Thursday, November 28, 2013

Enjoy Your Turkey Day!

I'm spending the day with family (or in Ankara, whichever is more likely).

Have a happy Turkey day! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

[Resources] The Tyranny of Distance


The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australian History (1966) by Geoffry Blainey, explored how the vast distance between Great Britain and Australia shaped Australia's past, present and future, and cultural identity and attitudes.

When I first heard of this book a few years ago, I immediately became interested. However, my local library does not have this book available so I'll have see if I can get it from inter-library loan.

The book has piqued my interested because many science fiction stories posit a vast, star-spanning empire that has FTL ships and huge navies to protect it's colonies, very similar to the wooden ships of England's Royal Navy. Yet many of these stories also posit an ever-present enforcement when the sheer vastness of space requires the empire's ships to traverse these great distances to these far-flung colonies. It's no surprise that many stories explore issues related to rebellion and unrest.

A favorite set of novels of mine is the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. I think that these books do a good job of dealing with the distances by expressing them in "time-debt." Sure, the books have jump gates (or the equivalent) but even with them, distances take months and even years to travel, creating a relativistic time-debt.

I used to think that Traveller's Jump 1 spaceships were annoying, jumping one hex at a time, travelling for a week to get to each location, refuel there then do it again, from system to system. But it should have been a bit more than that, more far flung.

It's something to think about when, instead of getting there days later, you get there years and decades later. What changes will occur while your gone, in both your origin and in your destination?

After all, space travel is not simply driving down the street to the store a half-mile away to get milk........

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

[Resources] Copyright


I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. But I write stuff. 

And sometimes that stuff is really good, so I have found it necessary to protect my work. If you feel the same, so should you.

A few years ago I found this very simple website called The Copyright Authority

It's got a brief flowchart on copyright and some links to music copyright and choosing a lawyer.

Another resource is the Creative Commons website. It allows you to choose what you want to do with your art, whether to share it freely or to clamp down on what others can use it for.

For Asshat Paladins, I've chosen the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, which requires anyone who uses my content to attribute me as the original author (Attribution), disallows using my content for financial gain (Non Commercial) and requires they use the same license (Share Alike).

While it may only be as good as I can afford to defend it, it's at least a start. At least until the copyright zombie apocalypse!

Monday, November 25, 2013

[Resources] Fourth Street Live!


Fourth Street Live! is a "350,000-square-foot entertainment and retail complex" located in Louisville, Kentucky. I've never been there but I listened to the old Rolemonkey's podcast and they mentioned it quite a bit in several games (one a supers game and another in passing for a Changeling: The Dreaming game).

It opened in 2004 in an effort to revitalize a previous mall (which opened in the 80s as a revitalization of an older mall). Quite frankly, you can learn more about it from other websites, including wikipedia.

So it doesn't matter that it's in Kentucky and that I've never been there. What matters is that malls are great places for adventure, even malls you've never visited. Malls are all over the United States and some are really neat looking while many are not very cool, holdouts from earlier architectural eras.

But the possibilities of malls are great: from a place to loot during a zombie game to a place to fight in a supers game to places to hang out in a high school teen comedy game, the mall has it all (and a food court for eating that Shawarma after the fight.

While fully operational malls are great for games, let's not forget that some malls are not very successful and spend years languishing in obscurity. A website called DeadMalls.com has many of these malls listed by state with some historical information that may be helpful to your games.

Whether alive or dead, malls are excellent places to explore.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

[Resources] Glossary of Fun


Words are great. I love learning new words and learning what they mean.

I found A Glossary of Fun online a few years ago on the old Amagi Games site (here's the new one, where it's called The Manyfold Glossary).

Two of my favorite are:

"FIERO is the feeling of TRIUMPH, of winning, of defeating a challenge, or overcoming adversity. People looking for that feeling are on the lookout for adversity – and they tend to want adversity where they can be partisan for their characters and the GM is actually playing against them a bit. If it's not a real challenge, with real dangers, then there's no payoff for a fiero-chaser. If you've ever died again, and again, in a computer game, and then finally manage to succeed, and felt a rush where you could stand on your chair and scream? That's fiero."

and

"NACHES is the enjoyment of seeing someone that you have taught, or are responsible for, go on to do well with that knowledge. If there's a player at your table who is always happy to teach the others about how things work, chances are they like their naches. Many GMs, unsurprisingly, get a lot of good naches and enjoy it. Some players can get this same kind of enjoyment from seeing a student or smaller ally of their character do well."

Read through them and see which are your favorite.

Perhaps you'll learn something about your gaming style, too.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

[Resources] Magic Words


Everyone knows a few magic words, the most common of which is probably Abracadabra. Wikipedia has a list of some of the greatest and worst.

They range from Persian words like Ajji Majji la Tarajji and staples of stage magicians like Hocus Pocus and Jantar Mantar Jadu Mantar. Don't recognize that last one? That's popular in India.

There are also a bunch of silly ones like Bippity, Boppity, Boo (from Disney's Cinderella's Fairy Godmother) to the Amazing Mumford's Alla Peanut Butter Sandwiches.

Whatever the magic words used, whether it was Walla Walla Washington or Sim Sim Sala Bim, all the nonsense phrases had some sort of effect, if only to make us laugh.

I'm sure you can find more magic words than those listed on Wikipedia. Perhaps you'll find some that would work great in your game.



Friday, November 22, 2013

[Resources] Twilight 2000 Wiki NPCs


As a fan of post-apocalyptic gaming, Twilight 2000 was one of my defining RPGs in the early 1980s. I played 1st edition for years and used the system for other post-apoxy games, like The Morrow Project. I avoided 2nd edition, mainly because I didn't like the system.

One of my favorite parts of running T2K was the NPC motivation system, a simple way to develop NPCs using a deck of cards. This was a very cool feature, one that I've mentioned before on this blog. Each suit focuses on a different core issue: violence (Clubs), Wealth (Diamonds), Fellowship (Hearts) and Power (Spades). The value of the card determines the strength of the motivation: 2-4 (low), 5-7 (medium) and 8-10 (high), with the face cards and Aces as special cards. For example, Clubs range from Murderer (Jack) to Stubborn to Brute to War Leader (Ace).

I recently found a Twilight 2000 Wiki with a list of 35 NPCs. Many of the NPCs include these simple card motivations and that makes them useful for any modern game.

Check out the wiki and the NPCs. They might prove useful for your game.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

[Resources} Baiji


The Baiji, nicknamed the Goddess of the Yangtze, is a critically endangered freshwater dolphin native to the Yangtze River in China. Considered by some biologists as functionally extinct, the last captive Baiji died in 2002 and the last reported sighting was 2007.

The Baiji declined due to pollution, over-hunting and collisions with ships, among other factors. Baiji fossils that have been found have been dated to 25 million years ago and have been traced to the Yangtze 20 million years ago.

The Baiji is linked to an ancient Chinese story about a princess who was drowned for refusing to go through with a loveless marriage. She was reborn as a Baiji and is a symbol of prosperity and peace.

