A blog about games, gamers, and various and sundry geek culture-related ephemera and paraphernalia.

Friday, December 30, 2011

An Open Letter to the Impending New Year

Here it goes:
Dear Coming New Year (this means you, 2012),

You better not suck like your predecessor, 2011, did. Not even close. If you even think about sucking that bad, you better pray you are the herald of end times the weirdos some people claim you are.

You have been warned.

This was inspired by a quote on the Malavon blog:
Let's just say I'd like to take 2011 out in the yard and shoot it in the head!
Amen, brother!

Actually, I'd like to take it out in the yard, shoot it in both kneecaps, kick it around a little, and then shoot it in the head.

. . . . .

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dark World: PC Secret Backgrounds

Here's the player character background table I plan on using for my Dark World game:

Secret Background Table (1d50)

1. "That copier's REALLY broken...": You’re an office temp from 20th- or 21st-century Earth. You were trying to fix a broken mimeograph/copier when – FLASH! You woke up here 3d30 days ago with a terrible headache. You have 1d4 possessions appropriate for your decade. (Do not roll on the PC’s Items of Interest table.) You refuse to acclimate to this weird place; however, your natural talents made you ripe for one of the human character classes. Your dress and mannerisms should reflect the decade you’re from. The DM should give you up to 5% bonus experience points for role playing your decade exceptionally well. Roll 1d6 to see what decade you’re from:
1: 1950’s
2: 1960’s
3: 1970’s
4: 1980’s
5: 1990’s
6: 2000’s

2. Polymorphed rodent: You are the result of a test of a wand of polymorph other. You've been a person for 1d4+2 months now and are still trying to get the hang of doing things the human/demi-human way.

3. Thog!: You are Thog. (Or some other one-syllable name.) Thog not speak word with more than one sy… sy… sound. (You are, of course, a thief or fighter.)

4. “Who am I?”: You have no memory of anything prior to 1d4 days ago. You still know how to use your skills, etc., but everything else is a blank. You don’t even know your own name.

5. Normal Joe/Plain Jane: You are actually pretty normal: your parents are alive and well, you have well-adjusted siblings, you had a normal childhood, and you really don't have a lot to complain about. In fact, you’re a little… too normal. Make 1d3 additional rolls on the Secret Nature table.

6. Illusion: You are actually just an illusion, and people could disbelieve you if they had any reason to. You are determined to make sure that everyone doesn't disbelieve you at the same time, because you’re afraid that you might cease to exist.

7. Disney Princess: You are the Disney Princess of your choice. Somehow your “happily ever after” was stolen from you and you ended up here. While you do want to get back, you are noticing you can do things here that were impossible before, like curse, or be unladylike in any other manner…

8. Which one is real?: You have the same appearance and background as the player seated to your left – EXACTLY the same.

9. “Uh oh...”: You rolled to check your character’s Secret Background, and you – the player – had your mind transported into your PC’s body in the fictional game world. Crap, the DM loves TPK's too....

10. Caused a great tragedy: You inadvertently caused a tragedy in your homeland that cost many lives and destroyed your entire community; the survivors became refugees and moved to other lands. To the best of your knowledge, no witnesses survived to tell the tale of your part in the now-infamous catastrophe. You hope...

11. The last of your kind: You're not human, elf, or anything else that anybody recognizes. As far as you know, you're from an entire race of others like yourself, but you are apparently the last of your kind. All you know of your past is that as a baby you were left on the doorstep of the orphanarium...

12. Shunned for bizarre religious beliefs: You are a member of a fringe cult whose beliefs and practices creep out normal folk. If the locals find out about your beliefs, they’ll form a mob armed with torches and pitchforks and run you out of town.

13. Traumatized ex-soldier: You are a grizzled veteran, and your military experiences have left you physically and emotionally scarred. Work with the DM to determine how your physical and emotional trauma presents itself.

14. Man-beast: You are an uplifted simian, dog, cat, or some other common animal. You’re mostly anthropomorphic, but your appearance clearly gives away your origins (ape face, snout, heavy body hair/fur, etc.). You may be of any human character class. You’re unsure of your origins; all you remember is that you were part of an enslaved work/military detail and escaped into the wilderness.

15. Fleeing the legacy of an evil family: You don't share your real family name because your family is renowned throughout the realm for its disturbingly evil doings. If the locals find out who you really are, they’ll form a mob armed with torches and pitchforks and hang you from the nearest tree.

16. Haunted by a ghost: You are haunted by the ghost of a former fellow adventurer, friend, or family member who believes his/her death was your fault. The apparition cannot physically affect you, and no one else is able to see or hear it. Which begs the question: is it real? Or are you just crazy?

17. Hunted for a crime you didn't commit: You are wanted by authorities across the realm for your heinous crimes... even though you've not committed any. There's also a large bounty on your head, and you're worth more dead than you are alive. If the locals find out who you really are, they’ll turn you in for the reward.

18. And what’s your name?: You believe that anything with a proper name is capable of thought and speech. You regularly have conversations with inanimate objects. Oddly (to others, at least – it seems perfectly normal to you) you occasionally seem to be able to get useful, actionable information from them. (Thanks to Craig and "Mr. Clang.")

19. “I'm from Earth’s future.”: You are from a world of advanced technology, where you were a test subject for a prototype time/trans-dimensional/quantum tunnel machine. You ended up... here. You're assuming the machine worked, and this is the past/another dimension/an alternate universe.

20. “I'm from Earth’s past.”: You are from 17th- or 18th-century Earth, and you have no idea how you ended up... here.

21. The man who fell from the sky: You are a stranger from a strange land: a distant world, a different dimension, whatever. Your home world exploded/dimension collapsed/whatever ceased to be; but instead of being destroyed you literally fell into the World. (You still have the bruised hip to prove it.) You are – for the most part – anthropomorphic, although clearly not of a race that “belongs” here. Strangely, your native language is very similar to one already spoken in the World. (You may choose the language – your version sounds like an archaic dialect of that language. Any additional languages you speak are from your own world/dimension/whatever and are useless in the World. Or are they?)

22. Escaped experiment: You have no memories prior to 1d3 days ago. You awoke (roll a d6):
1-2: On a dusty shelf as a gray cube; your body formed in about 30 minutes
3-4: Fully grown, in a vat of mustard-colored goo
5-6: Fully grown, strapped to a metal table
Events of that day are a blur, but you vaguely recall fleeing from some sort of laboratory complex into the wilderness...

23. Your body is not your own: You are an escapee from an Alchemite facility, where your brain was removed from your body and kept in a jar. You escaped by "hijacking" the mind of one of their human/demi-human/humanoid servitors, and are now hunted by their agents. Your body’s original owner is still trapped within you, and can do nothing except occasionally use your voice when you are drunk, asleep, or at other times when your willpower is lessened.

