takes a while with this deck. Getting to 10 happens two turns faster. Sometimes I want Kokusho to stay in the graveyard. However, I can also see the good aspects of Kokusho popping back to my hand turn after turn, especially when that means I still have a 6/6 trampler on the board. And God forbid I have Gleancrawler and Sakura-Tribe Elder.

Out - 1 Swamp
In - Miren, the Moaning Well
Reasoning - Back when I was playing UB Reanimator, I got crushed by Fungus Fire when he cast Devouring Light on the only win condition I had seen all game (Kokusho).

I hated UB Reanimator. It sucked so hard in my hands that I had to make a different version. Hence Dredgimation. Now, Kokusho is still here. I have yet to see Devouring Light from my opponent but I have seen a number of games where I lose the turn before my opponent would die. Miren is a win condition with Kokusho and a stall with Gleancrawler. My only problem with bringing in Miren is that it requires leaving 4 lands open. This is fine and dandy when I have Kokusho on the board for a turn, but they typically have that window of opportunity to screw me. Of course, it also opens up some windows of screwitude as well. Kumano takes a lot of mana to kill Kokusho. Neither would one Yamabushi Flame get rid of him. But use Kumano once or YFlame my dragon in response to Miren and say goodbye to my favorite creature.

Want to know why Kokusho is my favorite creature? I was playing a Champions-Betrayers sealed deck tournament. My bomb creature was Kokusho. I also had Stir the Grave and Soulless Revival. I also had Pull Under and Call for Blood. I won nearly half my games using those tricks. "Attack with Kokusho. Pull Under on Kokusho. GG."

Relentless Rats

Relentless Rats

36 Relentless Rats
24 Swamp

I am not going to waste my breath explaining how to play that.

Relentless Rats v2.0

20 Swamp
28 Relentless Rats
4 Chrome Mox
4 Night's Whisper
4 Last Gasp

SB: 4 Hideous Laughter
SB: 4 Night of Souls' Betrayal
SB: 4 Coat of Arms
SB: 3 Marrow-Gnawer

If you can Chrome Mox into a Night's Whisper on turn 1 off a Relentless Rats, do it. Once you hit three mana, all you care about it playing Rats. If you hit six mana, all you care about is playing 2 Rats. Phyrexian Arena could replace Night's Whisper, but why compete with playing another Rat. I have actually beaten an Extended-worthy Elf deck by accelerating into turn 3 Night of Souls' Betrayal in game 2. Game 3 he switched decks (jerk). Truth be told, I have never boarded in Coat of Arms or Marrow-Gnawer, so feel free to replace them in the board. Cruel Edict has a place.

Dredgimation

Dredgimation
or Ravnica in Flames

10 Swamp
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Forest
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Stinkweed Imp
3 Necroplasm
4 Kokusho, the Evening Star
4 Grave-Shell Scarab
3 Sensei's Divining Top
4 Zombify
4 Nightmare Void
4 Vigor Mortis
4 Putrefy

SB: 4 Naturalize
SB: 4 Blazing Archon
SB: 4 [Insert your favorite big fattie here]
SB: 3 Recollect

The deck is very simple to play. Just hit three land and play a Necroplasm or Stinkweed Imp. Then hit four land and play Nightmare Void. Dredge a guy into the graveyard and animate him.

Use the Top to fix your draws or dredge. You do not need shuffle effects because your dredges pull the crud off the top.

Nightmare Void catches problem cards in hand. Putrefy gets them if they hit play. Naturalize or Plague Boiler can come in from the sideboard if you have to get rid of enchantments. (And if you really, really have to, Nightmare Void can get those uncastable bombs from your hand into the graveyard as well.)

Necroplasm kills tokens and weenies. You have no problem with him dying, immediately or later, because you get to dredge.

Stinkweed Imp stops attacks and, once again, you are fine with him dying. However, he is more dangerous than Necroplasm or Nightmare Void because even with top you lose two unknown cards and putting a reanimator into the graveyard can ruin a good setup.

You have your choice of 8 slots for bombs to reanimate; Blazing Archon, Grave-Shell Scarab and Kokusho are just the current recruits from a pool that includes Autochthon Wurm, Razia Boros Archangel, Firemane Angel, The Unspeakable, and Kuro Pitlord. Personally, I find it important to have at least a few that you can hardcast, in case your deck refuses to give up a reanimator. However, since you have Necroplasm and Stinkweed Imp and Nightmare Void, you are not so reliant on getting a reanimation spell "right now" to stay in the game.

If you have the choice, Vigor Mortis with green mana is best for Blazing Archon.

This deck took second place in an O-Gaming trial, losing in the finals to Heartbeat/Maga. I would have had a very, very good chance of winning the second game of that match (dredging Nightmare Void kills their hand) if only I had kept Naturalize in my sideboard instead of Plague Boiler (I was holding 2-3 Boilers when he went off; those would have been Naturalizes and they would have stopped the Heartbeat mana he needed).

My sideboards are usually 15-30 cards that I am testing in the deck, so when I join these tournaments I have to quickly get rid of half the cards to be legal. Oh the pain.

Also, this is not exactly my favorite deck. As I did when Champions came out, I have created my own deck to play and tweak as the block progresses. And it was that deck, Five-Finger Discount, that is my favorite deck. Those cards just love me.

Magic: The Gathering of my Writings

It is at times like these that I wish blogs were more like message boards. I am going to chain post several pieces of writing that have nothing to do with D&D or roleplaying. They were written over the past few years when I was heavily into Magic the Gathering and Magic Workstation (having graduated from college and started full time work, my leisure time is now scarce).

Most of these are posts I made about my rogue deck creations. One is an article I wrote for Magic-League to explain the Magic rules (rather than just answer the question, which was my main job at M-L while I was a judge). I have spent a lot of time over the past few days rereading these posts and amazing myself with the ... I will say quality of my writing. It has been long enough that these articles read as new to my eyes and I find them entertaining.