The Baiji would be an excellent addition to an Imperial Chinese game, either as a source of a quest or a transformed court poet in need of rescue.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

[Resources] Pedro Cabral

File:Pedro alvares cabral 01.png
Pedro Cabral (c. 1467 - c. 1520) was the Portuguese explorer who discovered Brazil on April 22, 1500. He was born into a noble family (with a family coat of arms of two purple goats on a field of silver) and a family story that their ancestor was Caranus, the first king of Macedonia, who was himself a descendant of Hercules.

As a young nobleman, he learned to fight and campaigned in North Africa for his king and country. Reputed to have been vain and overly concerned with his position and honor, he was also known for courtesy, a generous and prudent nature, was well-educated and tolerant to his enemies.

Appointed commander-in-chief of a fleet of 13 ships by the King of Portugal in 1500, he landed on the coast of Brazil in April with only the loss of one ship on the voyage to the New World. Cabral's men erected a large wooden cross to celebrate Portugal's claim to the land and one of his ships was sent back to inform the King of the discovery.

The fleet continued sailing along the coast of Brazil then crossed the Atlantic to Africa in May but a storm sank four ships, with a loss of nearly 400 men, one ship became lost and the remaining six regrouped. Although damaged, the fleet made repairs along the east coast of Africa before reaching Calcutta in September.

Cabral's stay in Calcutta was less than ideal. Fifty of his men were killed in a confrontation in the streets and Cabral seized 10 Arab merchant ships, killing 600 crewmen, looting the ships and then burning them as a reprisal.

The Portuguese fleet sailed to Kochi, a city beholden to Calcutta and forged an alliance with it's king, exploiting the king's desire for independence from Calcutta. Cabral filled his ships' holds with spices and sailed for Africa.

Along the way, they lost another ship, burning it where it ran aground with the loss of the cargo. At Mozambique, the fastest ship was sent ahead to the King, one was sent on another errand, while a third became lost.

Cabral's remaining two ships met up with another Portuguese fleet (and found the lost ship from the Atlantic crossing with only seven men left alive). Part of that fleet sailed to Brazil with Amerigo Vespucci (the navigator credited with naming the Americas) while Cabral sailed for home.

Five of the original 13 came home with full holds, two returned empty and six were lost. All told, the profit from the voyage more than made up for the cost, making Cabral (and the Crown) wealthy.

Cabral was chosen for a new voyage but was replaced with a rival nobleman and he lost favor with the King. He married a rich woman in 1503, had four children and remained estranged from the royal court. He was knighted in 1518 and he died two years later.

Pedro Cabral would be an excellent NPC in any exploration game set around 1500, either as a patron or an enemy (especially in India).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

[Resources] The Gill

The Gill is a unit of measure equivalent to one-quarter of a pint–5 imperial fluid ounces for an imperial gill or 4 U.S. fluid ounces for a U.S. gill.

I remember seeing this unit for a variety of brandies and liqueurs on the menu of The Inn of the Welcome Wench when I played AD&D module T1: The Village of Hommlet.  

I don't think I ever had a character order a gill of anything in Hommlet but I learned plenty of new words when I was a kid just starting out playing D&D. It was one of the leading factors in improving my vocabulary and prompted me to read more and more fantasy and science fiction. 

The gill is probably appropriate in a fantasy game due to D&D tradition but feel free to shake it up.


Monday, November 18, 2013

[Resources] Apollonius of Tyana

Apollonius of Tyana was a philosopher and miracle-worker from the 1st Century, often considered a contemporary of Jesus.

He was born into wealth and traveled throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, from Spain to Rome and Greece through to modern-day Iran and India.

One of his philosophical writings that has survived is called On Sacrifices, which posits that god eschews prayers and worship, and is only interested in interacting with humans by intellect, known as nous.

Historical facts about Apollonius, much like Jesus, are severely lacking, leading one historian to state "the most that can be said ... is that Apollonius appears to have been a wandering ascetic/philosopher/wonderworker of a type common to the eastern part of the early empire."

His miraculous powers included ESP and prophesy. In fact, on September 18, 96 CE, he foretold the death of Roman Emperor Domitian that very day and it came to pass. Apollonius was more than 800 miles away at the time. After his death, Apollonius appeared to Palmyrene Emperor Aurelian in 272 CE in a vision following the emperor's capture of Tyana. Aurelian spared the city destruction.

A biography titled The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, comprising eight books, was written by Philostratus and completed around 220 CE. It included a lot of information on his travels, teachings and powers but many scholars consider it pure fiction of the time.

The medieval church cast Apollonius as an enemy of the Church and a magician who consorted with demons and Satan to overthrow Christianity. From the 17th century, anti-Church writers, promoting a Reason-based non-denominational religion, would often compare Apollonius to Jesus in order to attack Christianity.

Since many of Apollonius' writings are lost to antiquity, finding one of his mystical tomes (or racing to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands) would be an excellent adventure.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

[Resources] House of Cards


One of the standards of American Television is it's tendency to poach T.V. shows from other countries, often the United Kingdom.

Before the House of Cards (U.S. series, 2013), there was the U.K. version (1990). While I haven't seen the U.S. show (I have it added to my Netflix queue), the British show is going to be very hard to beat.

Francis Urquhart (played with distinction and style by the late Ian Richardson) is the Conservative Party's Chief Whip, a thoroughly amoral character that is an excellent template for villainy. Urquhart spends the miniseries wheeling and dealing all the way into 10 Downing Street to become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

No deal is too low for Francis–he gleefully blackmails other politicians, leaks sensitive information to the press, manipulates a young journalist into an illicit affair, murders one of his drug-addicted underlings with delight, remove rivals to the PM's office and ..., well, I don't want to give all of his crimes away.

But he's so likeable! He frequently breaks the fourth wall by talking directly to the audience in a tongue-in-cheek manner and has his own, unique catch-phrase "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment" that he uses with aplomb.

Much like the character of Harry Lime that I wrote about in 2011, Francis Urquhart is another amoral archetype that a GM would be crazy to omit from their NPC toolbox.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

[Resources] Japanese Castles


At one time, Japan had nearly 5,000 castles but now there are only around 100 left in the country.

Made with stone and more wood than European castles, many were destroyed during the Warring States period, known as the Sengoku period, between 1467 and 1603. Some, due to their important strategic locations, were rebuilt.

Japanese castles went through innovations over the centuries, with many made when firearms were introduced to Japan. While large cannon were expensive and rare, matchlock arquebuses were more common. Castles developed more man-made, rather than natural, fortifications by building upon large stone foundations with wooden fortifications above.

These castles were focused on ranged attacks with matchlock guns. Additionally, the layout of the castle became more complex, creating a series of baileys and courtyards that allowed defenders to attack and defeat those who breached the walls.

One of my favorite websites on Japanese castles is the Go Japan Go Japanese Castles page. It has a lot of history, maps and details.

Friday, November 15, 2013

[Resources] Fictional Books in Print and Non-Print Media


Sometimes during a game, it's necessary to have a fictional book title ready at hand. And Wikipedia is a great resource for tons and tons of fictional books.

There are three lists available:

1. Fictional Books


This list has books that appear in novels.

Four of my favorites are:
  • Jack, The Story of a Cat by Hilda Simpson
  • If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
  • The King in Yellow by Castaigne
  • The Worm of Midnight by Edgar Allen Poe





This list has books that appear in music, movies, video games and television shows.

