Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gamemaster's Guidepost: The Three Ring Circus - The Malefactors

+Peter V. Dell'Orto talks about rules-lawyering here and +Mark Langsdorf talks about it here so I guess I'm going to talk a little bit about it myself. First, let me talk about how I run RPGs. I assume (as does anything I write on my blog or when handing out advice to other games on other platforms) that the game you are in is a cooperative venture with your GM and fellow players. The exception to this being games where the GM and player are supposed to be antagonistic (e.g., Paranoia). This is because I've never seen a gaming group last long when mutual agitation and belligerent one-upmanship are the glues that bind it together. It just doesn't work for the same reason that other social bonds cannot be held together with the same negative "social adhesives." On the other hand, I have seen groups function when the players are businesslike in their gaming - they view their hobby as a group effort, but it's not personal. This sort of approach can work as long as the social contract specifically and emphatically spells out exactly what is expected from both player and GM.

Personally, I find the first type of group (antagonistic) repulsive to such a degree that I won't play in any game I feel leans that way and I won't run any player who presents such tendencies (see below for how to deal with such people. I've talked about this before, but it bears repeating: if you are running a game you do not have to play with a rules-lawyer/meta-gamer/munchkin. These are what I consider the three most trouble gaming archetypes (see below for further explanation). If you are a player and you see even a hint of such behavior just quit the game. It's going to save you from irritation later on. In most cases as a player you can't do anything about the RLMGM anyways. What you can do is quit. My personal rule is three sessions. If in three sessions the player hasn't reformed his actions then he's not going to. If the GM doesn't do anything to curtail them within those three sessions he's not going to. So unless you like rules discussion and theorycrafting more than actual gaming - and some people do - find a new game. I recently made my own foray into the world of online gaming and it's been nearly as satisfying as playing face to face. (I still miss actually being with my friends and the game-day cooking.) Still, a gaming group made entirely of RLMGM is workable - I've actually seen it in the wild. It's essentially a group of people who get together to argue about rules rather than actually gaming, but it can work - if you are into that sort of thing.

The second type is workable, but it's more common among the beer and pretzels/wargaming crowd from what I've seen. Now, nothing is wrong with either of those things, but I prefer high-drama/action/etc. over "I hit it with the sword and do 8 points of cutting damage.' That's just me. For some, the approach works just fine - just not me. Such games have to have very clear expectations on all parts otherwise the game is likely to end up about what the expectations of the game are exactly. It's the same problem with government committees - you end up needing a committee about the committee. For such impersonal gaming groups I suggest a shareable document that spells it all out in black and white. Gaming is all about what they can personally get out of it for such a group.

The third type - the type I prefer above all others - is the cooperative group. The group that builds the setting with the GM one game at a time (or even assists in the very beginning of setting design - this is something I also prefer). In such groups the players actively assist the GM in whatever way they are best capable and while they know the rules for the most part, they don't ride the GM like a rodeo show when he gets them wrong. Gaming is for fun for this type of group and they treat it as such.

The Rogue's Gallery
So how do you deal with rules-lawyers, meta-gamers, and munchkins? Well, let's breakdown exactly what I mean there so there is no quibbling over defintations or intent:

The Rules-Lawyer
Most don't really want to play - they want a place to argue their personal grievances in public. The Rules-Lawyer often has a hard time getting to be a player in a game because of his tendencies and because of this he often ends up as a Gamemaster. Unfortunately, those selfsame tendencies tend to drive players away at an astonishing rate because he's forever altered the rules he dislikes or changing them mid-game. Rules-lawyers tend to view RPGs as something they can control and therefore interact with and/or convince the GM to bend to their view through incessant nagging or, well, rules-lawyering.

Notable Features
Often starts digressions with "Well, I think [X] is [X] so I came up with a solution..."; likes to argue both in person and on public forums or discussion boards; tends to view game designers as their personal whipping boys.

Countering Rules-Lawyers
Countering a rules-layers is actually pretty easily done. You look them in the eyes and tell them to stop. If they persist you ask them to stop again. Should they wish to continue you eject them from your game. Do this in as an emphatic manner as possible. In at least two cases I violently ejected a player by picking them up and removing them from the gaming space. I don't recommend this action unless you're really really good at physically controlling a person. Often enough just telling them to leave works. Now I hear some of you "But, Christopher! my rules-lawyer is my sibling/spouse/smizmar." In that case you have to communicate with the rules-lawyer. You need to explain to them that what they are doing is not okay and it's ruining the game for others. Except for the most a**hole-ish of rules-lawyer they tend to try to rein themselves in.