These are hack copy & paste jobs from the message boards and so do not reflect any editing, either in format or content, that I would otherwise wish to do.

Monday, September 24, 2007

All the Boys Get the Girls In the Back

Speaking of songs inspiring things, I heard Gwen Stefani's "Hey Baby" today and it inspired the thought of an old (in age) but young (in appearance) sorceress who, for some unknown reason, takes young men into her care and turns them into the perfect lovers. Part of the inspiration is the woman from Sorcerer Hunters who attempted to grow the perfect man using forbidden magic. The rest comes from the song.

She does not consort with her own, though many hold that opinion.

Chad Kroger and Santana are Changelings

Their new song Into the Night is pretty much all it would take for me to play a Fairest Changeling of the Dancer kith. The song rocks all by itself and the lyrics and music (which, I am told, are the constituents of a "song") really inspire such a character for me.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Begone, demon!

I had this thought quite some time ago (soon after I discovered Tenchi Muyo) but it recently recurred to me.

A young man is constantly followed by a demon. In my mind's eye, the boy looks like the kid from Fooly Cooly (originally he looked like Tenchi) and the demon looks like Ryoko. The kid is walking down the street when the demon pops halfway out of a stop sign (like Ryoko's phase through walls ability, except only half the demon is there) and laments about the young man's cold heart and how he is killing her by spurning her shows of affection. He continues to walk down the street and she appears halfway out of various signs, the sidewalk, parked cars, etc until he finally gets so fed up that he hushedly but angrily barks, "Begone, demon!" (he would shout from the top of his lungs but for the attention it would bring; other people are oblivious to the demon's existence but not his). At these words, the demon would burst into tears and disappear back through whatever portal currently bisects her.

Throughout these meetings, the boy comes off as a cold-hearted, uncaring jerk while the demon comes off much like Ryoko when she says "I guess nobody can love a demon". In other words, she seems sincere and sympathetic to the audience in both her love for the young man and her torment at being a demon in love.

I do not know what catalyst brings about the end to the story but it happens as follows: the young man finally acquiesces to her entreaties and just as he touches her, her eyes glow red, a wicked smile plays across her face, her features twist from an attractive young woman to a demonic countenance, and with a flash of movement, she grips the young man by the very soul (utilizing the "transparent look-alike" cartoon ghost effect). A gaping hole of flames and smoke opens at their feet and she plunges into the depths with her treasure in tow. The boy's body falls lifeless to the ground as the chasm seals behind them, leaving only the echo of his tortured screams.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Time and Geography in Discworld

I remember something about "more later" in my last post (but did not reread it prior to typing this new post). So I will share the second and third (pretty much "only other") details of my discworld:

1. Time in discworld is divided into 8 hours, each equal to 3 of our hours (I knew I could type our hours in a sentence one day). Why 8 and not 24 or 12 or some other number that makes sense in sphere land? Because I figure if I were dividing a disc into pieces, I would cut it in halves. A pie chart divided into 12 or 24 pieces would require cuts along radii rather than along diameters. Since a few cuts all the way through are easier than spacing out cuts along the radii, the choice was 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32 hours and 8 seemed like enough without being too much (it also conveniently factors into 24 evenly). Fitting the easy to cut theme, each of the 8 hours are divided into quarters (and thus are 45 minutes) and each of the quarters are themselves divided into squares (which are 11.25 minutes long). Then you have seconds, which are a quarter of a square (the name comes from 1/32's, which is what this would be; they are about 3 minutes long). A second is finally divided into 100 counts (each about 1.7 seconds long). There is rarely any need to tell time accurately beyond hour and quarter. This is a medieval-esque society, not the modern world.

2. There are three views concerning the underside of the disc, keeping in mind that the inhabitants of the disc know their world is flat and that they inhabit the top side of the disc (which is not to say all inhabitants know this; just that it is known to be fact amongst the learned and the few heroic souls who have ventured far enough). The first is that the bottom of the disc is of no concern. As a matter of simplicity, adherents to this view believe the disc is flat earth on the underside and only the top side exhibits the mountains, valleys, forests, and oceans with which they are familiar. In essence, the disc is a one side affair. A small subsection of this school of thought holds that the underside is not exactly barren but entertains such an alien geography that exploration would be useless (or, at the very least, would not be worth overcoming the lack of gravity holding you to the ground; I mean, it is the underside of a disc floating through space, or so they imagine).

The second school of thought holds that the disc is "featured" on both sides. This mountain has brothers on the bottom, this ocean its counterparts. Within this school are those who believe that a mirror image matches up directly with the perceived world (such that a mountain's twin extends downward directly beneath the peak which extends upward) and those who believe that while both sides are filled with mountains and oceans and forests, they are arranged differently (making the bottom of the disc a new world to explore). Adherents of the former view believe excavation at the deepest parts of the earth (ocean bottom, canyon floor, deep valleys, etc) represents the best chance of breaking through to the other side.

The third view holds that the mountains and valleys of the disc are formed from deformations through the disc. This resembles the second school in that there is terrain on the underside but differs in that the mountain on this side is created from a mountain-shaped valley on the underside. Likewise a wide valley on this side is matched by a wide hill on the underside. Under this view, a deep enough cave further extended with mine shafts might break through the layer of the disc into the valley of the underside. Considering the link between geographies, what must this school imagine about plant and animal life below?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Discworld

Not Terry Pratchett's but my own.

While driving to my cousin's house yesterday, the sun was setting and, since my cousin lives west of me, in my eyes. But it gave me an idea for a campaign world:

The world is flat. It is a disc. The "sun" never rises into the sky and sets beyond the horizon but literally rolls through a groove at the edge of the disc in a never-ending circle. There is no true day or night on the disc. When the sun is passing closest to you, it looks like the bright mid-morning sky. When the sun is directly opposite you, it looks like the darkness of dusk. But at all times there is just enough light to not be dark.