24. Reborn from dead hero: The sages have declared that you are the spirit of an ancient hero, reborn, and that you are destined to lead the people to freedom/victory/the Promised Land. You are revered in your homeland and within certain religious circles.

25. Reborn from dead villain: The sages have declared that you are the spirit of an ancient evil, reborn, and that you are destined to lead the people to utter destruction. You are hated and feared in your homeland and within certain religious circles.

26. Shamed by cowardice: You found yourself at the Crossroads of Destiny, where your action alone would decide the fate of an entire nation. Unfortunately, you didn't have the intestinal fortitude to get the job done, and your single moment of self-serving cowardice has led to you being labeled an "arch-traitor." Your name is now used throughout the World as a household euphemism for cowards and cowardly behavior.

27. Fleeing failed marriage w/kids: You took to a life of adventure to escape your nagging wife, her beastly mother, and your five monstrous offspring (none of whom – oddly enough – bear the slightest resemblance to you). Death in the maw of a purple worm is far preferable to the life you left behind. Her mother has hired agents to find you and bring you back home, where you belong.

28. Runaway aristocrat: You are a member of a prominent noble family, but you have no interest in living the life of an aristocrat. Your family has sent agents to find you and bring you home, where you belong.

29. Fleeing an arranged marriage: You have taken to a life of adventure in an attempt to escape an arranged marriage. Both your family and that of your prospective spouse have sent agents to find you and bring you to the altar, where you belong.

30. Branded as a witch: 3d30 days ago, a group of witch hunters came to your village, looking for you! Your friends wouldn't defend you, and your family had their doubts as well. You were branded on the forearm with a mark identifying you across the realm as a witch. Fortunately, you managed an escape before the witch hunters could give you a “trial” and terminal hot-foot, and now you're hunted by the Inquisition and their nefarious agents who want to put you on a burning pyre, where you belong.

31. Deposed ruler: You are the “Butcher of [insert homeland here],” former dictator-for-life of that beleaguered city-state. You managed to escape a bloody coup, but you are hunted by agents of the ruling junta out of fear that you'll return and attempt to recover your position of power, where you believe you belong.

32. Twin sibling is a force for evil: You have an identical twin that is so corrupt and malicious that they have been exiled from your homeland for their evil ways. Folks often mistake you for them, much to your dismay.

33. Yandolian refugee: You are a refugee from the Desert of Yando; you escaped a Yandolian slave pit, and the slave masters have sent their agents to “collect” you. Create a Mutant Future character (of the fighter class and with hit points generated per the rules later), equipped normally, but you also have two randomly rolled Technological Artifacts. (Do not roll on the PC’s Items of Interest table.)

34. Carcosan wanderer: You were caught up in the flux of some errant sorcery and mystically transported to this world; you have no idea how to get back to your own. Create a Carcosa character, equipped normally, but you also have a Space Alien pistol with 1d100 charges remaining in its power cell. (Do not roll on the PC’s Items of Interest table.)

35. Body thief: This body isn’t yours; you stole it. You’re not sure how: 2d30 days ago you just suddenly became aware that you were, but that you had no physical form. You jumped into the nearest one you could find and fled the scene (of some sort of ritual or experiment). The body’s owner wants it back, and he and his friends are actively searching for it.

36. Buddy the Elf: You were raised by elves as an elf. Although in your mid-30’s, you only recently (and traumatically) discovered that you’re really a human. You’re on a quest to find your real parents. Your character class is elf, but you have none of the special abilities of that class.

37. Action movie hero: You’re the hero of an 80’s action movie. You pursued your arch-nemesis through a weird swirling vortex in his underground/mountain-top stronghold and ended up here. You’re armed with a big gun (that never runs out of bullets, except when facing aforementioned arch-nemesis) and a never-ending supply of cheesy one-liners. (Needless to say, your class is fighter and your alignment is lawful. Do not roll on the PC’s Items of Interest table.)

38. Action movie villain: You’re the villain of an 80’s action movie. Your goody-two-shoes arch-nemesis forced you to use an untested dimensional portal generator in your underground/mountain-top stronghold and you ended up here. You’re armed with a big gun (that never runs out of bullets, except when facing aforementioned arch-nemesis), no measurable sense of humor, and an evil streak as wide as the Milky Way. (Your class is fighter and your alignment is chaotic. Do not roll on the PC’s Items of Interest table.)

39. Flower child: You’re a 60’s Earth hippy. You were hanging out in your VW van, smoking some pot and listening to Leonard Nimoy ‘s groovy “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” when you passed out. You awoke (3d30 days ago) and found yourself here (without the van, et al.). You’re still not totally convinced that this isn’t all some sort of bad trip resulting from that last half-tab of LSD and your latest reading of The Lord of the Rings. (Dwarves and elves? C’mon! This can’t be real…) You seemed a natural fit for the magic user class. At least that’s what that dude in the trippy blue robes said before he taught you a couple far-out tricks.

40. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya…”: You have an unresolved vendetta that drives you. Whether it’s the six-fingered man that killed your father, or the one-armed man that murdered your wife, or some other crippled criminal or malformed malefactor that laid low one of your loved ones, you’re always on the lookout for that person so that you can exact your revenge. You even know exactly what you’re going to say to that person when you find them – and quote it to others ad nauseum.

41. “I thought you were dead.”: No matter where you go, people (humans, demi-humans, even humanoids – it doesn’t matter) say this to you. It seems that everyone knows your name (although the legends to which it’s ascribed vary widely and seldom have anything to do with your actual feats – or lack thereof) and they all think you’ve been previously inhumed. Who’s spreading these false legends about you? Perhaps more importantly, who’s spreading them with the belief that you’re no longer among the living?

42. “Rip Van Who?”: You fell asleep under a tree outside town – 1d6 x 100 years ago. You woke up 1d12 days ago, the same age as when you fell asleep – but with a long beard (sucks, if you’re a female) and toe- and fingernails. Everyone you knew is now long dead. You’re having a tough time adjusting to this new era, and seem to start most of your sentences off with: “Back in my day…”

43. Reincarnated and shunned: You were killed in an accident 2d30 days ago. Your friends and family raised enough money to have a travelling wizard cast reincarnation on your corpse. But when they saw what you’d been turned into, they and the rest of your community ostracized you. Roll on the reincarnation table to see what you were reincarnated as.