The Meta-Gamer
Meta-gamers use player knowledge to overcome ingame obstacles (e.g., encounters, puzzles, and so on). In my experience, meta-gamers also tend to inflate their character's abilities through outright cheating (e.g., "I rolled a five!" when he rolled something else) or "accidental" misreporting of character abilities. In my opinion, they are almost as bad as the rules-lawyer for sheer campaign stopping power. Meta-gamers tend to come in two types - the malicious and the unintentional. The latter isn't using his knowledge on purpose - he's half-remembering things and using them for the benefit of his character. The former isn't. He's doing it because he views RPGs as something to win at. And as we all know there can be only one winner *snrk*.

Notable Features
Buys every adventure in every game system he plays on the off chance that he might be involved in it; hates showing his dice or character sheet (though not always) to others; often uses the phrase "But this is what my character would do!" and other similar ploys; has a "I must win at everything!" mentality.

Countering Meta-Gamers
Countering meta-gamers can be difficult - but it is possible. For the most part simply change any information you think they might know into something they couldn't know. Make it up on the spot if you're good at improv - that'll drive them nuts. For the cheating variety I'm going to recommend you do something that I wouldn't otherwise do: fudge your rolls or the difficulty. Only do this if you are very sure they are actually cheating. For the unintentional meta-gamer it's a bit harder - how do you stop someone who is not actively trying to ruin the game? In such cases, try to run adventures they don't have or change up the information as you would for a malfeasant meta-gamer.

The Munchkin
Aka the "Power Gamer". We've all met this guy at least once. He bends the rules into a pretzel until they do what he wants - I've been guilty of this to a degree on some occasions - and while this isn't always bad, it's never good for the unprepared GM. The munchkin is pretty straightforeard and he's rarely malcious, he just likes the "mini-game" of character creation. And let me be clear there is nothing wrong with that. Where it creates problems is when the Munchkin finds a way to violate the rules or precepts set down by the GM and the GM either fails to notice or doesn't realize the impact that might be brought about by such violation. Munchkin's love to find new ways to do things - especially if the new way is cheaper, better, or both. Munchkins view games as a way to test their prototype builds and tend not to care about the game they are in. Oddly enough, a "benign" munchkin is one of the GM's best friends..

Notable Features
Has near encyclopedic knowledge of his chosen game system(s); creates characters for fun or as an exercise in rules applications.

Countering Munchkins
Double check their builds and simply say "No" to things that will ruin your game. It really is that easy. For some you need to keep copies of their character between sessions, but that's not very common.

Picking Over the Bones
This post lays down some pretty broad and sweeping definitions - that's because this is my opinion on how the "bad guys" of the gaming world function. Not all folks see things like that, but in my experience over the last 20 years or so these are pretty common in the player base. GMs tend to have ways to deal with such players. For example, I handle all of the above the same way: I outright disallow rules-lawyering, metagaming, and munchkinism. If you do it you get a warning at first offense, second offense means you're out of the game for the night, third offense means you're out for a month. If you do it a fourth time we're done. I don't care how awesome a player you if you are ruining the quality of the game for the other players then we're done. And to clarify, when I say "offense" I don't mean "Hey you forgot X" or "No, my character would do X" I mean if you argue with me and stop the game and ruin it for the others you get a warning. I've used this system about 8 years now and I even include what I expect from players in all my handouts so they know where I stand. It works. It tends to create excess stuff for the players to read, but it works. How do you deal with such issues?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Designer's Notes: Magic Bullets

This rather light article should have been quick to write. It wasn't. It was like giving birth to a baby that had bone spikes on it. Really, I probably should have skipped writing anything for this issue, but when your broke you'll do whatever you need to to make some money. All that aside it was pretty fun to write. The research took a bloody eternity. I had to dig into just about every GURPS book with guns in it and I must have put a billion index cards on my wall as I tried to get all the information I needed together. Writing ti took nearly 50 hours (for 1,800 words!), revisions (thanks to comments from +Douglas Cole ) added another 15 hours, and editing was less than 3 hours. Because of how focused this article was (and how short!) I don't have any extras.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Gamemaster’s Guidepost: Randomly Generated Traps

Sometimes it’s a trap and you don’t know that you know. Sometimes it’s a trap and you know
that you know. Sometimes it’s a trap and you don’t know that you know. Basically, sometimes
you need a trap to spring on your players and you don’t want to take the time to roll it up.
Here’s twelve traps that have already been written up and are ready to go...