More later. I have to go to work.

And through to Faerie

When I first read the previews for the new World of Darkness version of Changeling, I started creating a character in my mind based on the bone-shaper creature I posted earlier. Soon after, I had a vivid dream in which I came across a girl who was emotionally if not physically trapped within a secret club. Throughout the dream, I accomplished amazing feats in an effort to find and free her (the one I remembered most upon waking was wrestling a crocodile).

I decided to use that dream as further inspiration for my character and gave him the overarching goal of returning to Faerie to free a young girl he saw there just prior to or actually during his escape. He does not know why he feels such a drive to rescue her or why such thoughts haunt his dreams (especially given the control changelings are supposed to exhibit over their own dreams)but he has resigned himself to the task. Of course, if he were to share his goal with any of the changelings in his freehold, court, or even motley, he would be considered a dangerously insane individual. Who the hell would even so much as joke about returning to Faerie?

Last night I finished reading about the entitlements and, while none of the existing ones are a good fit for him, the section on creating entitlements gave me an idea. While it would not be something I would aim for in play (unless the Storyteller really liked the idea), it could be cool as an element in my own chronicle:

You only need five like-minded changelings to create an entitlement. My character spent years traveling the world and finding the few sane (or, at least, not entirely insane) changelings who were sympathetic to an eventual return to Faerie. Those of the Summer Court, with their insinuated goal of ultimately bringing the war to the Others' domain, would be obvious targets. The entitlement he founded is publicly known as an order of rangers that pledge to patrol and explore the Hedge. They are advance scouts against the incursions of the True Fae, rescue workers finding and leading newly escaped changelings through the dangers of the Hedge to the freehold, and cartographers constantly mapping and remapping the paths of the Hedge.

All of this is just the public face of the order. While they accomplish the above tasks to the best of their ability, their true aim in mapping and mastering the Hedge (to the extent either can be done) is preparing a way back to Faerie. All within the order are forbidden by pledge from sharing the order's true purpose with anyone outside the order.

The entitlement is known as The Order of Hedge-bound Rangers or the Hedge-bound Order. Its members are referred to as Rangers by those outside the Order and Brother/Sister to those within it.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Tears of Blood

I saw an image in a comic that gave me an idea.

A character with a tattoo or birth mark in the shape of a bleeding cut beneath one eye (i.e. a straight, diagonal slash with one or more lines of dribbling blood).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Cat Characters I Want to Play

1. A cat burglar who only steals things of sentimental value. This came from a bit in which George Carlin talks about how thieves only want your stuff, not your shit like 4th grade essays.

2. An anthopomorphic lol cat. Basically, he speaks and acts like those stupid cat macros. Why? Becuz Im in ur blog, makin ur postz.

Friday, August 24, 2007

DR Redux

I wrote this along with another poster at OYT. It has resided on my EzBoard since before the hack but now, to avoid losing it, I repost it here:

-DR is a means of resisting physical damage. Damage from weapon blows to a creature with DR is always reduced by a certain amount, unless certain criteria are met. The most basic DR is simply presented as a number. For example, DR 10. If no other factors are given, then simply subtract the number from any weapon damage the creature takes. For example, a creature with DR 10 struck by a longsword for 13 damage would only actually take 3 damage. No DR can reduce an instance of damage below 0. -Magic weapons can overcome DR. Each +1 of the weapon's enhancement bonus allows it to ingore up to 5 points of DR. So if the longsword in our previous example had been a +2 longsowrd, the creature would have taken the full 13 damage. If it was a +1 longsword, then the creature would have taken, 8 damage.-Some creatures have even stronger DR, and the effectiveness of magic weapons against them is reduced. For some creatures, such as Lycanthropes, Fey, strongly-aligned Outsiders, etc. This represents an even greater resistance to earthly or mundane materials. For some creatures, such as golems, it represents object-like hardness. A few creatures are vulnerable only to a particular type of weapon damage, such as slashing of bludgeoning. Lastly, some DR is unbeatable (the number is usually low), and represents extreme physical hardiness and conditioning.-If a creature's DR has a listed material, then the efficacy of magical weapons is halved, unless the weapon is made from the proper material. For example, a Satyr has DR 5/cold iron. This means that it takes a +2 weapon to get past his 5 points of DR, or a +1 cold iron weapon. Adamantine always requires a +2 enhancement bonus to penetrate each 5 points of DR, and DR X/- is not overcomable by any weapons, magic or mundane.-Outsiders with two alignment subtypes have two weaknesses in their DR, one for each of their alignment leanings. For example, a Trumpet Archon has the [lawful] and the [good] subtypes, and is thus equally vulnerable to silvered weapons and weapons made from volcanic lead. It's DR 15/ silver or volcanic lead would be beaten completely by a +3 silvered greatsword or by a +3 volcanic lead greatswrod.-Creatures that have a damage type listed after the slash have a special resistance to other types of weapon damage. For example, skeletons have DR 5/bludgeoning, because they are not greatly affected by being stabbed or cut. If the DR shows only a weapon type, as per the skeleton example, no magic is required to penetrate their DR. Any bludgeoning weapon will overcome it. However, you still may overcome 5 points of DR per +2 of enhancement bonus if your weapon is not of the appropriate type.-Some few cretures may have DR that is extremely difficult to beat because they combine effects. For example, a Rakshasa has DR 15/britghtsteel and peircing. Without a piercing, brightsteel weapon, you need +2 of weapon enhancement to overcome 5 points of the Rakshasa's DR; a weapon that simply doees piercing damage or one that is made of brightsteel will not do. A +3 brightsteel spear will beat his DR entirely.-Brightsteel is a special material that is deposited only in places where one or more of the elemental planes come together. As such it is elementally conductive, and anyone carrying or using a brightsteel weapon suffers a -1 to saves against any spell or effect that has an elemental (earth, fire, air, water) desciptor. Brightsteel has the unusal alchemical property of defeating the DR of some evil creatures.-Volcanic lead is a lead crystal that has been deposited n many, many layers, all folded onto each other to create a special crystaline lattice that happens to defeat the DR of some good outsiders. Unfortunately, it is extremely heavy, weighing 5 times as much as comparable steel weapons. This weight imposes a -1 penalty on all attack rolls made with such weapons.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Bone-Shaper's Beast

I have Changeling: The Lost and, obviously, I am working on a character as I read it.