44. “I was a god, once…”: You were once revered as a deity or demigod. However, belief in you has waned to the point where no one worships you anymore; your temples and shrines have all fallen to ruin. As a result, you have become mortal and are no longer welcome in Valhalla or wherever your fellow gods hang out. You still recall and aspire to return to your days as a benevolent/uncaring/angry god, when people worshipped the ground upon which you walked. You will ascend again! All you need is a few faithful followers…

45. “Your grandfather slept with what?”: Although it’s supposedly impossible, your grandfather, umm… had an intimate relationship with some sort of monster or humanoid. The DM will choose one for you, and you have some noticeable physical trait – scaly skin; unnaturally thick body hair; a greenish, slimy complexion; a small horn in the center of your forehead; etc. – that belies your screwed up family tree but has no mechanical effect in the game. (It does make for interesting tavern conversation, though. Or maybe it’s just best to never talk about it…)

46. One of the living impaired: You died in an accident or from some illness, but due to stray necromantic magicks, you arose a few nights later as a zombie. Unlike most zombies, you retained your intellect and personality. Your body is preserved at the point of decay 1d3+2 days after death, and you smell strongly of funerary incense and perfumes, with a slight odor of decay lurking beneath. You are otherwise normal, except that you do not eat, drink, sleep, breathe, etc. You are also immune to disease and toxins. You do not heal damage, however; you must be repaired with whatever materials you can find to do the job. (Doing so takes the same time as normal healing.) You are immune to sleep, charm, cure wounds, etc. Your CHA score is treated as 6 when dealing with humans and demi-humans.

47. Child prodigy: You are a youth of your race (-2 STR and CON, +2 DEX and CHA) but mature beyond your years, and otherwise normal. And probably more than a little annoying – few people like a precocious kid.

48. “I’m getting too old for this shit.”: You are an elder of your race (-2 STR and CON, +2 INT and WIS) but still fit and active, and otherwise normal. And probably more than a little annoying – few people like a grumpy old fart.

49. “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”: You pretend to be one class; but in reality, you’re another. You have your reasons for doing so: you’re a thief hiding out from the authorities/the mob, a fighter scouting ahead for his lord, whatever. Regardless of the reason behind it, it’s imperative that you keep up the masquerade. To let the veil drop for even an instant could prove fatal to yourself or someone else important to you.

50. Simulacrum: You were created as a simulacrum of a powerful warlock. However, you came into existence with your own personality. Not content to wait around for him to skin-ride you or do whatever else he had planned for you, you got the heck out of there as soon as you could. You know he’s looking for you and it’s best to lay low, but posing as him to use his clout and connections could provide all sorts of benefits… (Your class is magic user.)

It's cobbled together from some of my own entries, as well as some from these sources:
Thanks to the original posters for such great ideas!!!

. . . . .

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On This Day, Thirty Years Ago

That's the day my Number One Hobby really began for me, starting with this:

(Last photo borrowed from gamehermit.com)

Here's hoping your holiday marks as wonderful a beginning for you, as well.

. . . . .

Friday, December 16, 2011

Growing Up Geeky, Part III: D&D and Me

[This is the third part of my autobiographical "Growing Up Geeky" series - click to read "Part I: Prehistory" and "Part II: The Early Years." (I know: the second half of the "Part II" post is missing. I've skipped ahead a bit here, but rest assured: the Star Wars/Atari-years post will be here - some day.)]

A recent post at Grognardia got me thinking about my first days in the hobby. As I get older, I find I have more trouble remembering things, especially the days of my youth. Therefore, I thought it might be a good idea to get this portion of the "Growing Up Geeky" series down - before I lose the memories all together. So, to that end, here's a meandering piece of personal history/nostalgia expanded from my comments on James' blog post:

As with most aspects of my childhood (growing up as a nerd in rural NY) I learned to role play (Dungeons and Dragons, of course) in a vacuum. I was raised in farm country, several miles from the nearest town. I had friends, but they lived in town, so I couldn't just hop on my bike and go over to their houses (and vice versa) whenever I wanted to hang out. Trips to each others' houses were planned excursions, and were becoming more infrequent by the beginning of the 1980's. (This infrequency was partially due to growing older, but also partially my fault, as after being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in December of 1980, I'd suddenly become inexplicably uncomfortable spending the night at my best friend's house. To this day, I can't explain it...)

I had no other friends nearby, as all of the kids who lived closer to me were just that: "kids." (One just didn't consort with a schoolmate more than a grade - two at most - lower than oneself. That sort of thing was simply bad form.)

The seclusion wasn't something I gave much thought to, however. I'd been raised with it, and I'd become very adept at keeping myself entertained. Furthermore, I had my nephew, John, to keep me company on a regular basis through the later 70's and early 80's. Although I call my friend Brian Z. my "best friend," the truth of the matter is that John was my best friend through most of my teens. He spent many summers at my house, and my brother and his family moved next door to us sometime around or shortly before 1980, IIRC, after which I saw John even more frequently. We basically grew up together.

Unfortunately, my memory of 1980 and the surrounding years has grown extremely fuzzy, so exact dates are impossible to determine. For a long time, I had thought that I'd been introduced to role playing games in 1980, but I've realized in recent years that it must have actually been 1981.

And, as I've mentioned before, my first hobby-related possession wasn't a set of D&D rules. Or any other role-playing game rules, for that matter. No, my first hobby-related possession was a D&D module: A3, "Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords."

It was originally bought as a birthday present for a friend. But my mother was curious what "this D&D thing" was all about, so before gift wrapping it she opened it and read it with my nephew and myself. Or tried to read it. I still recall finding it to be full of bizarre, unfamiliar terms and acronyms - kind of like reading a tech manual for a SR-71 or something. But it piqued my interest, and she asked if I wanted to keep it and we'd get my friend something else. (That "something else" turned out to be a "Sick" magazine that had something to do with Star Wars. I know: it's nowhere near as nice a gift. He wasn't that close a friend. :P)

Based on the fact that the aforementioned friend's birthday was in December, and that - according to the Acaeum - A3 was published in 1981, I'm guessing the date of this event was late November or early December of 1981. That crunches the timeline I'd originally envisioned for my entry into the hobby, which I'd thought had run from December 1980 to Christmas of '81. But those years have blurred with the haze of time and age, and I perceived the passage of time far differently as a youth than I do now. The days passed more slowly, then; a month then is like six months now.

Anyway, that enigmatic orange-yellow-covered book with its wonderful maps and imagination-sparking illustrations was my first step into the world of D&D. Mind you, it wasn't the first time I'd heard of the game. I'd seen and been moderately intrigued by the books in KayBee Toys in Riverside Mall*. (I was especially enthralled by the cover of Eldritch Wizardry - go figure.) So I'd known about the game for some time; it had been on my radar, but wasn't something I had any interest in.

For some reason I'll never fully comprehend, my demeanor toward the game changed drastically around mid- to late 1981. With the simple discovery that the aforementioned friend's older brother and his friends (who would have been the "freaks" if my life at that time were an episode of Freaks & Geeks) played the game, I suddenly found my interest in it blossoming. I imagine this was partially fueled by media hype surrounding D&D (the new "fad" was - it seemed - forever appearing in various news outlets back in the day), by the ever-growing line of products for the game, by the growing buzz surrounding the fantasy genre - and probably more than a little by my Hobbit-loving 8th-grade English teacher.