...if you'd like to read more, consider becoming a patron!

If you are already a patron click here for the full article.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Designer's Notes: Purveyors of the Priceless

Purveyors of the Priceless originally started out as "What the heck do I write for Low-Tech III?" I didn't get involved in the previous Low-Tech issue because I felt it was extremely far out of my comfort zone (which led to issues with Purveyors itself - I felt I needed to come up with some complex mechanism to live up to the Low-Tech series). I was actually told once or twice that I should just skip - but the problem with that is if you tell me I shouldn't do something it means I'm probably going to do it. I'm contrary that way.

One thing I'd seen on the forums so often was 'How do I play a merchant who sells stuff, but is also an adventurer?" (Seriously. It comes up every couple of months) So I decided to tackle the topic. I even started a thread on Low-Tech Trading to make sure my outline covered all the big stuff. A lot of folk want me to delver into the world-building side of selling/buying/trading, but my article's topic wasn't going to cover that and given the time frame I was working with there was no way I could make it work. There was simply too much to read and even more to write. My original outlined topics was a player-facing system for how to be a merchant and then rules on how low-tech transportation shaped low-tech economies. Because of word count limits I had to cut the latter off (and it needed more information anyways) and only the sections on merchants were submitted.

Overall, I'm rather proud of the rules I put together. It's not perfect and utterly faithful to historical accuracy (I'd say around 80% or so), but it is gameable and in my experience that's what's important. More than that, I think the simplified rules for trading are easy enough to use that they can provide some great chances at roleplaying without dice rolls getting in the way, while still being detailed enough that they retain some of that granularity that Low-Tech is so famous for.

This article well over a 100 hours of research (a dozen books and something 10,000+ pages later) - though most of that was for the transportation section of the article that I cut. The writing part wasn't bad overall - about 30 hours, but I had to stop and start writing because I ended up needing to read about this or that. Revisions were equally nightmarish to research with over 40 hours and something like 100 email exchanges. Editorial was fairly typical at around 20 hours for both post and pre-production changes.

High-Tech Trading as a Job
One thing I had to kill was a box with a few guidelines for using Purveyors in higher-TL campaigns. Many high-tech purchasers buy product in bulk to get a discount on price and then sell it just above that price. For GURPS this is best represented with taking a -1 to -4 to your skill roll to gain an automatic 2.5% profit even if you fail your skill roll. Thus if someone bought a lot of Bouncing Betty baby dolls and taking a -4 to their Job roll they'd gain an a +10% increase in their salary - even if they failed.

Another concept I toyed with was moving the penalty around for Trading as a Job depending on the method used to transport goods. Should extra detail be desired, the following chart can be used to vary the penalty for trading:

Penalty         Travel type*
1/5                 By foot
1/10               By horse or wagon
1/20               By sea, train, or "slow" air vehicles (e.g., dirigibles)
1/50               By air
1/100             By suborbital drops or similiar technology
* Without a good road system or infrastructure reduce this by one step; treat foot travel as 1/2 if so reduced.

Wining and Dining
One idea I toyed with, but ultimately never included was using the rules for Cost of Living (p. B265-266) to simulate "wooing" a potential buyer or client. Ever watch Mad Men or Spice and Wolf? Ever notice how seemingly every episode seems to have something like that? In real life it's even more prevalent. Yeah, it's that important. Ultimately I left it our because I needed the space and it was kind of obvious. Essentially, it worked like this: decide upon the Status of meal/booze/accommodations you are treating your client to. Then add a modifier to all rolls made for interacting with that client equal to (meal status) - (their Status). You can get negative penalties this way! If you give a Status 3 client a Status 1 meal he's likely to be miffed at you! In either case, penalties for wining and dining can never go above +4 or below -4.

Those with Merchant Rank, imputed Status, etc. can use their ties to reduce this amount by a similiar amount. Thus subtract your levels of imputed Status from the Status level you are using to wine and dine to get total cost. Thus it's almost always worth purchasing Wealth and Rank to get more imputed Status.