Based on the preview material I read, I decided my character would be a beast. Which particular kind of beast I will decide when I reach that part of the book. What I know right now is that he was captured by one of the bone-shapers detailed in my previous post and used as a sort of hunting dog to track down, subdue, and bring back prey for his master. When he damaged his quarry's bones (teeth marks or breaks), his master beat him severely (likely with a bone club made from a femur). When he performed well and his master's mood was amiable, he was rewarded with one of the castoffs of his master's craft (bones he had shaped but did not like the end result).

He was married before ending up in Faerie, with one very young child. His wife is married now, whether to someone new or a dummy of her husband I have not decided (if someone new, it is because my character destroyed his replacement and "killed" himself for good in their eyes).

His other hook is that he saw a girl in Faerie, either during his durance or his escape, and wants to free her. He does not know her personally and she is not the only human he saw in Faerie, but for some reason she haunts his dreams and he is driven subconsciously to help her. At times he fears his hesitation spells her doom. At other times, he fears she is a trap to recover him.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Bone Shaper

This is a monster idea that popped into my head the other day.

The creature is likely some sort of faerie or undead. It is tall and lanky with some disfigurement to the face (I see a face without eyes and a mouth full of sharp, needlelike teeth similar to the monster in Pan's Labyrinth). The creature is preternaturally fast and strong, possessed of more grace and strength than one would expect given the gangly, slim frame. One it gets ahold of you, the creature grips a limb or your face very tightly, running its thumb or fingertips into your flesh (no actual penetration). Beneath, hidden away from sight, impressions begin to form on your very bones. The rubbing causes the bone to edge out of the way like hard clay being worked. Eventually, the creature can rub through the bone (effectively breaking it) and they collect bones and skulls to adorn their homes, each formed into something it's not.

Edit: Right after posting the above, I shared the idea in the OYT chat room and received these ideas:

#contraserrene:: Eldric, I like that idea. Creepy without being actively gory.
#Baquies:: Sounds like something from world of darkness
#contraserrene:: I imagine them, especially if they're the less nice kind of fey, deciding that they LIKE you.
#contraserrene:: So they give you a present.
#contraserrene:: Made from you.#contraserrene:: "Here, a mask to cover that all-too-human face! Its features are delicate, sharp, like our own!"
#contraserrene:: "We made it from your left hand! So you'll need to use your right to hold the mask to your face!"
#Baquies:: never enough evil fey in my opinion
Eldric IV:: My pooka was Unseelie. Does that count?
#contraserrene:: "Whoops, the mask is a little too narrow to conceal your whole face. Your cheekbones are too wide."
#contraserrene:: "Luckily, we can remove them."
DerekDyer:: Candles are the best during a scary movie
#Baquies:: YOu could make teh creature like the tooth fairy's older brother, he takes a femur and leaves you a few copper
#contraserrene:: The Marrow Fairy.
DerekDyer:: cause they make things dance on the walls all around
#contraserrene:: Marroefey.
#contraserrene:: No.
#contraserrene:: Marrowtouchers.
#contraserrene:: No.
Eldric IV:: Feymur?
#Baquies:: I ran castle raveloft during a power outage, that was kinda fun
#contraserrene:: Looking for a word implying "delicate touch."
#contraserrene:: Marrowbrush.
#contraserrene:: No.
Eldric IV:: Caress? Stroke?
#contraserrene:: Marrowdainty!
#contraserrene:: That could be the name of one of these fey.
Eldric IV:: Funnyhone.
#contraserrene:: The species might be called... exquisitists. Or that could be their name for their artistic practicioners.
#Baquies:: They start with the small bones and visit you every few nights to take anotehr, first the tip of a toe or finger, then a knee cap. and so on. the party must set a trap
Eldric IV:: Straight fingers, arms, and legs are just too boring. You must look beautiful.
#contraserrene:: What better bait for the trap than a cold iron pot, propped open by a stick on a string, baited with the bones from that night's main course at dinner?
#contraserrene:: They love the Golden Ratio.
#contraserrene:: So they want your extremities to have a "more pleasing" rest state matching the spiral of a nautilus.
#Baquies:: OK, they come in at night and reforge re shape a certain bone every few days, you slowly acrue Dex and Con and skill penalties
Eldric IV:: And your own personal crown protruding from your forehead.
#Baquies:: If you go to the lair of these things, they are filled with mishapen hoards of victims and mounted skeletons of the deceased.
#contraserrene:: They can sense with a touch whether a bone has been reshaped before. They consider Cure spells that knit sprained and broken bones to be especially crude "reshaping."
#contraserrene:: Bones that have been "sullied" in such a way are considered useless.
#contraserrene:: Worthless.
#contraserrene:: Of low quality.
#Baquies:: Yeah, if you cure of fix theri work, they take the bone next time
#contraserrene:: Their economy, such as it is, would involve trade in bones that have never been altered by anyone before.
Eldric IV:: Bones whether or not yet emancipated from their current owner.
#contraserrene:: Of course, in a fey society, people won't respect the property rights of their peers...
#contraserrene:: Thus, there's a constant need for new captives.
Eldric IV:: I imagine children would be an easy way to store your "money."
#contraserrene:: The good news is, they let you go after a month or two.
#contraserrene:: The bad news is, they let you go after a month or two.
#contraserrene:: These boneshapers would consider animated skeletons a mockery of everything they hold dear; they would craft weapons specially designed to destroy skeletons, liches, etc.
#contraserrene:: They consider bone golems to be a lesser affront, but still an affront.
Eldric IV:: They can themselves wade through a skeleton with their bare hands.
#contraserrene:: Osseries, on the other hand, are a grand thing.
#contraserrene:: "Look, these shortlived people have set out a market for us."
#contraserrene:: They steal the bones from an ossory- the ones that were never magically healed, that is- and leave behind payment.
#contraserrene:: If you're lucky, the fairies that stole your ancestors' bones left you some gold, gems or magic.
#contraserrene:: Unfortunately they don't prize such things so much. They'll leave you something more personal.
#contraserrene:: Never, ever, ever express a wish in their presence that they could "grant" for you.
#contraserrene:: "But you said you wished you could fly! Now you have wings. Sort of. You can flap them and make a wind, so it feels a little like flying. The constant agony is just a sign that you're still alive; you should welcome it!"
Eldric IV:: I suppose one or more of them could go a bit "unusual" in the head and start grafting other bones onto/into people.
#contraserrene:: They might see that the way the Amish see teenaged wandering.
#contraserrene:: A phase everyone goes through before settling down to a more "mature" lifestyle as a bone-alterer.
#Baquies:: It starts with collecting old teeth and just goes bad from there
DerekDyer:: not bad