Shortly thereafter - according to the revised timeline - I discovered that the local lawn and garden supply/toy store (yes, they sold toys next to the riding mowers) sold the yellow-box series of Grenadier miniatures for D&D. I bought (read as: coerced my mother into buying for me) my second piece of D&D paraphernalia there: the "Specialists" boxed set.

As Christmas approached, I began to think more and more about the game. I envisioned my character (before I knew that term, as it pertains to the hobby) - the paladin from the Grenadier set - descending into a valley on a narrow path through a dense forest full of giant mushrooms**, a beautiful princess at his side as he used his gleaming sword to hew his way down the vine-choked stones. He was an elf prince himself, called "Moordow."

So, when C-Day came, it seemed like a no-brainer that D&D would be nestled under the tree. I say "seemed like" because it wasn't an unheard-of occurrence to not get what one wanted most for Christmas. Parental concern and other factors could always trump youthful desire, and such statements as "You'll shoot your eye out!" or "You'll become a Satanist!" could easily supersede a child's "I want that!" Sure enough, though, it was there - in the form of a lurid pink box bearing a brilliant Erol Otus cover.

I spent a good portion of the following days delving into the red rule book that lay within, whose fantastical illustrations made most of those in "Aerie..." look mundane by comparison. I devoured the rules, and was ready to get to playing within a few days. (It would have been less, but I also received Milton Bradley's "Dark Tower" that year, and it was a serious contender for my post-Christmas attention.)

My friend Brian had also gotten a D&D box set for Christmas, and during the Christmas break we planned for him to come over to my house so we could play our first game. I think it was either shortly before his arrival that day or the day before that my nephew and I rolled up our first characters. (I don't recall Brian being there, although it's possible my hazy memory has failed me yet again.) We made a pair each, and Moordow was of course my first.

When Brian came over, it was agreed that he'd be the Dungeon Master, as he'd read B2, "The Keep on the Borderlands" - the adventure module that had also come in that lurid pink box - and I had not. (It wasn't until many many years later that I was comfortable running prefab modules. I always made my own - I think I was afraid of screwing something up if I tried to run someone else's material.) Our four characters, and two of Brian's, embarked on their first adventure...

And it was an abysmal failure.

The newness of the idea of role playing, Brian's lack of familiarity with the role of the DM, and our uncertainty about what our characters should be doing led to the game being an awkward exercise in theft, burglary, and murder, as our characters robbed and looted everyone in the Keep. It would be several weeks before I read the module myself and discovered that we were intended to go outside the Keep and kill things... (I also think that Brian's version of the rules were part of the problem he faced as DM: he had been given the Holmes' basic set, and I did not realize at the time that it differed so fundamentally from my Moldvay set. I'm sure this contributed to the challenge he faced as first-time DM.)

We abandoned our first session of D&D after a few encounters, slightly disillusioned (at least in my case), and opted instead - I think - to play Dark Tower. But it didn't matter. My imagination had been ignited, and it would take more than a bad initial game session to deter me from enjoying the Hell out of the game. Subsequent sessions with just my nephew and myself - with me as DM/co-player, running "modules" of my own creation - fared far better.

My foray into D&D that began with an alien "adventure module" could have ended if that book had gone to its intended owner. It could have ended if I'd not received the game for Christmas. It could have ended after an initial game session of criminal mayhem.

Despite all of these possibilities, it blossomed into a lifelong hobby...

[More to come in the next post in the series: Growing Up Geeky, Part IV: The TSR Years.]

(*Ah, Riverside. Gods, how I miss that place. It was our first mall. And my first mall. So many of my late-70's childhood memories spring from within its walls. The mere mention of its name brings to mind a flood of memories: from trekking up and down its brown-tiled floors - up ramps and down stairs, past fountains and the giant clock; to lurking in Kay Bee Toys while my mother conducted her business in Ormonds, Barbara Moss, or some other woman's clothing store I couldn't stand to be in; to choosing an iron-on transfer to be steamed onto a t-shirt while we waited in Montgomery Ward (Yes, kids: transfers and tees used to come separately, and you could mix and match at will. Those were the days!); to playing my first video games in the video arcade; to taking the leisurely stroll the length of the mall, which seemed to take hours, as we shopped and window shopped, stopping at the near-halfway point to eat at Burger King. The mall was laid out in one long strip, and the concept of the food court had not reached this area prior to the mall being designed and built; food establishments were scattered around the place. My favorite was "the pizza place," but it was inconveniently located at one end, on one of the entrance wings. Thus, the more centrally located Burger King (before it became "BK" and the king went from a short, cute cartoon character to a creepy "real" person) was the establishment of choice for the lunch break on our Saturday strolls through "The Mall." Riverside was supplanted by a larger, more logically designed mall in 1980, and at the time we all thought the newcomer was better. The Mall died a slow, painful death as a result, and today it has been mostly torn down and replaced by an eyesore of a strip mall. Its rival still stands, but holds far less nostalgic value for me.)

(**I'd equated giant mushrooms with fantasy for many years, long before I'd even seen the cover to B1. In fact, I recall the exact moment when my interest in writing was sparked. It was sixth grade, and the teacher - Mr. King - assigned us a project to write our own piece of fiction. Prior to that moment, I'd never considered that as a possibility. Surely, I'd thought, writers are consummate professionals, and only achieve their status as "Writer" after long years of education and training. But suddenly, I could be a writer. And I would write science-fiction/fantasy. (The two were pretty much synonymous in those days.) In my mind's eye at that very moment, I envisioned vividly a colorful forest of giant mushrooms sprawled out beneath a black blanket dotted with glittering white stars. Yep, giant mushrooms meant fantasy, even then. Maybe it was some lingering Alice in Wonderland influence - although I'd never read that book...)

. . . . .

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Know This Will Destroy My Old-School Geek Cred, But...

I just thought I'd let my readers know that I've succumbed to the Dark Side*:

It's been about 10 years since I last played an MMORPG. WoW brings me back to my days of hunting ratlings for hunks of cheese in The Realm Online and beta testing Everquest. (And somewhat less happily to the days of spending hours chopping wood to build shields to sell for armor and weapons in Ultima Online, which were ultimately looted from my corpse when I was killed by a chicken or hunted and murdered by player-killers like "Lord CrackHead." Now there was a broken game if there ever was one. Ugh.)

(*And it turns out they don't have cookies, but they do have Crunchy Spider** Surprise.)

(**Seriously, I'm loving the game, but the biggest thing I could fault it on is lack of creativity with their monsters. Seems like no matter what race I've tried, it always comes down to fighting spiders sooner or later...)

. . . . .