For example, if Status 0 Bob is trying to sell those Bouncing Betty baby dolls to the toy distributor Frank who has Status 2, then Bob could spend $60,000 (Status 6) in fancy meals, 100 year old scotch, and five star hotels to persuade Frank to take the dolls off his hands. Do note, that sometimes, this isn't worth it if the price to sell plus wining/dining isn't at least what they stand to gain. But if Bob had Status 2 as well, he'd only pay for such luxuries as if they were Status 4 or $600!

Side Jobs
Another concept that I felt had merit was the character who moonlighted as a merchant. Probably the best way to simulate this is to cut the profits in half for those spending 20 hours or less or by a quarter for those who are spending 10 hours or less. This is similar to how self-teaching and learning on the job work for the Time Use/Study rules. (And really, gives me an idea on jobs in general for GURPS.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sicatra - The Edge of Twilight - Game Session 2

Operating Team
Rhiannon Redarch (PC – Avatar of Imir– Sage)
Sophia Nelli (PC – Hero of Sulio– Scout)
Vesevius Dox (PC – Hero of Ghermukhannu – Sage)
Viekas Linna (PC – Hero of Johren– Hunter-of-all-Trades)

Kelios “the Hellhound” Nazari (NPC – Avatar of Ilios – Hunter-of-all-Trades)
Strom (NPC Animal Companion)

The Story Thus Far… After Chancellor Rhiannon assembled her preliminary investigative team to look into the murder of their fellow Hounds the team seeks out a base of operations. After checking out a few locations in the city, Rhiannon decides to use the old clock tower at the edge of the western walls of Tethyrin so the group heads that way.

Rhiannon Redarch, Sophia Nelli, Vesevius Dox, and Viekas Linna
Weather: 44ºF; 20 mph winds from the east; heavy rain
Ust, 4th Day, 2,071 A.G.
Abandoned Clock Tower, Tethyrin, Abolethe

As is common in the Span, a rain storm shows up from nowhere and begins dumping freezing water on everyone. The roads quickly flood and the weather quickly turns against them. They eventually break into the ruined tower, but as soon as they enter the building they are attacked by spider-shaped clockwork automatons. The automatons quickly gain the upper hand, but after an ill-timed explosion from one of Viekas’ pistols the team manages to finish off the spiders. Before the last one can be killed a hatch opens in the thorax and a small round sphere scurries out. Popping legs from its spherical body it tries to leave. When it can’t leave it looks dolefully at Rhiannon who takes pity on it. Instead of smashing the automaton (like most of the rest of her team wants to do) they let it live. It quickly runs up the stairs to where the clock mechanism is. Finding it damaged, Viekas, Dox, and the rest fix the mechanism to make it run again. For the first time in over three decades the bell in the tower tolls confirming the hour. Viekas spends several hours trying to understand the mechanisms of the clock tower. He eventually stops, but records everything he’s found out. For some reason, the entire tower is both in sync and out of sync with reality. It’s connected to multiple times, planes, and spaces – Viekas just doesn’t know how to make it work.

The automaton shows them a hallway that leads to living quarters and Rhiannon decides to set up their base of operations at the tower. Heading out for supplies, the team comes back and begins to settle in. Rhiannon breaks out all the intelligence and information they have on who’s murdering Hounds and the team gets to work.

Weather: 3144ºF; 35 mph winds from the east; heavy rain
Ust, 4th Day, 2,071 A.G.
Abandoned Clock Tower, Tethyrin, Abolethe

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Melee Academy: Hostile Diplomatic Relations (or "How to Disarm With Words Instead of Swords")

"Drop. Your. Sword." If there is anything more iconographic of a threat resulting in the disarmament of an opponent it's the near final scene of Princess Bride. In my mind, there's not much more powerful than the moment where Wesley/The Man in Black has nothing left to fight with but his wit and it's more than a enough. So how to do that in GURPS? Well, I've got a few ideas.

Disarming by Threat
Intimidation feels like a natural fit when forcing someone to self-disarm. The GM could rule that this might be a result for a particularly impressive margin of success or, alternatively, he might use the following, optional, rules for Intimidation. Use the normal results for Knocking a Weapon Away (p. B401), but instead make an Intimidation roll at -5 vs. the target's Will with the following modifiers:

Add +2 if you have a weapon with a Reach of 2+ or a longarm (e.g., rifle, shotgun, etc.) and your target only has a Reach C weapon or pistol.
Add +1 if you have a Reach 1 weapon or mid-sized firearm (e.g., PDW or carbine) and your target only has a Reach C weapon or pistol.
If you and your target have weapons with comparable range, add +0, but add a further +2 if you have a firearm or similiar ranged weapon and they do not.
Specious Intimidation (p. B202) adds a +3, but failure also means your attempt to make your target drop his weaponry automatically fails in addition to other effects.
Subtract the reaction bonus for Reputations that involve bloodthirstiness or similiar themes, but add the reaction bonus as a bonus for Reputations involving mercy or honor. Similar traits may be substituted if the GM feels they are appropriate (e.g., Vow (Keeps Word Once Given) might add if you give the target your word they will come to no harm). Regardless, you can only ever gain a +4 from this or suffer a -4 penalty.