Thursday, August 16, 2007

80s Adventure RPG

Eldric IV as Rainbow Brite
Confused Jackal Mage as Space Ghost
Robert Ranting as Grimlock (Transformers)
Basquies as a Televiper (GI Joe)
CuDraoi as Donatello (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
The Evil Infant as Panthro (Thundercats)
Lord Nightbringer as Char Aznable (Gundam)
DerekDyer as Zok (Herculoids)
Siobharek as Skeletor (He-Man)
Bofdm as Cobra Commander (GI Joe)

Two More Terrible Tortures

Gleaned from real life:

1 - The Pear of Anguish. This was an iron, pear-shaped gag that was shoved into the victim's mouth. The end of the pear nearest the teeth had a keyhold that, when the key was inserted and turned, caused spring mechanisms within the pear to eject a number of iron spikes into the mouth. These spikes remained extended until the key was turned past the insertion point in the opposite direction (allowing the key to be removed without deactivating the torture). Use as anal or vaginal torture is easily imagined.

2 - Mancuerda. Cord was wound tightly around the victim's arm and then quickly pulled taught, forcing the cord to cut through the flesh and muscle right to the bone. This was repeated at several locations along the arm and produced extensive bleeding, often resulting in unconsciousness or death.

The Four Winds

This torture/execution device comes directly from Thundercats. The mutants used it when they captured Tigra but he got away before it went off.

The Four Winds is shaped like a giant X. Along each arm one of the victim's limbs is stretched and secured with leather straps and iron bars. When activated, the gears beneath the main body of the X cause the limbs to stretch away from the torso like four small versions of the Rack. Then, when the victim believes his arms and legs can stretch no further and must be ready to rip from his body, the catapults along each arm activate. These catapults have their head at the junction of the X and their fulcra at the ends of each arm and they thus swing up from the torso and tear the victim's limbs from his body. Whether this tearing is purely the result of the mechanical force of the gears on the metal arms or if the arms are also bladed is up to the individual designer. Regardless, the result is a painful death and a terrible mess.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Lamentations of Procrastination due to Apparitions of Inferiority

In other words, I have put off writing a piece on the Asp's Lair for Delver's Square for 6-8 months now (if not more) because I do not feel I can write it well enough for public display. I also have long-standing promises for articles on the Faces of Fear that have not yet come to fruition for the same reason, although this time it is solely on the mechanical side. I run my villains free-form, without a full write-up of abilities because I want them to do whatever is necessary to create an exciting, challenging, and memorable battle. Did the PCs get in a few lucky hits early on (such as my cousin's barbarian striking a critical hit against Regiarix the black dragon)? Then the villain has a few more hit points or a slightly higher AC to make the battle last longer. The name of the game is fun and my villains exist for that purpose, unconstrained by a stat block to tell me or anyone else otherwise.

And so, in trying to create the Faces of Fear for D2, I find myself faced with the dilemma of creating stat blocks. Why? Because if I put myself in another person's shoes, I want to see a ready-to-use set of mechanics when I spend my time reading this article. I do not want to see a bunch of interesting ideas for a villain and then find myself faced with the prospect of putting together a character sheet in order to use them in my game. The author should be doing that work since it is his creation. And, I have an inkling that an article like The Asp, which is all flavor and no crunch, found little use in anyone's game.

Regardless, I have been working on another entry in Saren's Journal about Free Will (these take a long time because I want the writing to be consistent both in style and in logic while presenting the horrible philosophy to which she adheres; in other words, they should read as though written by the same person and they should read as though the weak-willed undecideds and the fellow adherents should believe them because of the arguments presented instead of by DM fiat). These articles are actually my favorite to write because when I tap into the character of Saren, I end up spilling words across the page as fast as I possibly can and still cannot channel everything from my mind to the paper. I really feel the writing captures her passion for the subject and the instances of disjoined sentences and trains of thought due to my hands being slower than my mind stand in for her madness as a priestess of the Galchutt.

My only fears with the individual write-ups for the Faces of Fear is that I do not capture the interest of the characters as characters. I have long been known for writing in an epic style, which entails the pitfalls of flat characters playing out their parts in the grand story. Because of that, the Faces seem little more than grotesqueries meant to turn the stomach and be "Evil" for evil's sake. I tried to get away from that a little with Warrick in his mad love for Saren and in Saren with her troubled history of abuse. However, I do not want her to be a sympathetic character. She is not evil because of circumstances forcing her down this path; rather, the circumstances of her youth showed her the path and she deliberately walked it. She knows that she consciously and willfully chose evil when she could have chosen good. Perhaps this has weighed on her mind and added to her madness. If she feels any remorse for what she has done, she views it as a weakness, a feeling that needs to be attacked with faith and reason until it dissolves or, failing that, crushed and bound and buried deep in the back of her mind.