Some of my favorites are:
  • Ghost Hunting by Emil Laslo
  • Oh The People Who Hate You by Dr. Seuss
  • Fabled Diseases of Old, Long Since Debunked by Modern Science
  • The Weird-Headed Boy and the Mean Old Witch by Agatha Caulfield


This list covers books that appear in Marvel and DC comics, as well as other comics, and newspaper comics.

Some favorites of mine are:

  • Is My Kid a Psycho?
  • The Emperor Over the Sea by C.S. Lewis
  • Tarzan in Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Explaining the Unknown


Thursday, November 14, 2013

[Resources] Cluedo

Even before playing RPGs, I played the boardgame Cluedo (known as Clue in the US) with my siblings.

The game was a popular one in my house and with my friends. After secretly (and randomly) choosing a weapon, suspect and murder room, and placing them in an envelope, the remaining cards are distributed to the players.

Then each player takes on the persona of one of the suspects: Miss Scarlet, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard.

Pieces move around the 9 room mansion and on each player's turn, they make a suggestion of who is the murderer, which of the 6 weapons was used and the room the murder occurred in (and the player's piece must be in that room to make the guess).

The other players then have an opportunity to prove it wrong by secretly showing the guessing player one of their cards, thereby showing one of the facts of the crime is not true. The players spend the following rounds of the game seeking to learn what weapons, suspects and rooms to discard and solve the crime with the remaining items.

Clue was a great game to play for an imaginative kid, prior to learning about RPGs. We each developed characterizations of the suspects, making Colonel Mustard a stuffy British soldier, Mrs. Peacock as a flighty housewife and Professor Plum as an absent-minded academic, and, dare I say, roleplaying each character.

There have been many different editions and spinoffs of Cluedo, including board games, interactive media games and computer games. Hollywood even made Clue into a movie in 1985, starring Tim Curry, Leslie Ann Warren, Michael McKean, Christopher Lloyd and Madeline Kahn.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

[Resources] Abracadabra

Abracadabra is a magical word used in modern times for stage magicians. But it's history stretches all the way back to Ancient Rome.

The word first appeared in Liber Medicinalis by Quintus Serenus Sammonicus, as a healing amulet. Sammonicus was a physician to Emperor Caracalla in the third century.

Some people think it is a Hebrew phrase A'bra (I create) ca (what) dab'ra (I speak) but the etymology is obscure.

As a magic word, it's one of the best known. It's appeared in books, movies and even TV shows (Harry Dresden has a poster of it on the wall in the Dresden Files TV show).

You can even find it on Etsy.

It could be used as a codeword in a urban fantasy game or as a cipher in a spy game. As to what the cipher means, well, you'd have to work that one out yourself.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

[Resources] Loch Arkaig Treasure

In 1745, a treasure was floated across the water to Scotland in support Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Rebellion. The first part of the gold ended up captured by Clan Mackay, a clan loyal to George II.

Another shipment arrived in Scotland in April, 1746. Seven caskets of gold. But it arrived too late, after the Battle of Culloden on April 16th.

One casket was stolen by McDonald of Barrisdale and the other six were hidden at Loch Arkaig, to help prominent Jacobites to escape.

Macpherson of Cluny had the secret of it's location. Hiding out in a cave at Ben Alder, he kept the secret even when Bonnie Prince Charlie joined him and after Charlie fled to France in September.

For the next eight years, Macpherson stayed in that cave, known as "The Cage," and used the gold to finance rebellions that came to naught. Bonnie Prince Charlie never saw any of it and blamed Macpherson for the loss of it.

After 1753, no trace of the treasure was found though the Stuart papers have a series of contradicting stories about the gold and one of the clans mentions French coins found in the 1850s.

This treasure could be used in a treasure-hunting game set between 1746 and today. It could also be mixed with the legends and myths of the Highlands of Scotland for a mystical game. The possibilities are there, ripe for the taking.

Monday, November 11, 2013

[Resources] Logan's Run


A society that limits the ages of it's citizens! A group of soldiers that enforce it! A giant cuisinart that chops people up while surrounded by cheering crowds! A post-apocalyptic world beyond the city! A secret path to escape! Crazy robots and old men surrounded by cats!

Logan's Run (1976) has all of this, plus the cheesy goodness of 1970s science fiction! And it spawned a 14 episode TV series with some familiar faces.

It's a great movie with lots that inspired some of our greatest RPGs. The film is a mish-mash of different games.

I can see at least three!

You can see the corporate drones and security from Cyberpunk 2020 in the city's bland, futuristic society. You can see the Computer from the Paranoia RPG running the show, following it's crazy programming. You can see out-of-control robots from the Gamma World RPG in the crazy robot Box, following it's crazy programming.

Give this old gem a viewing. It won't disappoint.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

[Resources] Dr. Syn alias The Scarecrow

Russell Thorndike wrote the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh series starting in 1915. Set in Kent during the reign of George III, it features the Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn as the Scarecrow, the leader of a band of smugglers who bring in goods from France to avoid the high taxes levied by the King.

The series combined pirate tales (as Syn was a famous pirate named Captain Clegg) along with the secret identity of the likes of the Scarlet Pimpernel or Batman (who would have imagined that the local priest was the Scarecrow?).

Dr. Syn was popular enough to generate seven books in the series between 1915 and 1944, three films between 1937 and 1963 (the last by Disney), and four audio adaptations.

The Scarecrow of Romney March presents plenty of ideas that would work in your campaigns, either with the PCs as part of the gang or hunting them.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

[Resources] Prince-Electors of the Holy Roman Empire

The Prince-Electors of the Holy Roman Empire were seven individuals that selected the next Holy Roman Emperor.

Comprised of three lords of the Empire (the Margrave of Brandenburg, the Duke of Saxony and the Count Palatine of the Rhine), three members of the Church (the Archbishops of Cologne, Trier and Mainz) and a neighboring independent monarch (the King of Bohemia), the Electors originally had power to select the Emperor, following the ancient Germanic tribal tradition, but in later years, it was merely a formality.

The lords represented the dukes of the nations of the Franks, Saxons, Swabians and Bavarians, while Archbishops represented the Church's most powerful Episcopal Sees in Germany.

Histories note that the electors made their selections in 1152 and 1198. In 1648, due to the Treaty of Munster, there were eight electors, which later increased to nine in 1692. By 1777, it was back down to eight. And between 1152 and 1777, due to politics and warfare, a number of electors were banned from choosing the Emperor.

In 1803, the number of electors increased to ten, removing some of the old hereditary electors and adding four new ones. But they never got to cast any votes because, in 1806, the Holy Roman Empire ended.

Electing kings is a pretty radical idea for feudal societies. It would make an interesting addition to a campaign centered on medieval political intrigue.

Friday, November 8, 2013

[Resources] Last Words

"Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs from a 44
No Les
No more"
–Tombstone on Boot Hill in Tombstone, AZ

There are a lot of famous last words and they're a great inspiration for your own heroes' and villains' last words.


"Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."

–Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary, d. 1923

Peruse these dying words with care. Some are humorous, some mysterious, some sad, but all of them are inexplicably tied to their utterer. That is the less to learn.