Success means the target throws his weapon away. Success by five or more means he prepares to be taken prisoner (GM determines how).

Picking Over the Bones
The rules for disarming by social skill may be avaialble to everyone or may require a perk (just like Feints based on Influence Skills or Acrobatics). As with all things, that's the GMs call. Overall, I think the above works pretty well, but I'd be interested in hearing how others might want to do "disarm by social skill." Of course, this does bring up an interesting thought: how to disarm someone by using Sleight of Hand? That's exactly the sort of thing a PC would try in one of my games. "I'm a stage magician, I'm going to get close enough and then steal the slide of his pistol." I suppose that would be a combination of Sleight of Hand and Holdout. Hmmm. Ideas....

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sicatra - The Edge of Twilight - Game Session 1

Operating Team
Rhiannon Redarch (PC – Avatar of Imir– Sage)
Sophia Nelli (PC – Hero of Sulio– Scout)
Vesevius Dox (PC – Hero of Ghermukhannu – Sage)
Viekas Linna (PC – Hero of Johren– Hunter-of-all-Trades)

Kelios “the Hellhoudn” Nazari (NPC – Avatar of Ilios – Hunter-of-all-Trades)
Strom (NPC Animal Companion)

The Story Thus Far… With someone killing members of the Order of the Iron Hound, Grandmaster Janos assigns his right hand, Chancellor Redarch to assemble a team of Hounds to find the killer and put a stop to their actions.

Rhiannon Redarch
Weather: 38ºF; 12 mph winds from the east; heavy rain
Sivna, 11th Day, 2,071 A.G.
The Iron Citadel, Khrysaor Valley, Abolethe

Rhiannon, fresh from her meeting with the Grandmaster, puts her new directive to test and frees the “war criminal” (and her mate) from Crow Tower – a place for the most dangerous beings the Order is forced to capture instead of outright kill. She gives Kelios the rundown on the situation and asks him to help her put together a team and stop the murder of their fellow Hounds. Going into the black files (for the dishonored or disowned operatives), Kelios gives Rhiannon a few names and the two set off to find the first three of their potential recruits.

Rhiannon Redarch
Weather: 38ºF; 12 mph winds from the east; heavy rain
Sivna, 22nd Day, 2,071 A.G.
Maryrn Forest, Abolethe

Deep in the Maryrn Forest at the mouth of the Khrysaor Valley sits a small trapper shack where their first recruit, Sophia Nelli, is currently living. After extorting huge amounts of gold from a noble to slay a druagr she was put on extended leave and investigated. At first, Sophia wants nothing to do with this “new mission,” but Rhiannon bribes her with a cleared name and record as well as increased pay. Sophia packs her meager belongings and leaves with her new team for the city of Tethyrin.

Rhiannon Redarch & Sophia Nelli
Weather: 46ºF; 7 mph winds from the east; light rain
Ust, 4th Day, 2,071 A.G.
Tethyrin, Abolethe

The last two recruits are in the massive harbor-city of Tethyrin. Visiting the House of Pages (a famous temple-library of Uhjun) they look for their next recruit: Vesevius Dox, a famous Hound with training from both the Keepers and the Warmasters of Tanlorn. Dox retired to a non-field position after the Seige of Tor Ivelline (where he also earned the nickname “Seigebreaker”) when his entire Hound unit was forced to help put down a rebellion. Tired of the slaughter, Dox entered Ivelline and singlehandedly killed fifty men in under an hour and ended the siege.

It takes Rhiannon a little while to convince Dox to come work for her, but he eventually agrees and the ever-growing team goes to find their last recruit.