The only characters who I feel are not too fleshed out are the two that the party would most likely encounter first. Garrett and his goblin pal are cruel, bloodthirsty creatures who delight in suffering and bloodshed. This is why Garrett used the goblin as a sheath and why, when the shock wore off, he changed over to a little girl. The goblin is a true sado-masochist; he enjoyed his mistreatment under Garrett and even now almost deliberately upsets him in order to provoke a beating. On the sadistic side, the goblin is literally a walking bomb covered in all manner of weaponry. Garrett is a murderer and sword-for-hire, his greed satiated by the latter even as he does the former. His only reason in joining the Faces is an epiphany by the Galchutt leading him into their den. The goblin simply follows his dominator and may even be more faithful to the Faces than him (as he perceives his master being faithful and wishes to do the same).

I will have more later.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Rainbow Brite - Superhero

I forget exactly how I got back into Rainbow Brite specifically but I know it involved a conversation about the Transformers movie in the OYT chat room evolving to include GI Joe and other early 80's cartoon shows. Being the guy that I am, I immersed myself in Rainbow Brite for a day and started bringing up the show and character whenever possible in the chat room. Since a lot of the chat room sessions are devoted to NB's new game system and CJM's pimping of the Mutants & Masterminds system, I eventually decided to make a Rainbow Brite character (using M&M only because NB's system is a work in progress).

The character is extremely basic right now. My Rainbow Brite borrows heavily from the show but has a few differences. He is a guy named Brian (after the boy in the cartoon) instead of a toddler-esque girl named Wisp (although Wisp, which is Rainbow Brite's original name, makes a cameo as his girlfriend, which is important as we will now see). Despite all the rainbow imagery he is NOT gay. He has a girlfriend but for the most part I want to play him as asexual (i.e. I do not want his sexual orientation to come up at all; the better to avoid the other players making gay jokes).

He utilizes the M&M powers of Color Control (his prime forte), Emotion Control (Rainbow Brite made things colorful to make people happy and feel good), and a bit of Telekinesis or Flight or Entanglement (Rainbow Brite's rainbows allow Starlight to fly and are often used to wrap up bad guys or grab things).

Starlite makes an appearance as himself, except his name will be Starlight. He is a talking horse with a very high opinion of himself (regularly referring to himself as The Most Magnificent Horse in the Universe) and the ability to run atop rainbows, allowing for a limited form of flight when ridden by Rainbow Brite.

Twink will not be making a regular appearance for two reasons. One, I plan for Rainbow Brite to get his own star sprinkles (or have them delivered by an unnamed sprite every once in a while; just an issue of continuity rather than a plot point to get kidnapped) and two, the name Twink is just asking for gay jokes.

My Rainbow Brite always carries a bag of Skittles. They are his favorite snack and the manner in which he mundanely conceals his magical star sprinkles from others. He has adopted the Skittles catchphrase as his own (possible while using a rainbow to telekinetically punch a bad guy): Taste the Rainbow!

My Rainbow Brite is seen as semi-delusional because he believes in the Color Kids and their transdimensional, otherworldly home of Rainbowland where color crystals are mined by sprites and refined into star sprinkles which are then distributed to the Rainbow Brite on each inhabited world in the universe (he is Earth's Rainbow Brite and this is the excuse he uses for having Rainbow Brite as a name - all of them are called that) to utilize in spreading color and happiness. There is even mention of a previous Rainbow Brite in the Bible (Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors). Whether all this is true or not is entirely up to the DM. If it is true, then Rainbow Brite has a magic key that, when placed into any lock, opens a doorway to Rainbowland.

Appearance wise, Rainbow Brite appears as Brian did in the cartoon. He looks and dresses like a normal guy but is completely swathed by a rainbow color scheme. The top right of his head is red and the bottom left of his foot is violet with each color in its place between them. Using his color control power he can appear like a normal human with insignificant effort (he is a normal human, not an alien).

He also uses the color belt and rainbow sphere. He says they were given to him by the color kids in order to make him into Rainbow Brite. The belt can be used to generate semi-solid rainbows (for Starlight to run on or to wrap up bad guys) while the sphere allows him to colorize and brighten the world. Either one requires a star sprinkle to work.

Dhezhan - Field of Daggers

This deadly environment resulted from the convalescence of two long-lingering magical auras that hung over the land since Dhezha's fall.

From a distance, the Field of Daggers looks like a large stretch of barren, rocky terrain broken by thousands of jagged shards. These shards range in size from one foot to 10 or more feet tall but are spaced quite generously. Those who learn the field's name apart from its secret often assume that these are the Daggers. However, the daggers are only seen once one steps foot into the field proper. Then, ever step is met by dozens of daggers thrusting up from the ground underneath one's feet. These daggers pierce with every step and prove lethal to all but the quickest and most dexterous intruder. As a result, the perimeter of the Field of Daggers is often littered with bones, the carcasses picked clean by scavengers who know the danger of the fields.

In reality, the daggers are shards of rock that jut from the ground as with a spike stones spell. The second magical effect is a lingering aura of illusory magic that causes the stones to appear as daggers constantly thrusting from the stone. This illusion has no effect other than the change in appearance and is meant to accomplish nothing beyond the simple pinch of added flavor from magical daggers stabbing your feet instead of spiked shards of rock.

Grune the Destroyer

This idea came about while watching the Thundercats episode The Ghost Warrior about Grune the Destroyer. Grune was a former Thundercat who was banished to Third Earth after betraying Jaga. He wreaked terrible havoc on that planet until his death, after which he was magically sealed within a tomb.