I am about to–or I am going to–die: either expression is correct.
–Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian, d. 1702

Thursday, November 7, 2013

[Resources] Jasper Maskelyne

Jasper Meskelyne was a successful stage magician in the 1930s. Then WWII started and he used his magic skills for England.

Or did he? Accounts of his exploits vary, a mix of some myth and some reality. Which was which? David Fisher wrote The War Magician (1983) extolling his abilities, as Meskelyne had done himself in his ghost-written book Magic: Top Secret (1949).

Others weren't as kind. Magician Richard Stokes, in a series of 21 articles published in issues of Genii Magic Journal, compared Meskelyne's and Fisher's books with military sources and concludes that most of it never happened. Another article in Wired by David Hambling was equally critical of the fables.

So what do we really know? Maybe not even this:

In 1940, while in the Royal Engineers, Jasper found himself at the Camouflage Development and Training Center in Farnham Castle. While his stage show was popular among the trainees, he was unsuccessful at camouflage.

Posted to Cairo, he was transferred to a variety of posts, one to design hidden escape equipment for captured soldiers and one to develop new camouflage techniques.

By 1942, he was back to doing what he did best: magic shows for the troops. After the war, he tried unsuccessfully to revive his career and ended up in Kenya.

Jasper would make a great contact in a game set during WWII or the Interwar period. Whether a fake or a real wizard, he'd make a good fall guy to blame, an innocent bystander that distracts the party, a master villain with a nefarious plan or an occult boss in-the-know for the PCs to interact with.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

[Resources] The Cross

The cross is an ancient symbol, used across human cultures and during many eras. It's the major symbol of Christianity and is present in coats of arms and art and flags.

There is no single cross, but a variety of different crosses that add different parts to different sections of the cross.

The Papal Cross and the Cross of Salem have two extra cross-bars (in different locations), while the Patriarchal Cross and the Lorraine Cross has one extra (in the same place).

The Iron Cross has flares at each end, while the Budded Cross has three circles at each end.

(I'm not going to continue because it's far easier for you to go to the link above and see all the varieties to choose from.)

Using a broken cross like the swastika for a bad guy's symbol in a game and everyone at the table is keenly aware that they are fighting Nazis. The Iron Cross in a game with WWI biplanes and the players know they're fighting the Flying Circus. Present a Celtic Cross to bring your players into an early Christian Ireland, rife with myth and the after-effects of the Roman invasion.

Images of crosses are readily available all over the internet. Do a search and you'll find some that are really cool looking. And see how you can fit them into your game.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

[Resources] Oakeshott Typology

One of the things I love about this hobby are all the opportunities to learn history. And swords. Because swords are present in nearly every game I play.

Historian Ewart Oakeshott wrote a book called The Archaeology of Weapons: Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry (1960) that outlined 13 types of medieval swords (Type X to XXII) that were made from the 11th to 15th century.

Oakeshott's book was a continuation of Jan Petersen's De Norske Vikingsverg (1919), translated as The Norwegian Viking Swords, and R.E.M. Wheeler's book London and the Vikings (1927), outlining the first 9 types of swords (Type I to IX).

The Oakeshott Institute has info on the types of swords and several research articles.

Monday, November 4, 2013

[Resources] Lady Justice

Lady Justice, the philosophical descendent of Dike, the Greek goddess of Justice, is personified in modern law as a symbol of the legal system

Armed with a bared sword, blindfolded and holding a balanced scale, Lady Justice stands in front of courts all across the world, from Hong Kong to the Old Bailey, from Memphis, Tennessee to Tehran.

There are lots of pictures of Lady Justice and those images would make excellent visuals for an inspired Golems. Or used as flavor in courthouse scenes. Or used as statues from an ancient culture. Or even used as a template for a female order of blindfolded paladins, spreading justice across the land.

The imagery of Lady Justice could be used for many games.







Sunday, November 3, 2013

[Resources] US Invasion during WWII



The above scene from The Rocketeer (1991) posits rocket-pack powered Nazi of the Third Reich taking over the world.

But before The Rocketeer, and even before the whole myriad of "Nazis win World War II" alternate history genre fiction, in 1942, the war wasn't a done-deal.

So LIFE magazine published an article in the March 2nd, 1942, issue that gives six different invasion routes to take over the United States.

It's a pretty interesting read, with Japan invading through Dutch Harbor or invading Hawaii, Germany striking the East Coast, and many of them rely on 5th columnists attacking from within.

It's also an interesting look into early WWII American concerns about the course of the war.

This magazine article would be a great resource for any WWII or Inter War period game.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

[Resources] Colonel Sander's Secret Recipes

According to a reliable source, there's a secret society called the Pentavirate, made up of the five wealthiest families and people in the world. They include the Vatican, the Queen, the Gettys, the Rothchilds and Colonel Sanders.

This secret society is not listed in the Mammoth Book of Conspiracies by Jon E. Lewis but it should be.

A few years ago, in the archives of the Kentucky Fried Chicken company, someone found a book of secret recipes written by Colonel Sanders.

The book, currently under wraps, also is reported to contain stories.

And I bet you that some of those stories are about the Pentavirate. Or some of those secret recipes are a secret code revealing important details....

I wonder who'd pay to possess that book? I wonder who'd pay to get those secrets back?

Friday, November 1, 2013

[Resources] Freydís Eiríksdóttir

Most people recognize the history of Erik the Red.

They even know about his son, Leif Eriksson.

But few people outside of Scandinavia know about Erik's daughter, and Leif's half-sister, Freydis Eriksdottir.

Freydis was, quite frankly, a bad-ass. She was the epitome of a shieldmaiden.

In the Saga of Erik the Red, she travelled with a Viking band to Vinland. The band was attacked by Skraelings. Even though she was pregnant, she "came upon a dead man, Thorbrand, Snorri's son, with a flat stone fixed in his head; his sword lay beside him, so she took it up and prepared to defend herself therewith. Then came the Skraelingjar upon her. She let down her sark and struck her breast with the sword. At this they were frightened, rushed off to their boats, and fled away."

In the Groenlendings Saga, she joined another expedition to Vinland. Before they depart, she and her partners, Helgi and Finnbogi, agree to each bring the same number of men but she betrays her partners and brings more men. Once in Vinland, she and her men kill the others. Because none of her men have the stomach for it, she executes five women that were with Helgi and Finnbogi's group.

When they return to Greenland a year later, she claimed that Hegli and Finnbogi stayed in Vinland and made her men say the same, under pain of death. Yeah, because threatening lives of your followers always works, right?