Heading to the world-famous Tethyrinian docks, Rhiannon ends up in a dive bar where their last recruit, Viekas Linna (heir to the Linna mercantile empire), is entertaining the bar with one of his stories. Unfortunately, a bar brawl breaks out and the entire tavern turns into a blood bath. Just as quickly, Rhiannon lets out a high C note and the fighting comes to a halt. She admonishes the crowd, pries Viekas away from his bevvy of bar wenches, and gives him the low down of why she’s there. Viekas, unable to resist a challenge (or a chance to show how amazing he is) agrees to help them and the newly formed team go to look for a base of operations they can use (they were advised not to use the local chapterhouse).

Weather: 44ºF; 20 mph winds from the east; heavy rain
Ust, 4th Day, 2,071 A.G.
Tethyrin, Abolethe

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Carpe Blogiem: It's Been an Aeon...

My new campaign setting, Aeon, has proven to be quite interesting. The base idea of the setting is the question "What if superpowers became real one day?" It's not a particularly novel idea. But it became more (and I can't really discuss what I mean by this - because my players read this blog) the more I thought about that idea. Eventually, I tuned it from the macroscopic (looking at the world itself) down to something more manageable (a single city, New York City). All the while looking at the more common superhero tropes and either inverting or subverting them.

For example, New York City itself is always a place with more heroes than average - why? In Aeon there is a fully legit reason why this occurred (well two, but the other is secret for now): the Transatlantic Pulse (aka the TAP or just TAP) is thought to be the underlying reason why superpowers exist. It's more mundane effects was an EMP-like disturbance which knocked out nearly every power-grid on any area touching the Atlantic Ocean and (strangely) knocked out China's entire grid. This occurred late in the year 1999. By 2000 reports of superhuman abilities spontaneously manifesting began. After the Commander and the Combustible Man fought in lower Manhattan on 9/11 the world changed. Superhuman powers could no longer be denied. They were real. But again, why New York City? Because the TAP emitted an energy (in the campaign setting it's called "Kyberian Energy") that "blobbed" up and hit the city harder than other locations. Thus, lots of supers in NYC.

I did the same thing with the common trope that all supers seem to be...well ripped/goodlooking. But in a specific way. There is an offshoot of humanity in the setting, Homo sapiens surculus (more commonly called "Scions"), that are basically homo superior. They literally are better in the humans in just about all ways including their appearance which is pretty much described as "sexy" or "hunky." They also have an innate capability to posses multiple power aptitudes (in GURPS-terms, power talents, which are normally restricted to one for everyone but them). Who are these offshoots of humanity and where did they come from? Well, that's a mystery to be solved in game play.

I guess I'll talk some more about the setting itself when I get everything more firmly in place - which shouldn't be too long because the bloody player character booklet is around 17,000 words at the moment. I know, I know, you're thinking "Bloody hell and be damned, Christopher?! 17,000 words? Are you mad!?" Yes. A little, but really, when I build a setting I like to be able to reuse it if possible and in this case I'm very glad I did because at the moment I'm running two games in Aeon. The A-Team (name forthcoming) in my weekly face-to-face group and the B-Team in an online group every Monday at 7pm to 12pm. The players from both games have really stepped it up - I have full back histories, dossiers, and general personalities for everyone. I'm going to pause here for a second and let that sink in. I have ten players and eight of them have handed in several thousand words worth of character fluff. That's huge. That only adds to the worldbuilding aspect. It only makes things better. I've had some hurdles to be sure - but I continue to overcome them like I always do. And this time I've some help.

What's been more interesting is the interest that I've garnered from people not playing in the campaign. At the moment I've got at least two folks who are steadily making NPCs (with full dossiers/histories) for me to use as I like. There is also a discussion between one of my good online friends and I for creating an in-game publication - something I fully intend to do. If you follow my blog and you like doing this sort of stuff, contact me very email. I never intended this to be a shared setting, but a few extra pairs of eyes and brains never hurt and that's where it seems to be heading.

A-Team Lineup
The A-Team are set at a minimum of 1,200 points and will be dealing with international/global threats on the beta IMAPS program as well as any major incidents in New York City. There will necessarily be some crossover with the B-Team.