In the episode, a pair of gnomish creatures happen upon the tomb and violate the magic seal, freeing Grune. While inside the tomb, they notice it is filled with nothing but broken weapons. In particular, you can see two or more broken morningstars (Grune's favored weapon) atop the stone slab that seals his final resting place.

The idea this sparked was thus: a champion or avatar of the god of war and battle is unstoppable in combat but he can be warded off by broken weapons (perhaps an old symbol of a god of peace, his philosophical opposite). This ward is not foolproof and it requires real sacrifice. For example, if the PCs came face to face with the champion and threw broken arrows across the hallway while still wielding magic longswords, maces, and rapiers, the champion will take little pause in proceeding (though a merchant encampment surrounded by broken weaponry may well remain safe). If the champion were to be raised from the dead as was Grune, then the original method of his defeat was the sundering of his weapon in battle (the champion himself having never known defeat by force of arms). If the champion were a new development, then the discovery of his weakness to broken weaponry could lead thoughtful players to the conclusion that sundering his weapons would further weaken, if not outright defeat, him.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dhezhan's Oldest (Un)Living Resident

In the pyramid that stands in the midst of the Stardust Desert lives the oldest being known to all of creation. Although he reached his personal zenith of power during the height of the Dhezhan empire, this creature has existed far longer than any mortal creature; perhaps he has even existed since the beginning of the world, though even he can no longer recall his earliest years in the wake of the Dhezhan brightness.

This creature is a rip-off of Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living from Thundercats. His existence is primordial and axiomatic, though his power and influence wax and wane throughout the millenia. Even at a time when his power wanes to the point of isolated confinement within his exotic tomb, this being enjoys almost unparalleled ability in the magical arts.

I need to find some questions to answer about him in order to flesh him out sufficiently. Suffice to say that this is no mere lich or mummy but a nigh-deific power.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Quick Notes on the Faces of Fear

Goblin Kill-Suit - Equivalent to armor spikes; mounted beneath the skin so they burst through and protrude from the body.


Lying and bribing to convert despite elevating free will choice as supreme - Believes that such deception and manipulation are justified to counteract the same practices by the present order. Not a case of hypocrisy because her efforts lead to ultimate truth instead of illusion. "You must never forget that you have been blinded to the glory of our hidden Lords by the present order. If I have deceived you, it is only with respect to its prior deception. I have lied against a lie in order to bring the truth before your eyes. I see your soul writhe with hunger for truth and reality but it lies confined amidst the webs of the present order's deception, unable to free itself. Composed as they are to keep the truth away, the only weapon with which I am left is deceit. You fight fire with fire. What I have said and what I have done are the knife with which I cut you free from your bonds. I have afforded you the liberty to make your own choice, where before you had none. Standing now free, you can choose of your own will to follow what is true, what is right, and what is real."

Monday, July 2, 2007

Red Hand of Doom Intro

I am running Red Hand of Doom for my gaming group. One of the players will leave on vacation two weeks into the game but the other three should remain and a replacement might be available in an old member of the group (who was on vacation when we started).

Red Hand of Doom is a module for characters of 5th through 10th. The party takes on an advancing army of hobgoblins and monsters, attempting to stop them from overrunning the Elsir Vale. Due to the unique structure of the adventure (event-based, strict timeline, taking on an army, etc), each encounter is typically the only encounter for that day. This means that each encounter is purposely more difficult and deadly than the D&D norm. My players were warned.

I will add particularly interesting or memorable happenings from around the table here. The game is now two weeks old and while they have accomplished much, the party has a long road ahead of them (we are still only halfway through chapter 1 of 5).

The party created was thus:

Tik-Tik the thri-kreen lion-totem (pounce) barbarian 1 (ECL 5) who dual-wields greatswords. His pride and joy are his twin magic swords, one outfitted with a lesser crystal of acid assault (+1d6 acid damage), and his sole goal in life is to wield two KEEN greatswords of acidic burst. (Tik-Tik is known in the group as Bug and his player spends most of his time clicking together metal dice to make his trademark tik-tik sound.)

Lira Hellsong the human warlock 5. Specializing in her eldritch blast power and occasionally summoning an infernal swarm of rats, bats, or spiders, Lira spreads her brand of at will destruction liberally around the battlefield. She is also the party face. (Lira is known in the group as Whorelock because she wants to sleep with every female NPC. Her player is a dirty, stinking Frenchman wannabe.)

Justice the human (previously warforged) cleric 5 of the Sacred Heat. Devoting himself to both the healing and harming aspects of flame, Justice alternates between healing his comrades and cutting down his foes with his own greatsword. (Justice is known in the group as "cleric" and Pinnochio because he used to be a warforged but now he's a real boy. His player is pissed that he never has enough actions and healing spells to keep the party from getting TPKed all the freakin' time.)

Lokey the elf druid 5. Lokey has two joys in life - summoning 6' wide balls of fire to slam into his enemies and calling down bolts of lightning to fry those selfsame enemies. He is particularly good at both but should they fail to take the field he morphs into a wolf or crocodile and takes matters a little more personally. Accompanied by his vigilant hawk companion, the recent troubles in the vale have led Lokey to consider a more robust companion. (Lokey is known in the group as the Colonel and his hawk is known as KFC and Combo Meal #2. Lokey's player is the newest to D&D but he seems to handle his character a little more competently than everyone else ... except when he forgets every single round that an attack, skill check, and initiative roll always use a d20.)


The group had spent the last few weeks trekking through the Elsir Vale towards the small town of Drellin's Ferry. From there, they could strike out into the Witchwood and explore the ruins of Vraath Keep mentioned on the old map they had found. Prior to reaching the dusty little town, they found themselves surrounded in an ambush. Hobgoblin archers pelted them from the trees and a pair of hellhounds closed in for the kill as a cleric and blademaster appeared on the road before them. The party burst into action, Tik-Tik charging through the undergrowth to engage the well-trained and equipped regulars while Lira and Lokey used their spells to attack from afar. Justice had his hands full keeping the party alive as waves of arrows began to take their toll.