Word gets out and Freydis' half-brother, Lief, grabs three of the men from the expedition and tortures them for the truth. Even though he learns the truth about his sister, he can't bring himself to bring her to justice.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

[EverFATE] Character Generation Outline


Character Generation Outline

Vision Stage:
  • Draw 5 Vision Cards and create a basic character idea from those cards.
Identity Stage:
  • Select a character name.
  • Create a Motive (High Concept) Aspect.
  • Either draw three Fortune Deck Cards to develop the Fault (Trouble) Aspect and Virtue and Fate Aspects, -or- free-form create Aspects for each of them.
  • Record Name and Aspects in the appropriate boxes on the character sheet.
Elements, Powers and Magic:
  • Divide 20 points among Elements, Powers and Magic.
  • Each is outlined below in separate stages.
  • Magic is tied to one Element (Earth, Air, Fire or Water).
  • Magic cannot exceed Epic (+7) and cannot exceed it's tied Element
Elements Stage:
  • Each of the Elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) starts at Poor (-1).
  • One (1) point raises an Element up the FATE Ladder one step.
  • Record the final FATE Adjective in the Element wedge.
Specialty Stage:
  • Select one free Specialty per Element.
  • Specialties add a +1 to the value of the Element for that particular Specialty.
  • Specialties include:
  1. Earth: thick skin, resisting magic, resisting persuasion
  2. Air: lying, occult lore, herb lore, oratory, singing
  3. Fire: archery, jumping, climbing, running, swordfighting
  4. Water: stealth, sensing ambush, diagnosing illness
  • Cross-specialties are also allowed (i.e. using a speciality from one Element with a different Element).
  • Record each of the Specialties with the final FATE Adjective and value in the appropriate Element wedge.
Powers and Stunts:
  • Stunts can be purchased per FATE Accelerated Edition for two (2) points.
  • Powers cost between one (1) and three (3) points, with one (1) point for each Major, Frequent or Versatile feature.
  • Each character gets one free 0-point Power that is neither Major, Frequent or Versatile.
  • Record the total Power points in the Powers hexagon of the character sheet.
  • Record Powers and Stunts in the Powers section of the character sheet.
Magic:
  • Spend any remaining points on Magic, with the following rules:
  1. Magic is tied to one Element (Earth, Air, Fire or Water).
  2. Magic cannot exceed Epic (+7). 
  3. Magic cannot exceed it's tied Element.
  • Record the total Magic points in the Magic heptagon of the character sheet.
  • Record the final FATE Adjective and value in the Magic section of the character sheet.
Stress Tracks:
  • Calculate Physical and Mental Stress Tracks.
  • Physical is based on the Earth Element score.
  • Mental is based on the Water Element score.
Earth or Water scoreCorresponding Stress Track Size
Poor (-1) or Mediocre (+0)2
Average (+1) or Fair (+2)3
Good (+3) or Great (+4)4
Superb (+5)4 + extra mild consequence
Fantastic (+6)4 + extra mild & moderate consequence
Epic (+7)4 + extra mild, moderate & severe consequence

  • Consequences are limited to mild, moderate and severe.

Refresh:

  • Default is 3.
  • Trade 1 Refresh for 2 more points to spend on Elements, Powers, Magic or Stunts.
  • Minimum Refresh is 1.

Monday, October 28, 2013

[EverFATE] Character Generation: Refresh

Refresh for EverFATE defaults at 3.

If the player wants to spend some of that, then each Refresh is worth 2 more points to be spent on Elements, Powers, Magic or Stunts.

The minimum allowed Refresh is 1, so only 2 Refresh can be spent in this manner.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

[EverFATE] Character Generation: Stress Tracks and Consequences


Stress Tracks for EverFATE follows the standard FATE model.

There are two categories, Physical and Mental. Each start with 2 boxes. Physical is linked to the Earth Element, while Mental is linked to Water.

Earth or Water scoreCorresponding Stress Track Size
Poor (-1) or Mediocre (+0)2
Average (+1) or Fair (+2)3
Good (+3) or Great (+4)4
Superb (+5)4 + extra mild consequence
Fantastic (+6)4 + extra mild & moderate consequence
Epic (+7)4 + extra mild, moderate & severe consequence

Consequences are limited to mild, moderate and severe.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

[EverFATE] Character Creation: Magic


So far, I've combined character creation for Everway and FATE Accelerated Edition, using Vision Cards to determine the basic character, defining Aspects, selecting from a pool of points for Elements and Specialties, and spending more of that point pool on Powers and Stunts.

The last part of an Everway character (and an EverFATE character) is Magic.

Magic in Everway is very powerful but limited by the Element the Magic is tied to, with two basic rules:

  • Magic cannot exceed 7, and
  • Magic cannot exceed it's tied Element.

According to Everway, having a Magic of 1 is Apprentice-level, 2 and 3 are Journeyman, 4 is a talented practitioner, while 5 and above are truly powerful mages, with 7 being Archmage category.

That's fairly easy to port into EverFATE, as the basic rules would still apply, in this case, Magic cannot exceed Epic (+7) and it's tied Element.

Additionally, the skill in Magic would follow each step of the FATE Ladder. An Apprentice Mage would have an Average (+1) skill, a talented practitioner would have a Great (+4) skill, and an Archmage would have an Epic (+7) skill.

Creating the various spells and etc. is available on many Everway websites, like this one, this one and this one.

Next, I'll provide stress tracks and consequences.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

[EverFATE] Character Creation: Powers and Stunts


Last time, we talked about EverFATE Elements, which, in my opinion, were similar to FATE Accelerated Edition's Approaches.

This post, I'll cover Powers and Stunts.

Powers in Everway are extra bits of abilities that aren't covered by Elements or Magic. Powers have three possible facets to them: Is it Major? Can it have a Frequent use? And is it Versatile?

For example, Fast Healing would be considered Versatile, while being Unkillable would be Major and Frequent. Invulnerability would be all three.

Each facet costs 1 point, so Fast Healing would be 1 point, Unkillable is 2, and Invulnerable is 3 points.

Translating that to EverFATE is fairly simple: port it straight over and allow each Power to have a FATE Ladder adjective and value, with a 1 point power at Average (+1), a 2 point power Fair (+2) and a 3 point power Good (+3), for those situations that require a bonus value.

Everway also allows for a single 0-point Power, which cannot be Major, Frequent or Versitile. That's easy in EverFATE. Just take the single 0-point Power. Done.

But what about the FATE Accelerated Edition Stunts?

I don't think they should be left out, either. Since most Stunts give a +2 to a roll, then each Stunt would cost 2 points.

Next post, I'll go into magic....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

[EverFATE] Character Creation: Elements


Continuing with EverFATE character creation, the next three section are Elements, Powers and Magic.

In Everway, the player has 20 points to divide between them, and I see no reason to change that for EverFATE.

So in this post, I'll cover Elements and their attached Specialties.

Everway has four Elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

The Earth Element is focused on health, might and endurance, with Specialties of resisting persuasion, resisting magic and thick skin.

The Air Element deals with intellect, thought and speech, with Specialties of herb lore, occult lore, lying, oratory and singing.

The Fire Element concerns action, strength, fighting and speed, with Specialties of archery, jumping, climbing, sword-fighting and running.

The Water Element applies to intuition, feeling and sensitivity, with Specialties of sensing ambush, stealth and diagnosing illness.

In many ways, each of these Elements behave similar to FATE Accelerated Edition Approaches.

While FAE has Approaches of Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick and Sneaky, it's easy to see that Everway combines each of these six into four Elements:
  • Forceful and Quick into Fire,
  • Clever and Flashy into Air,
  • Careful and Sneaky into Water, and
  • Forceful into Earth.
In Everway, each Element starts at 0, but I concur with Mr. Float and am going to start each Element in EverFATE at Poor (-1).