  • Xia Xing (L.A.): an ancient immortal Chinese sorceress who's over 2,000 years old with a god-like intellect and understanding of human psychology. Trapped in a myriad  number of  Hells (Chinese have a lot of Hells) she is a capable warrior who uses her prescience to quickly master any opponent she fights. Her husband is an equally immortal dragon who did everything in his power to help her escape the Hell she had been confined to. 
  • FINN "the human" (+Troy Loy): The Floral Intelligent Neural Network is a plant person that was accidentally created by a fly by night think tank who were trying to create a bioorganic computer. They succeeded, but their facilities were raided and everything was destroyed. Finn escaped by sending a seedling on the wind and wound up in a New York City school's co-opt garden. With the ability to control plants, emulate various plant functions, and (oddly) control computers he's  an odd, but useful duck.
  • Pulse (C.): A DJ with light and sound-based metahuman powers, Pulse has no "secret" identity and instead lives openly as a metahuman - something that's becoming rare with the rise of the Human Price Association. Pulse is powerful as far as metahumans go, but has a tendency to party and is a bit of a bon vivant.
  • Jericho Stone (C. J.): An archeologist with control over earth and stone. Still waiting for my info on this guy from my brother.

         (There's a possibility of one more player, but his work schedule may interfere. We'll see.)

B-Team Lineup
The B-Team will be strictly New York City-based and part of the MAPS program dealing with hostile metahuman threats the police either cannot handle or would prefer not to handle.

  • The Commander aka Ian Owari (+Douglas Cole): a Navy SEAL who gained his abilities via one of the first super-soldier programs. He's tough, strong, fast, and possess control over kinetic energy. He also has an advanced power suit (something worn like clothing or armor - not a Tony Stark battlesuit) that enhances his abilities.
  • Arc Light II (C.): C. is also playing in my online campaign in the role of Arc Light a experiment with the ability to control electricity and wears a battlesuit he inherited from his uncle and mentor, Zevulun Damini. Arc Light is compassionate, considerate, logical, and looking to make a difference (and to make up for his past). He's got ties to the NYC underworld. He's tempered his passion for technological advancement with something most inventors don't have: a look at the big picture. His inventions have the capacity to change the world - he just wants to make sure it's a change for the better.
  • Zephyr aka Murui Ao (GodbeastX): Zephyr is an albino - but he's also a martial artist with mastery of Shaolin Kung Fu taught to him by his mother. While he has some minor chi powers he's nominally a metahuman speedster. He doesn't have full control over his abilities, but he does make good use of them. With the ability to go over 230 mph he's faster than just about any vehicle in the city.
  • The Rat Queen aka Pontikia Paroni (Emily "Bruno" Smirl): Probably one of the most interesting characters so far, The Rat Queen controls rodents, but more than that she can turn into them (including a swarm form that sends musophobes into screaming fits) as well as a giant 20 foot tall "rat ogre" form where she gains tremendous strength. Backed by Xanthus Nicolaides, she's somewhat of a "privately" funded hero.
  • Eamon Finnegan (Kyle Norton): A metahuman rights activist (and activist in general), psychologist, and lawyer, Eamon is a Scion who comes from a long line of them. Raised to use - not abuse - his powers he was locked in prisoner for several years as the legal system had to deal with the sudden influx of metahuman abilities. Eamon is a staunch foe of the HPA and is working to get them branded a hate group. Eamon has control over both gravity and density making him one of the more power metahumans in New York City.

Picking Over the Bones (C-Team and Beyond...)
Multiple online games, one-shots at FLGS, and similiar venues have cropped up while I've been talking to people. If A and B run okay then I'll probably run a C-Team on a bi-weekly basis. If that's okay, then I might do a D-Team on a monthly basis, and so on. Like the other online games it would only be 4-6 hours, but the sheer thought of having a multitude of players and characters that could crossover with one fires the imagination. We'll see how the first two go. Really, I guess that's all I got at the moment, still sorting through some questions. Is there anything that you, the readers, would like to see answered about Aeon? Any burning questions? Something I may have forgotten?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Carpe Blogiem: Dodging Ravens, Shooting Dice

So as others have thrown out there - HANS - yes, the Grey Tiger himself - the Hans-Christian sans Anderson has a blog. What kind of blog? It's got guns...lots of guns, but it also has Cthulhu and some random (yet) awesome stuff.

So go on over, read his stuff. Become one with the Hans errrr, strike that last bit. Look, go over there and read. Do it for the kittens. Do it cause the stars are right. Do it because every hit is a bullet in an investigator's gun. I mean HANS did knock out Cthulhu over 200 times. I mean he does have a machine gun now....