The Blademaster called out an eagerly met challenge to Tik-Tik and the two faced off in battle. Tik-Tik cleaved into the dual-shortsword wielding hobgoblin for 30 damage but the warrior took the blows in stride and struck back with a single strike for 10 (wowed the party because he only rolled a 4). Tik-Tik managed to finish him off the next round. On seeing his champion fall, the hob cleric commanded the bug to flee, drawing attacks of opportunity from the surrounding hobgoblin regulars.

The two hellhounds had managed to drop Lokey and almost drop the warlock and her horse before Justice and Lira could put them down. Justice managed to get the trio back on their feet and fighting fit by the next wave.

Around this time, the initial ambushers were almost all dead with the exception of the advancing cleric and his reinforcements coming from up the road (6 more gobbo regulars). The cleric blessed his warriors for the coming charge and stood ready to enhance the attack further with cure spells and buffs. Two of the warriors were picked off by the druid's call lightning spell and the warlock's eldritch blast, leaving four hobgoblin infantry to charge the bug. They attempted en masse to trip the creature but failed by 1 (19 to 20). The bug proceeded to open a can of sweet hot asskicking, felling two goblins while Lira and Lokey's spells finished off the last two. In the span of one round's time, the cleric watched the party fell 6 regular infantry. That seemed like a good cue to run the hell away. He cast invisibility (yay Trickery domain) and attempted to make off. Lokey would hear nothing of that. He wild shaped into a wolf and tracked the cleric in real time by scent with Tik-Tik at his side to finish the job.

The group looted the corpses and retired to an abandoned farmhouse for the night to rest and play Three-Dragon Ante.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Camp Cleric

This is an idea stolen from Eric of Ptolus's Banewarrens game (though I am certain its origins lie much closer to the birth of D&D than that).

The camp cleric and fighter are a pair of NPC hirelings employed by the PCs to set-up camp, tend to the horses (or more exotic mounts), provide minor healing and spellcasting, stand guard, and run errands while the PCs explore the dungeon. They are of a level low enough to be outclassed if accompanying the party (so as to dissuade such accompaniment) but high enough to provide some benefit and withstand the expected rigors of the environment just outside the dungeon (or on a higher, and thus safer, level of the dungeon). In the abovementioned Banewarrens game, the party was level 6 while the brother and sister fighter and cleric duo were level 2. This means that a level appropriate encounter for the party (EL 6), one that would expend about 20% of the party's resources, would be overpoweringly difficult for an entire party of adventurers the same level as the hirelings (TPK).

Monday, June 11, 2007

Flaming, Freakin' Hell

Inspired by this image:

http://www.wizards.com/magic/images/cardart/TSP/Ignite_Memories.jpg

A man is terrorized by literal demons of hell. The observer of the scene could be his family, helplessly watching, or a passerby, related (by association or blood) or not, for some reason traversing the fiery realm (think Dante, but this is another type of hell, where those punished are not necessarily deserving of their torment - Dante at one point increased the suffering of a soul confined there and was praised for it).

The man is forced to his knees, his arms bound behind him or held out in the fashion of a cross (be it by small, gremlin-like demons or an obvious show of unseen power by the main tormentor - demon jedi mind trick).

Next to the man is a smoking brazier filled with burning coals. A large demon, standing 7 or more feet tall, with flaming red skin, black horns, bulging muscles, large fangs, and glowing, malevolent eyes stokes the coals, throwing a shower of embers into the air. The demon produces a wicked iron mask, the inside surface studded with half-inch long needles of iron, and pulls a length of red hot barbed wire from the bed of coals. He places the mask against the man's face and lashes it tight, winding the burning wire around his head several times. The man screams in agony. His body thrashes against the ground, eyes wide through the holes in the mask, but he is unable to resist. Smoke rises from the wire as it slowly cools against the blood dripping and running from the base of the mask.

The demon then grasps the man's neck in one massive, black-clawed hand and shoves his face into the coals. The screams pierce the air and the man violently shudders and spasms in vain against the awesome might of his captor as the mask glows ever brighter with the heat. With its other hand, the demon raises a dark chalice and, with an unholy supplication, pours the liquid across the back of the man's head. Instantly, the liquid bursts into flame and the demon releases his grasp. The man springs back from the brazier, rolling across the ground screaming, but no relief is to be found. His head is in flames as the scene fades to black.

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Man that would suck. This is exactly the reason I like paladins. They exist specifically to defend against and defeat that kind of inhuman evil.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Blame it on Incompetent Corporate Monkeys

The reason I have not posted in the past few weeks is simple: I was fired from my job about then. Of course it was a wrongful termination and they are kissing my big fat butt until I get back to work tomorrow to avoid a lawsuit.

No work means no creativity (I work best (read: only) when I have a job and school taking up my time; go figure).

Ice Rocks Make Great Pets

Finally, I am still working on the Iron Heroes in Asgard adventure. Since I want it to be very memorable, I am taking my time and stealing only the best ideas.

What did I steal to prompt this post? The rock boss from Metroid Prime. You encounter it in the Phendrana Drifts right before you get the Spider Ball enhancement. I have not thought about stats yet (the Metroid boss has weak points that can only be seen with the infrared visor and, once breached with the charge beam, are destroyed with missile blasts) but obviously the thing is going to be big, strong, and tough as giant boulders of ice. I look forward to seeing what players think up when confronted with a disjoined series of floating boulders of ice orbiting an unseen, perhaps inconsequential point (i.e. no nexus of energy or brain or other vulnerable centralized command point in the midst of it all; it is just a point in space the rocks spin around).

Storms of razor ice and thrown boulders are obvious attacks, as are a pair of devastatingly powerful slam attacks (one of the rocks making up the creature's arm flies out and crashes into the victim or crushes him against the wall or the ground).

This makes me wish I had nicely painted miniatures.