One point raising an Element up the FATE Ladder by one step.

Everway allows one Specialty for each Element, which would add a +1 to the value, so translating that to EverFATE is easy.

Like Everway, cross-specialties are allowed (i.e. using a Specialty from one Element with a different Element).

There is plenty of space in each of the Element wedges to record both the Element and the Specialty FATE adjectives and values.

Next, I'll go into Powers and Stunts...


Friday, October 18, 2013

[EverFATE] Character Creation: Aspects

I've read Mr. Float's character generation rules from that single RPG.net EverFATE thread. And I've also looked over the Everway rules (as presented here).

Part of the ideas for this Everway and FATE hack is to be able to use the Everway character sheet, Fortune Deck and Vision Cards. So I'll be building the character generation process from them.

First, even before we get to the character sheet, Everway character generation uses Vision Cards to create a character concept. Five cards are drawn and the player uses them to get an idea of the character. Since the cards can be interpreted wildly from person to person, there is no change from Everway.

After creating a basic formulation from the Vision Cards, we go to the character sheets. The top section contains boxes for Name, Motive, Virtue, Fault and Fate, the first two of which are chosen by the player and the remainder are determined by Fortune Deck card draws.


Converting this to FATE Accelerated Edition, these work with Aspects. Motive matches well with High Concept, Fault matches with Trouble and the others, Virtue and Fate, are just additional Aspects.

Create the first Aspect, Motive, per the High Concept Aspect in FAE.

The choice to use the Fortune Deck is up to the player. Either draw three cards from the Fortune Deck and determine Aspects for Fault (Trouble), Virtue and Fate.

Alternatively, ignore the Fortune Deck and create Fault, Virtue and Fate Aspects free-form, like FAE.

I'll be going into Elements, Powers and Magic in the next couple of posts. With these three abilities, the player has 20 points to divide between them to define the character further. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

[EverFATE] Some on Everway

There are several excellent resources for Everway on the web, like the above Character Sheet on Scribd.

Besides the abandoned company website, Gaslight Press, successor to Rubicon Games, you can check out the Spherewalker Wiki.

There are two EverWiki's, but only one is the Everway EverWiki. (The other EverWiki is, unfortunately, all about Evernote, an excellent program, I grant you, one that I use myself, but not about Everway).

A fellow in Portland created an Everway Character Creation page. A fellow in Princeton created an Everway page. Another person in the UK has one, too. And yet another page from I don't know where.

Kat has an Everway page, and a rant on the magic system and spellcasting rules, with a link to a variant. Cave Felix has a character write-up. Someone even came up with a Star Wars Everway.

The Everwayan is an excellent blog on the game and Department V has some good articles on it.

And there are a few reviews: RPG.net has some (1, 2, 3, 4)  and a few blogs (5, 6789, 10, 11). RPG.net also has an Actual Play thread and another couple of websites have campaign logs (1213).

There's even an article on Character Creation for Everway by the game author Jonathan Tweet, written in 2007, and another he wrote in 2005 on his blog.

Finally, there's a website called Amberway, mixing Amber with Everway.

Monday, October 14, 2013

[EverFATE] The Road Slightly Travelled

Other people have thought of this before, mixing FATE and Everway.

I know I'm not being unique. But then, two great tastes going together has always been the way of things. Just remember that chocolate and peanut butter candy that's still the rage.

Mr. Float over at RPG.net has a thread on EverFATE from 2010. No one responded.

Mr. Float's idea was simple:

  • Draw three cards from the Fortune Deck as Aspects for Destiny, Strength and Weakness.
  • Draw six Vision Cards and discard two. Come up with Aspects for the remaining four cards.
  • Spend 20 points on the four Elements (Fire, Air, Earth, Water) and stunts for Powers and Magic. The Elements start at Poor (-1).
  • Health is based on Earth.
  • Composure is based on Water.
It's a good start.

Let's see where this goes.





Saturday, October 12, 2013

[EverFATE] Everway and FATE Accelerated Edition

I'm a big fan of Everway. I've only played it a couple of times at a convention but I own two box sets and a bunch of other stuff for it. It's tres cool.

I also am a big fan of FATE. I have Spirit of the Century (two copies), Starblazer Adventures, Legends of Anglerre, diaspora, and I even backed the FATE Core Kickstarter. Soon all the FATE books will be mine!

And for years, Everway has been in my house. Always visible in the room I keep my game books. The boxes peeking out over the top of the bookshelf. And for years I've been wondering how to use them.

I want to bring the box set to the game. I want to use the beautiful character sheets and the Fortune Deck and the Vision Cards. I want to use it all!

So, one day, Evil Hat comes to the door, wanting to introduce me to FATE Accelerated Edition and I think "Hey! They could work well together!"

I think I'll see how they do.

Friday, September 27, 2013

[Dresden Files] Matt's Ready-Made Spell Generator for the Busy & Harried Mage

As a fan of Evil Hat and the Dresden Files, I bought the Dresden Files Roleplaying Game when it first came out.

Recently, I morphed my Spectral Seattle FATE Accelerated Edition game into a Dresden Files FATE Accelerated Edition game. The player characters are all White Council Wardens and, since all the players have no experience with the magic system, I build a spreadsheet to help them out.

You can find the zipped file on Google Drive and it contains an .xls file (Excell 1997-2004).

I put in page references for the Dresden Files RPG Volume One: Your Story book and provided instructions for each page.

Character information is placed on the Wizard's Info page. This page also includes spaces for Skills (Lore, Discipline and Conviction) scores, the range of Elements and Specialties and bonuses, Focus Items (for both Evocation, Thaumaturgy and Crafting), Focus Item and Enchanted Item Slots, Focus Item bonus data and Refinement Powers.

The Evocation and Thaumaturgy pages have the spell generation processes and refers to the Wizard's Info. The calculation

The Crafting page has space for up to eight enchanted items and allows users to select potion slots.

Try it out, let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

[Trickster] Mika Renar


(Mika Renar is a character in Jeff Somers' 2013 urban fantasy novel Trickster and is presented here as a fan-inspired homage to an excellent book. I recommend that you read it.)

Mika Renar (FATE Accelerated Edition)
enustari (Archmage)

High Concept: I am the world's most powerful Archmage

Trouble: I am a weak old woman and I fear death.

Aspect: I bleed people dry just to prove a point.

Aspect: My Glamour is second to none.

Aspect: I will cast the biludha-tah-namas.

Approaches:
Careful: Fair (+2), Clever: Good (+3), Flashy: Average (+1), Forceful: Mediocre (+0), 
Quick: Average (+1), Sneaky: Fair (+2)

Stunt: Because I have Bleeders, I get a +2 when I Cleverly cast a spell.

Stunt: Because I am so powerful, I get a +2 to Forcefully intimidate someone.

Stunt: Because I have a artifact, I get a +2 when I Carefully cast a spell.

Refresh: 3
Current FATE Points: 3

Stress: [_] [_] [_] 

Consequences:
Mild (2):

Moderate (4):

Severe (6):

Description:
Mika Renar is the world's most powerful Archmage and she's afraid of death. What does someone do when they have power enough to cheat death?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

[Trickster] Calvin "Cal" Amir


(Calvin "Cal" Amir is a character in Jeff Somers' 2013 urban fantasy novel Trickster and is presented here as a fan-inspired homage to an excellent book. I recommend that you read it.)