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Watch Out: I Now Have Access to Third Level Spells!

I Am A:

Chaotic Neutral Human Sorcerer (5th Level)

Ability Scores:

Chaotic Neutral A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn't strive to protect others' freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it. Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society's restrictions and a do-gooder's zeal. However, chaotic neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Note: While I think much of this was spot on, I have to disagree with the class choice. I really think it should have been Wizard, not Sorcerer. Given that I leaned toward a studying component any time a question had one, I'm a bit surprised Sorcerer came up...

. . . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My 4E Stormbringer character sheets - let me show you them

Back to a happier topic than my potential case of clinical depression: Stormbringer.

Still no major discovery in the "Bizarre Case of the Mismatched Rule Books." (Although my strong leaning is toward my newer copy being a crappy POD reprint.) But here for you enjoyment are a couple of slightly modified* Stormbringer 4E character sheet replicas - one for your anti-heroes, another for your anti-heroines:

Unisex character sheet back:
*The main change being the addition of the hit locations section - I plan on using the hit location rules from Cthulhu Now.
. . . . .

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"And when everything's special, nothing will be..."

Okay, that's not the exact quote (which would be - I believe: "And when everyone's special, no one will be.")

But it fits the mood, so I'm going to run with it.

I've been thinking lately. Well, maybe "thinking" is too strong a way to describe it. "Subconsciously ruminating until the feelings bubbled through to my conscious thought process" might be a better way to put it. However you package it, the end result is this realization:

Nothing seems fun anymore.

It just seems that the deluge of over-saturation provided by the internet and the massive beast that is entertainment media has washed out the feelings of joy and/or excitement that I used to get from the things I love, be it gaming or genre media. There's just so much stuff out there, it no longer feels special like it once did. I don't get excited anymore at the prospect of something new coming along in the pastimes I once loved. Worse, I often approach gaming sessions with what could better be described as anxiety or dread than anticipation.

Maybe it's just my old age. I've just recently passed the 45-year mark, and I know I'm not the wide-eyed kid I was once, no matter how hard I try to keep that inner child alive. It seems like it's my destiny to become a jaded cynic, and it would just be easier to give up than to keep fighting it.

Maybe it's life in general. Things have been pretty stressful these last few years. I feel like I've been struggling just to keep my head (and my family's heads) above water, enduring seemingly endless worry over bills, concerns about everyone's physical and mental health, turbulence in the workplace, and what feels like incessant waves of people who - regardless of my own calm and relatively harmless nature - keep trying to make my life miserable, whether intentionally or otherwise.

Maybe it's my inability to find friends. I've been struggling for quite some time to find new blood to re-energize my (and my fiancee's) social life. But man, it seems like most of my effort to that end has resulted in nothing but a disappointing waste of time and energy. In my experience, around here it's next to impossible to find people whose hobbies and interests are anything like ours. I can't believe that we're surrounded by so many people that are mind-numbingly mundane. On the very rare occasion that we have found new potential friends, they've generally turned out to be some combination of: controlling, antisocial, mean, rude, persistently negative, socially retarded, divisive, intolerant, self-absorbed, and/or judgmental.

(I know the preceding is hard to believe, and that by saying what I've just said I come across as some sort of elitist jackass. Surely, you may think, you're the one who's broken in this scenario. But take, for example, my place of work - a microcosm of my larger world: I've been working for just shy of 10 years at the same job, and I have made no friends from among my coworkers. Even the IT people, with whom I should logically have at least something in common, have been among the most mundane, uninteresting (and uninterested) people I've ever met. That stereotype of the IT guy/girl being a geek, enthusiastically interested in geek-stuff? Yeah, right. I have a lava lamp on my desk and I drive a New Beetle; these two items alone make me a subject of interest among the people where I work. How sad/scary is that? I'm afraid to even mention that I game - they might put me under glass and charge admission for others to look at me.)

So, yeah, maybe it's not that nothing's special anymore. Maybe it is just me/my life (dis)coloring my perspective. Or maybe it's some combination of the two...

Maybe, to misquote another movie:

"My life needs an enema!"

(It may not matter, because - according to some folks I know - the test of the Emergency Broadcast System that's scheduled to occur in 15 minutes is part of an Obama-led leftist agenda that will result in the US being exposed to attack by Islamic terrorists and the Chinese. I kid you not - these are the sort of people that congregate in my life...)

. . . . .

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stormbringer 4th Edition - WTF?

So, I find myself with another question for my readers. First, some background:

One of my favorite RPG books is the 4th edition (1990) rule book for Chaosium's Stormbringer. I've had my copy since around 1991 or '92, and I had a really good run of game sessions with my friend Terry (some of which I've previously mentioned in other posts) back in the early 90's. The book saw a fair amount of use, but I never could bring myself to detach the large fold-out map from the rear of the book. To this day, my book is in great condition, map still firmly attached.

Recently, I've found myself longing to run some Stormbringer for my fiancee, and the urge to pull out that map has been strong. In the name of having my cake and eating it, too, I figured I'd purchase a used copy of the 4E rule book on Amazon. They go fairly cheap in good condition, and I thought it'd be worth the $20 or so even if all I got out of the deal was the map.

So, my new-used Stormbringer 4E book arrived in the mail today....

And no map. I know what you're thinking: Some previous owner pulled the map - you should have been prepared for that. Well, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Fancypants, I was prepared for that. But that's not the case.

No, what appears to be the case is that the newcomer is a completely different printing than my existing book. It has a map, but it's the small, one-page map. Furthermore, the dozen or so rear pages in my book are on ivory paper (while the rest of the book's pages are white), but the newcomer's pages are all on white paper. Also, the newcomer's covers are different - they're textured, kind of like the texture of Fantasy Flight Games' boxes; my existing copy's covers are smooth. And the newcomer's back cover is slightly different - the bulleted copy above the bar code is different, and inside a white box.

I at first assumed that I had a different printing - some sort of Stormbringer 4.5 or something. But the ISBN's are identical, and there's no indication anywhere in or on the book that the newcomer is from a different print run (except for the obvious differences in presentation).

So my question to my oh-so-knowledgeable readers is: What the heck is going on? Did Chaosium do a different printing of this book, sans the excellent fold-out map? Did I just get lucky when I purchased my existing copy? Or, is this newcomer a knock-off? Maybe a print-on-demand copy?

I did a lot of research before picking up the book in an attempt to make sure that there weren't variations of it floating around - I was fairly diligent in this, because I didn't want to end up with the wrong book. Nowhere did I see a reference to multiple printings, so now I'm wondering if I should feel poorly used by the seller.

Moreover, I'm, afraid that if I drop any more money on other copies, I'll still fail to get the map. (At this point, I'm seriously considering just picking up a copy of the Elric! board game to plunder it for its color version of the Young Kngdoms map...)

Anybody out there able to shed light on this?

. . . . .

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Argh!!! Save v. Exploding Cranium or Die! (A Plea for Help)

I think I'm about to blow the roll... goggles down! Maybe someone with a better memory than myself can help me keep my brains from being splashed all over the furniture:

Some time ago (meaning more than a week but less than a year) I was perusing a fellow blogger's posts and came across a nifty table of (I think) 30 strange/odd/unique character back stories or origins. Amongst these was one along the lines of "your character's body is not your own" or "you stole the body you're currently in." I had the page bookmarked, but semi-recently had to reformat my PC and forgot to save my bookmarks. (D'oh!) I've spent the better part of the last three hours exercising my expert Google Fu in a desperate search for the page, but to absolutely no avail...

Does this ring a bell with anybody? Please say it does. My fiancee will appreciate it when she doesn't have to try to scrub grey matter out of the sofa cushions.

Edit: Thanks to Art Braune, the half-remembered post has been found at Like Being Read To From Dictionaries. Thanks, Art!

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Look - I Participated in an Internet Meme!

Mark the date - I usually avoid these things like the plague. But I just had to know how I'd do at The World's Hardest Gary Gygax Quiz. (First, it's a quiz... on the internets. Second, it's a quiz... on the internets... about Gygax. Damn you, blog of holding.) And, surprisingly, I did better than 50%. I guess all of those hours spent reading Grognardia finally proved useful... er, sort of.

Chris took the Hardest Gary Gygax Quiz in the World and got 70%!

You are a Gary Gygax Champion. If knowledge of the minutiae of Gary Gygax's life translated to political power, you would be the satrap of a continent-sized province, owing allegiance to no one (except maybe that Grognardia guy).

Paladin Code: You completed this quiz without using Google.

Average scores for this SUPER HARD QUIZ are 77% for people who used Google and 48% for people who did not, so you did really well.
(How can you get less than 100% when you use Google to cheat?? Sounds like 23% of Google users need to spend more time at the dojo working on their google-fu.)

[My] Answers:
What's Gary Gygax's birthday? (Hint: IT'S TODAY)
Redacted is correct!

What's Gary Gygax's first name?
Redacted is correct!

Which of these words does NOT appear in the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide?
Redacted is correct! For once, even though Redacted used it, Gygax didn't follow suit.

What does TSR stand for?
Redacted is correct!

What's the name of the planet that contains Greyhawk?
Redacted is correct!

Along with Gary, who was the cofounder of TSR?
Redacted is correct!

Gary Gygax DID NOT write or cowrite rules for which of the following games?
Correct! Redacted was all Redacted.

Gary once worked at what medieval trade?
Redacted is incorrect! Maybe you're thinking of every other nerd ever who Redacted his own Redacted.
(I'm fairly certain I know this - I just can't conjure it right now.)

Which of the following was one of Gary Gygax's D&D PCs?
Incorrect!Redacted is the Redacted in the Redacted.
(I'm kind of ashamed of myself - I really should have gotten this one. But I panicked and my mind went totally blank...)

Gord the Rogue has a barbarian friend. What's his name?
Redacted is incorrect!

Bonus: What's the name of the axe used by Gord the Rogue's barbarian friend?
Redacted is incorrect! But I don't blame you; no one could have gotten this question right.

. . . . .

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Other Other Project

So, the gaming has finally slowed from a trickle to a dead halt.

Partially, this is because I've become extremely disenchanted with the local gaming scene (see comments in my last couple of posts). I'm just not getting any enjoyment from gaming anymore.

But this is also because I've been focused lately on my latest undertaking: my fiancee and I have been working for some months on getting a niche marketing communications agency off the ground. After much prep and planning, yesterday was the official start of business. So (warning: crass commercialism ahead) if you or anyone you know is in the entertainment/writing industry - specifically the horror/sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal/etc. genres - and needs help with their new media marketing or personal branding efforts or website design, please check us out:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dark World Update

Well, since my attempt to earn a few measly cents on my Dark World map went over like a lead balloon, I figured I might as well make the electronic version free. (It was either that or take it down altogether, and I'd rather people got some use out of it than it just sit - unused -on my hard drive.) So, click the preview image below to go to Lulu to download it, if you like:

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Scanning Project: Dunwich? (Call of Cthulhu)

I still remember the moment (although not the date) that I discovered the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. Don't get me wrong: I had been aware of the game for some time, having seen ads for it in a text-only mail-order catalog I had from some now-forgotten source, as well as in my copies of Dragon magazine.

However, by the mid-80's, I wasn't reading Dragon as much as I had a few years earlier - when I didn't even know what the heck a "Cthulhu" was, and had never before heard the name "H.P. Lovecraft." (I'd actually seen the name Cthulhu before I got into the hobby, in a 1979 issue of Starlog. Towards the back of the magazine were a couple of pages devoted to an "upcoming" movie, "Cry of Cthulhu." I paid those pages vary little attention until the middle of the following decade, however.) I didn't discover Lovecraft until 1985, by which point I'd long since forgotten my passing brushes with the Call of Cthulhu RPG. And, although I'd also recently discovered my first horror RPG, the idea of playing a purely Lovecraftian game hadn't occurred to me. (Although, admittedly, much of the material I'd produced for my Chill campaign - which was never played - had a strong weird horror influence, thanks to the Old Gent from Providence.)

(On the other hand, I had always found myself slightly thrilled by the ads for Grenadier's Call of Cthulhu miniatures. I can still vividly recall them, with their dark look and feel, their hardy Indiana Jones-type hero, their cool miniatures for the same and for a scholarly type, and the evocative box art. My induction into Dungeons & Dragons had - as I've mentioned before - been through miniatures, and the painted miniatures and dioramas were my favorite part of any Dragon magazine that featured them. But, even before I knew what they were for, the Grenadier Call of Cthulhu miniature ads superseded these features by far. Sadly, I never managed to find any of these boxes of miniatures back in the day. It wasn't until just last year that I managed to come into ownership of one - the Adventurers set - and I cherish it, beaten and battered as the box is.)

Between college classes, circa 1986(?), I wandered into the local B. Dalton bookstore (back when the local mall actually had two bookstores, which is two more than it's had for the last 15 years or so; this speaks volumes about the area in which I live) as I made my usual rounds: hit the bookstores and peruse their science fiction/fantasy and RPG sections, and hit the toy store and peruse its game section (back then, you still had a fair chance of locating RPG's in KayBee Toys).

The day in question, I wandered to the back right corner of the store and found the usual (the contents of which I don't recall exactly, but were likely mostly composed of various D&D rule books and supplements). I was about to leave, as I hadn't expected much more, when I glanced up at the top shelf, which I'd previously neglected. There sat a hardcover book, noticeably taller then all of the D&D books, and featuring a dark cover with the words "Call of Cthulhu" standing out in striking yellow contrast. My heart leaped as I snatched the book down and began leafing through it.