Calvin "Cal" Amir (FATE Accelerated Edition)
saganustari (Powerful Magician)

High Concept: Blood Mage Apprenticed to Power

Trouble: Mika Renar is a harsh master.

Aspect: I have enough Bleeders that I don't have to bleed myself.

Aspect: I know magic and want to know more.

Aspect: Few people can withstand me.

Approaches:
Careful: Mediocre (+0), Clever: Fair (+2), Flashy: Good (+3), Forceful: Fair (+2), 
Quick: Average (+1), Sneaky: Average (+1)

Stunt: Because I have Bleeders, I get a +2 when I Cleverly cast a spell.

Stunt: Because I am apprenticed to enustari Mika Renar, I get a +2 when I Sneakily do her business.

Stunt: Because I carry a gun, I get a +2 when I Forcefully attack someone.

Refresh: 3
Current FATE Points: 3

Stress: [_] [_] [_] 

Consequences:
Mild (2):

Moderate (4):

Severe (6):

Description:
Cal Amir is Mika Renar's apprentice. He was once apprenticed to Mika Renar's previous apprentice but that one died and freed Cal to take his place. Cal plans to wring every last magical secret from Mika and willingly does her bidding.

Friday, September 20, 2013

[Trickster] Hiram Bosch


(Hiram Bosch is a character in Jeff Somers' 2013 urban fantasy novel Trickster and is presented here as a fan-inspired homage to an excellent book. I recommend that you read it.)

Hiram Bosch (FATE Accelerated Edition)
ustari (Magician)

High Concept: Aging Blood Mage

Trouble: Mr. Vonnegan is his apprentice.

Aspect: The hun-kiuba (time-slowing ritual) is my greatest spell.

Aspect: A man's home is his castle.

Aspect: Mr. Vonnegan is wasting his potential and I still have things to teach him.

Approaches:
Careful: Fair (+2), Clever: Average (+1), Flashy: Good (+3), Forceful: Mediocre (+0), 
Quick: Average (+1), Sneaky: Fair (+2)

Stunt: Because I'm an ustari, I get a +2 when I Carefully cast a spell.

Stunt: Because I was apprenticed to enustari Faber Gottschalk, I get a +2 when I investigate spells or glyphs.

Stunt: Because I am a skilled teacher, I get a +2 when I Cleverly teach a spell.

Refresh: 3
Current FATE Points: 3

Stress: [_] [_] [_] 

Consequences:
Mild (2):

Moderate (4):

Severe (6):

Description:
Hiram Bosch is Lem's gasam and he refuses to release Lem from the oath as a punishment for failing to live up to his potential as a blood mage. Hiram lives well and uses his magic to keep him in creature comforts. But only a fool would underestimate his prowess at blood magic.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

[Trickster] Pitr "Mags" Mageshkumar


(Pitr "Mages" Mageshkumar is a character in Jeff Somers' 2013 urban fantasy novel Trickster and is presented here as a fan-inspired homage to an excellent book. I recommend that you read it.)

Pitr "Mags" Mageshkumar (FATE Accelerated Edition)
idimustari (Trickster)

High Concept: Dim-witted Trickster Blood Mage

Trouble: Has difficulty remembering Cantrips

Aspect: I would step into traffic for Lem.

Aspect: I am the Brute Squad.

Aspect: Remember to finish the spell.

Approaches:
Careful: Fair (+2), Clever: Mediocre (+0), Flashy: Average (+1), Forceful: Good (+3), 
Quick: Average (+1), Sneaky: Fair (+2)

Stunt: Because I'm a Bad-Ass, I get a +2 when I Forcefully attack someone.

Stunt: Because I Act before Thinking, once per game session I can choose to go first in a physical conflict.

Stunt: Because I remember a few things about magic, I get a +2 when I Carefully cast a spell.

Refresh: 3
Current FATE Points: 3

Stress: [_] [_] [_] 

Consequences:
Mild (2):

Moderate (4):

Severe (6):

Description:
Mags likes Lem. He uses short expletives to describe a variety of situations, from wonder to anger. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

[FATE Accelerated] Men in Black Suits

Men in Black Suits (NPCs)

Mysterious Men in Black Suits

These two Men in Black Suits attempted to abduct Victoria and fell to the heroes, a U.S. Marine and a bucket of chum.

Skilled (+2) at: Guns, Intimidation

Bad (-2) at: Social Situations

MIBS 1 Stress [_] [_]
MIBS 2 Stress [_] [_]

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

[Trickster] Lemuel "Lem" Vonnegan


(Lemuel "Lem" Vonnegan is a character in Jeff Somers' 2013 urban fantasy novel Trickster and is presented here as a fan-inspired homage to an excellent book. I recommend that you read it.)

Lemuel "Lem" Vonnegan (FATE Accelerated Edition)
idimustari (Trickster)

High Concept: Trickster Blood Mage with a Twisted Code of Honor

Trouble: I won't bleed anyone but me to power my spells.

Aspect: Spell hacker, I can take a 22 words spell and break it down to 3.

Aspect: Don't try to con a con-man.

Aspect: Hiram Bosch, damn him, is still my gasam (master) and I his urtuku (apprentice).

Approaches:
Careful: Average (+1), Clever: Good (+3), Flashy: Mediocre (+0), Forceful: Average (+1), 
Quick: Fair (+2), Sneaky: Fair (+2)

Stunt: Because I am a Spell-casting Prodigy, I get a +2 when I Cleverly rework a spell.

Stunt: Because I am Quick with a Spell, once per game session I can choose to go first in a conflict.

Stunt: Because I am a Trickster, I get a +2 when I Sneakily con someone.

Refresh: 3
Current FATE Points: 3

Stress: [_] [_] [_] 

Consequences:
Mild (2):

Moderate (4):

Severe (6):

Description:
Lem is the protagonist of Trickster, a down-on-his-luck idimustari with his pal Mags. His luck goes from bad to worse when they heist a girl slated to be the next victim in a uber-spell.

Monday, September 16, 2013

[FATE Accelerated] Spectral Seattle, Session 1

After character creation, we started out the first session of the FATE Accelerated Edition: Spectral Seattle game in Pike Place Market.

Jeremy and Jarvis were hanging out by the mini-donut stand, enjoying some mini-donuts, when Jeremy spotted his not-quite-acquaintance, not-quite-friend Victoria (a recent FATE character stolen shamelessly from Christian Walker's Destination Unknown) weaving her way through the market. 

Jarvis spotted a gun tucked into her waistband at the back, hidden under her jacket, and that was news to Jeremy. Figuring that something was going on, they started to trail her. Jeremy mentioned that Victoria had escaped a doomsday cult and they wanted her back, so maybe that's why she was packing heat.

Suddenly, two Men in Black Suits (MIBS) came out of the crowd and grabbed her. A brief struggle, a bit of chloroform and a trench coat pulled over her, and Victoria was as good as abducted.