I remember the accommodating feel of the ivory pages, the evocative black-and-white artwork - and then, the page that sold me on the book: one of the full-color plates, a ghoul climbing from a pit:

Upon seeing this illustration, I was immediately transported back to one of my first Lovecraft readings, "Pickman's Model." More page flipping yielded more and more moving artwork, including the disturbing "Groglin Vampire":

I don't recall much after my initial discovery/re-acquaintance, except for spending that night and the several after it devouring the game. I fell in love with the game that day, a love that continues even now. (I have two copies of that book now, which are the pride and joy of my gaming collection, along with a pristine copy of the boxed set from the same edition. These days, when I think of the game, it's the excellent cover of that Games Workshop edition that immediately springs to mind.)

It wasn't until my role playing renaissance of the late 80's that I actually got to run a game of Call of Cthulhu. Initially, I was intimidated by the game; not by the rules themselves, but by the setting. Primarily, the problem was that I felt the need to run it in its default 1920's setting, but was utterly daunted by the prospect of running a "historical" game. (The third-edition core rule book, which is what I had purchased, had yet to include specific rules for running the game in other eras. Current editions include the basics needed to run the game in the 1890's and modern day, as well as the 20's. Back in the day, however, these eras required a little home brewing, or the Gaslight and Cthulhu Now handbooks, respectively.)

My inability to run a game, however, didn't preclude me from making materials for it. I was a map-making fiend for much of the mid-to-late-80's (and into the 90's - I've lost much of that creative juice over the last decade, however) and after my Top Secret phase of the mid-80's I turned to horror. I began making maps of churches, graveyards, crypts, and old houses, and their environs, as well as entire towns. My second town map was my spin on Arkham (I'll post that later), but my first - posted here - was my take on Dunwich. Mind you, my Dunwich lacked the decrepit, backwoods New England vibe of Lovecraft's squalid little hamlet. Instead, it was more West Coast - probably due to it being as heavily influenced by the movie "Fright Night" as much as it was by Lovecraft:

This map saw play twice. The first time was in my home-brew Top Secret/Villains & Vigilantes/Chill mash-up. With a plot that was also liberally lifted from the aforementioned horror flick, and heroes that were more like super-heroes, the game I ran for my nephew (and played in, just as I had in all of our D&D and Top Secret games) was a blast, as our agents hunted down and terminated with extreme prejudice Mr. Jerry Dandridge, vampire.

My Dunwich map didn't see use again until 1989 (IIRC), when it was featured in my very first attempt to run Call of Cthulhu. Still nervous about the historical nature of the setting, I nonetheless resolved to run it for my new game group, as we were knee-deep in horror role-playing. The scenario found a trio of intrepid Investigators (Call of Cthulhu's name for player characters, for those not in the know) looking into disappearances in the town.

I'd recently read Lovecraft's "Lurking Fear," and was struck by the mental images many of the scenes in that story had conjured for me. In particular, the scene where the narrator spends the night (if only partially) in the old Martense mansion - and loses his big, strong bodyguards to lurking terrors - stuck in my mind, and I labored to build a scenario that would find my players' characters in a similar predicament.

Of course, being players, they didn't act as I'd hoped: their characters didn't opt to spend the night in the mansion, which is featured prominently on the map. (cough-cough-bastards!-cough) Instead, they staked out the mansion from the "safety" of their car on the street outside. Despite their attempts to derail the sanity chiseling I'd planned for them, they were compelled to follow a suspicious dark shape into the sewers after it had attacked their car in the moonlight. (Thus the sewer plans on the back side of the map, added years after its initial creation.) The trail led them into a series of tight, crudely dug passages (thank you, Martense family!), and - ultimately - to the larder of a pack of ghouls. Much sanity, blood, and spent brass was spilt upon the earthen floor of that chamber.

To this very day, the atmosphere of that session has got to be one of the most memorable of any game I've ever played. It cemented my love for Call of Cthulhu.

I've since run several sessions of Call of Cthulhu, and I've found that -with the proper players, people willing to immerse themselves in the role of everyday people swept up by nightmarish winds - it invariably produces some of the most memorable "this one time, in a game" stories for those involved.

I find Call of Cthulhu to be one of those rare RPG gems: a game system that is fully functional, flexible, and - best of all - stays out of the way when it's not needed. Too many games force their way into game play, whether in the name of expanded functionality, player empowerment, enhanced story, or whatever. Not so, Call of Cthulhu. The game does what it needs to - no more and no less. I find it to be a brilliant piece of RPG design, an opinion testified to by the fact that its five (soon to be six - yay!) subsequent editions have only made the most minor of changes to their predecessors.

Now, if I could just get someone else to run a game of Call of Cthulhu for me...

. . . . .

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Scurvy Scallywag Saturday

Ever wonder what sort of pirate ye'd be? Well, wonder no more, ya' scurvy dog - thanks to this little quiz, yer wonderin' days be over!

Not that I ever doubted it, but in case yer wonderin': I be yer Cap'n:
Some men and women are born great, some achieve greatness and some slit the throats of any scalawag who stands between them and unlimited power. You never met a man - or woman - you couldn't eviscerate. You are the definitive Man of Action, the CEO of the Seven Seas, Lee Iacocca in a blousy shirt and drawstring-fly pants. You're mission-oriented, and if anyone gets in the way, that's his problem, now isn't? Your buckle was swashed long ago and you have never been so sure of anything as your ability to bend everyone to your will. You will call anyone out and cut off his head if he shows any sign of taking you on or backing down. If one of your lieutenants shows an overly developed sense of ambition he may find more suitable accommodations in Davy Jones' locker. That is, of course, IF you notice him. You tend to be self absorbed - a weakness that may keep you from seeing enemies where they are and imagining them where they are not.

What's Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site.

"Self-absorbed," says ye? "Keel haul the lubber!" says I!


. . . . .

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hot Elf Chicks with Swords!

Taking a cue from James at The Underdark Gazette, here's a post with the sole intention of drawing folks to the OSR blogosphere. It's a slice of sheer internet marketing brilliance: use hot elf chicks to lure Google (and presumably other) searchers to our little neck of the woods.

So, as promised, I present a couple of elf chicks with swords:

I've decided to take James' idea just a step further, though, and use this post to stack the keyword deck, so to speak. After all, the idea of drawing folks to suckle at the large supple white breasts of the OSR really is something that even Charlie Sheen should be willing to spill a little tiger blood over, don't you think? So what if it means talking about posting sexy pics of naked elf girls? It's just a little healthy adult entertainment - nothing kinky. And you won't find videos of elf girl-on-girl action (nothing bisexual, just good, old-fashioned bi-winning!) or dwarf women with big butts here; just good, clean stuff that even Megan Fox would be proud to sit with Justin Bieber and read while they listen to Lady Gaga. There's no need to have a Mel Gibson moment. Oh, and who knows - maybe some day the OSR will expand to include Android and iPhone apps and free ringtones. It could happen...

Yep, that's the OSR.

If you just found us via your favorite search engine:

Welcome! Okay, so you probably didn't find what you were looking for, but since you're here you might as well take a look at all the great things the OSR has to offer. Take a look at the blog roll over there on the right - it's full of great gaming blogs, each in itself chock full of brilliant ideas from some really imaginative and creative people. And it's growing daily. (And we even have our own porn stars.)

So take a break from your search for porn or entertainment news or free stuff for your smartphone and go, explore. The rest will still be there when you get back...

(It's too bad James' idea didn't fall closer to the end of the month because it occurs to me that this would be a great April Fool's post. Oh, well - I'll just have to come up with something else for that special day.)

[Edit: BTW, it should be noted that I normally avoid internet - especially OSR - memes like the plague. But this one was just too good to pass up!]

. . . . .

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Captcha-Inspired Henchmen (Order of the D30)

Sorry, I just couldn't stop at 30. Here's another list of misfitted minions:
  1. Loghfu - He's deadly when wielding firewood.
  2. Heetmed - He's a little dyslexic and a lot dumb.
  3. Obulent - What? It's a perfectly promulent name.
  4. Nutjahb - He's not crazy - his mother had him tested.
  5. Prias - Between meals, he can walk twice as far as any other henchmen.
  6. Cherrip - His pants have tears at the top of each pant leg. You don't want to be behind him when he bends over.
  7. Soccineye - He's a little confrontational, and every argument ends the same way.
  8. Ozoan - She's just a little spacey.
  9. Gyrojigli - She's out to prove that there's nothing wrong with heavy belly dancers.
  10. Subhort - If your fellow PC's are cohorts, this is a perfect name for a henchman.
  11. Uriastoses - I don't know what it is or how he caught it, but it doesn't sound like fun. "God, my penis hurts when I urinate."
  12. Biltslo - He's a loyal henchman, but don't let him set up the tent - you'll be waiting all night.
  13. Tredo - He has a "thing" for saplings.
  14. Miasmer - He's surrounded by a perpetual cloud of stink. Keep him away from the pork and beans.
  15. Dismor - Keep him away from any depressed party members, lest they become suicidal. "It'll rain, I shouldn't wonder."
  16. Mingdula - She henches to pay her way through med school, so she can become a brain chirurgeon. "It's right below the cerabulum, which is near the omnipitol globe."
  17. Arthur - He henches to pay for part-time accounting classes. His battle cry: "Not the face! Not the face!"
  18. Seisit - He moonlights as a motivational speaker.
  19. Outamybloni - He's very protective of his lunch meats.
  20. Phertawl - Keep your less chaste party members away from her, unless they want children.
  21. Explorco - He keeps pitching his plan to create an LLC and turn the party into a franchise.
  22. Bermen - Explorco's partner, has plans to expand the franchise until people are so sick of it that they're ready to puke at the mere mention of its name.
  23. Whaman - He has a tendency to repeat the last syllable of each sentence. Be sure to wake him up before you go go.
  24. Tonibazl - She's too old to dress like that, and she has a stalkerific thing for some guy named "Mickey."
  25. Undic - He's an abrasive henchman from France.
  26. Amega - He was once more popular than his father, the Commodore, and his grandfather, Vic, but has since become obsolete in the henching field.
  27. Hemshic - He has some fabulous ideas to modernize the party's "drab and lifeless ensembles."
  28. Ploshie - He always wears furry animal skins, and has a "thing" for others who do the same.
  29. Imaterd - Sorry, my brain froze on this one; believe it or not, that's a letter-for-letter lift from Captcha.
  30. Deend - Dat's it - dat's all she wrote.

. . . . .

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Captcha-Inspired Henchmen (Order of the D30)

I've posted a couple of Captcha-inspired name lists before, and I thought I'd do it again. But I didn't want to post "just another list" - I wanted to make something a little more... entertaining. So, here's a D30 list of henchmen, each with his or her own quirk. Each of these is taken from Captcha's word-verification system, although a few have had a letter or two changed to fit the bill. Hopefully, this will add a little humorous entertainment to your players' next hiring session:

  1. Nomap - Whatever you do, don't let this guy serve as your dungeon mapper.
  2. Slymes - Ask this guy about his collection. Go ahead - I dare ya!
  3. Laziboi - Good luck getting your money's worth out of this guy.
  4. Suxplode - Ask him about his John Belushi imitation.
  5. Perpo - Keep him away from your valuables.
  6. Purvo - Perpo's bro - keep him away from your women.
  7. Scench - Better stock up on those little pine-tree air fresheners before the next dungeon crawl.
  8. Mytopy - The lowest paid wilderness scout in history.
  9. Satedd - She spends a lot of time lying in bed, smoking cigarettes.
  10. Skidwo - The lowest paid wagon driver in history.
  11. Pookase - Don't ask him what he keeps in that stinky wooden box - he just might show you!
  12. Hatearbl - "What's an 'arbl'?" you ask? Get ready for a five-hour diatribe...
  13. Frothlot - The town's token madman. Works for free for anybody that's stupid enough willing to take him on.
  14. Hylybagi - Is there anything that guy can't hide in the folds of his clothes?
  15. Knoknoc - The jokes never cease...
  16. Ablepa - He may be older than dirt, but he can get the job done.
  17. Sincess - Says she a princess whose royal family has been exiled from a foreign land. She just "entertains" to keep food on the table.
  18. Ashnudg - One of those guys who sits in silence, poking the edge of the fire with his toe.
  19. Cutm - Don't cross this guy or you may wake up one morning a little short on genitalia.
  20. Zipnada - She's hot, but the temperature drops to absolute zero when she's nearby.
  21. Cupical - She's always trying to play matchmaker for the party members.
  22. Edgerts - His skin looks a little loose. "Is this better?"
  23. Frigno - Don't make him angry - you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
  24. Nuturt - When he's not complaining about his "discomfort," he's "adjusting" himself.
  25. Dialises - I got nothin'. But the name's just too good not to include in this list.
  26. Bootia - Henchwoman. 'Nuff said.
  27. Crefufio - Was a top interior designer before the bad economy forced him to take up henching.
  28. Dicro - Claims to be well endowed. To prove it, he often tells a story about being adrift in a rowboat with no paddle.
  29. Unksel - Has a hereditary, ubbi-dubbi-ish speech impediment. Ask him about his nsieces and nsephews.
  30. Greenicci - Not sure what she's got, but it's emerald-hued and highly contagious.

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