The J's leapt to her defense, with Jarvis quickly jumping from behind, trying to grab Victoria's gun to get the drop on the two MIBS. Meanwhile, Jeremy cut them off and stopped them from the front, trying to pretend that he knows them.

We worked through the conflicts and both players failed in their rolls trying to gain an advantage, with X trying to get the Aspect "I got the drop on you!" and R trying for "I know you!" 

MIBS #2 grabbed Victoria's gun and pointed it at Jarvis, causing a point of Stress, while MIBS #1 turned to Jeremy, smiled and said "Hey, you're Jeremy Saga! I know you!"

X chose to take the point in Jarvis' first Stress box. 

Jeremy grabbed a bucket of chum from a nearby fish stand and dowsed his MIBS. He succeeded and did two points of Stress to the MIBS.

Jarvis grabbed an off-duty U.S. Marine using his Stunt to get a volunteer. He gathered a small crowd and asked the marine to examine Victoria's gun to verify that is was real. X's roll beat MIBS #2, resulting in 3 Stress points. That took the MIBS out and X narrated that the marine put the smack-down on the MIBS.

Jeremy used another bucket of chum to finish off MIBS #1, winning the roll and did another point of Stress. With both MIBS down, Jarvis quickly frisked MIBS #2 and gained an advantage Aspect "The Detailed Plan" with style, rolling 5 above the target. That gave them two free uses of that Aspect.

The marine unloaded the gun and handed it to Jarvis as the two of them escaped with Victoria.

At a burger joint on Capital Hill, Victoria recovered while they figured out what was happening. The doomsday cult that Victoria escaped from had a ritual that allowed them to eat ghosts and gain something from it. A review of the plan pointed to the Seattle Aquarium, where Jeremy works (specifically the Aspect "Shark Tank") and Jeremy used his Student of the Occult stunt to figure out that the cult was looking for "Admiral Yamamoto's Spectacles" (another Aspect) in the stomach of one of the sharks. The cult believed it contained the ghost of Admiral Yamamoto.

The group got interrupted by the arrival of Kate, Jeremy's love interest, who drove up in a black '57 Chevy. Distracted by Kate (R accepted a FATE Point for this trouble), they lost valuable time but managed to get to the Aquarium right after closing.

Once in the observation dome below the shark tank, Jeremy and Jarvis had Victoria stand watch while they figured out which shark had the artifact. Jeremy determined that it was in Oxmix the Dogfish (a type of shark) with an advantage roll with style, creating the "Ritz Crackers!" Aspect worth two free invokes.

They narrated the scene, with Jeremy helping Jarvis get the shark to throw up by feeding it Ritz Crackers (which it loved) but also using Ritz Crackerfuls With Cheese (lactose intolerant shark). 

With the shark vomit in a net, they prepared to get the spectacles when I turned to X and said "I'd like to invoke your Trouble: In over my head." X rolled with it and took the FATE Point and we ended the session on a cliffhanger.

Lucas, the cult leader, and his men had snuck in, grabbed Victoria and now faced the PCs, with Victoria, bound and gagged, being suspended over the shark tank. Lucas calmly requested the artifact or Victoria would sleep with the fishes!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

[Trickster] The Setting


(This setting writeup is inspired by Jeff Somers' 2013 urban fantasy novel Trickster and is presented here as a homage to an excellent book. I recommend that you read it.)

The setting is our modern world, except it has magic. And magic requires blood to fuel it.

Spells and Spell Hacking:

Magic is divided into Cantrips, mu, and Rituals, biludha. Cantrips can be powered by small amounts of blood, while Rituals require much more.

Spells have a verbal component along with the material (blood) requirement. As a result, gagging a blood mage always prevents spell-casting.

Certain mages have the ability to hack spells, remove syllables to cast the spell faster or replace syllables to modify the effect of the spell. In one example, a hacked light spell was modified to create 16 variations and three syllables shorter for a quicker casting. This is considered a War Talent, as a shorter spell is faster to cast and more valuable in a combat situation.

Blood and the Drawing of Blood:

Blood is used to power all spells. The more blood, the bigger the effect.

Usually the mage cuts himself or hires someone to cut themselves for the blood. Penknives, switchblades, daggers, shivs, needles or any other stabby/slashy implement that will allow them to quickly draw their own blood are employed. Most keep a dedicated weapon for this purpose.

Some mages have dedicated bleeders (see below) but the majority have to pay the price themselves. As a result, they develop scarring all over their bodies, mostly on the arms, the legs and the torso.

Mages can also use any blood spilled around them and can even steal the blood from other mages or mages' bleeders during a magical duel.

Blood is referred to colloquially as gas. which could be related in the magical language to gasam (master).

Apprenticeship:

A student mage takes an oath to become the urtuku, the apprentice, of an established mage. Their gasam, their master, teaches them the ways of blood magic.

Apprentices are magically bound to their master and only death (of either) or the master himself can release them from the oath. 

Mages know intuitively if someone is bound by the urtuku oath and will not and cannot take that person as an apprentice until he is freed.

Most apprentices stay long enough to learn all they can from their masters. Some stay even longer, hoping to get all the knowledge they can. If an apprentice leaves without his master's assent, he is still under the oath.

As a result, urtuku cannot travel very far from their gasam and, if they do, it can end in death for the apprentice, if the master so chooses. Therefore, poor relations between an urtuku and gasam can get very uncomfortable for the apprentice.

Ranks of Mages:

There are several ranks of blood mages. The idimustari, the Tricksters, are at the bottom. They use small amounts of blood to cast Cantrips to con the mundanes. Some are highly skilled but most have limited abilities due to lack of training or raw talent. Lem and Mags are examples of idimustari.

The ustari are the full-rank Magicians. They can cast mu as well as more advanced spell rituals, biludha. Hiram Bosch is an ustari.

Bleeders are lesser mages, usually idimustari or ustari, that bleed at the command of more powerful mages. While even idimustari and ustari can hire non-mages to bleed for them, these hires are not considered Bleeders due to the lack of magical skill. Bleeders are well compensated for their service but risk the ever increasing chance that their masters may empty them of blood.

Saganustari are powerful mages, often having Bleeders to provide the blood for their spells. Cal Amir is a saganustari.

Enustari are the Archmages, the most powerful mages in the world. They have legions of bleeders and often cast spells that result in mass death events around teh world. The most powerful enustari is Mika Renar. Others encountered in the book are Faber Gottschalk (Hiram's gasam) and Evelyn Fallon, a Fabricator.

Fabricators, Magical Items and Constructs:

Fabricators are blood mages who create magical items. These include devices that power big biludha and often take years or decades to construct. Fabricators rarely take apprentices as they are jealous of their magical secrets.

The Fabricators from times past could create amazing magical items but the art has lost much of it's knowledge over the years. Past items of note include an udug, a bound demon of some sort. Unfortunately, very little information is known about this item.

Powerful mages can create dimma, a construct that fits the legendary standard of a golem. It is unknown if a Fabricator is necessary to do this as information on their construction is scant.

Mages and Technology:

Blood mages eschew technology, avoiding computers and most electronic devices. They don't seem to have any hex or jinx capability towards higher tech but they are uncomfortable using it more than rarely. Cars, guns and common household appliances seem to be the exceptions.