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Carpe Blogiem: 2015 - A Year In Review

Like my last two years in review. Here are how things went for me in 2015:

The Good (What I did well or that went well)
  • I was published in Pyramid a lot this year: #3/75: Hero's Jackpot (5/5 stars), #3/76: Dungeon Fantasy IV (4.5/5 stars), #3/77: Combat (4.5/5 stars), #3/78: Unleash Your Soul (5/5 stars), #3/79: Space Atlas (4.5/5 stars), #3/80: Fantasy Threats (5/5 stars), #3/82: Magical Creations (4.5/5 stars), #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV (5/5 stars), #3/84: Perspectives (5/5 stars), #3/85: Cutting Edge (5/5 stars), and #3/86: Organizations. I had THREE cover issues this year (#3/80, #3/83, & #3/86). As of right now I've been published in Pyramid 36 times (twice in Issue #3/46). I was published ELEVEN times this year, losing out only in July. Eventually I'll get the "all year" mark. It's yet another goal to strive for.
  • I'm still working on the current wishlist, but all issues are done except for Spaceships III, Tech and Toys VI, and Zombies. I've got another 14 that are have no listed home, but are good to go.
  • My Patreon has been doing extremely well considering what it is - I've reached the point where I make (on average) about the same as writing for Pyramid. Between the two of them and my normal freelancing I'm not constantly scrambling for finances to pay the bills. This is kind of huge. Another $400 or so and I should be able to pay bills and get health insurance through the ACA.
  • I continue roaming the forums and answering questions. I seem to have become something of a GURPS guru - that's just weird, but awesome.
  • I appeared in the Steve Jackson Games Daily Illuminator. This is a HUGE honor.
  • My work with the Pyramid Mentoring Group has been slow because life keeps eating the mentors (hey! If you want to write for GURPS why don't you stop on by?) - but we're still here.
  • My grammar and mastery of the English language improved much in 2015 and I continue to work hard to get to where I need to be. My teachers and mentors have remained patient with me and really, I can only get better.
  • Nimbus remains a source of delight and amusement. His built-in glucometer has saved me on half a dozen occurrences from night lows.
  • My mother's home is in a precarious (but stable) situation. Everything is getting paid, but we'd still like to get it paid off and a few things fixed.
  • My mom met someone and TL;DR he moved in and they're probably getting married. He's kind of awesome and I love the dude to death (enough that I call him "Dad"). We're enough alike that when he calls me "son" no one really questions it. It's kind of nice having a dad. I never grew up with one and I always had to find my own father figures.

The Bad (What I could have done better or had no control over)
  • I finished writing FIVE novels for an urban fantasy series. It's not good enough and needs more editing. I don't really feel like I have the time at the moment. Sigh. Into the bin they go. Maybe publish them some day. Onto the next novel series. I really want to publish something in the fiction market in 2016. Here's to hoping it happens.
  • My blogging has continued at a pace - though it's gone from 3-4 posts a week down to 2 pots thanks to renovations and sheer lack of time. I've strived to make sure that the content remains the same. Hopefully the new year will find me posting more with even better content.
  • Physical Health: I don't know why, but I ended up gaining back weight I'd lost - I amt at 473.8 lbs. I'm going to chalk this up to stress-eating and hyperphagia due to setting off my bi-polar disorder from said stress. I have to do better. I want to live longer than 50. My diabetes management came to a skidding halt as I was diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera (Tl;DR I make to many red blood cells) and I had to change my diet yet again. My doctor has helped me to manage it (it requires I receive regular phlebotomy - they need to take out 500 to 1,000 units at a time) and after a complete DNA sequencing (my disease presented very strangely) he has determined I've got some interesting aberrations. Aberrations he wants to study. My A1C at the end of the year was 9.0 - that is not a good number. Overall pain has been lower than usual. I hope this latter trend continues
  • The project I started on for a private client ended up getting delayed into rewrite Hell. We've since dropped deadlines - but I've put too much ink to page to ditch it at this point. It'll be finished when I can get more time. I learned a lot from this - chiefly - never accept a private contract until the work is itself done and you have time. Although said project did morph twice into something different and that always takes time. This has made my skittish in taking more than 5k worth of word projects so if you're interested in that sort of thing, take heed.

The Ugly (I don’t know how to categorize this or too early to tell)
  • Mental Health: My PTSD diagnosis is still getting reviewed. Remains probable. Hopefully some real news soon. I've a neurologist's appointment tomorrow to rule out an physiological symptoms. Overall,I've kept fairly balanced and I've had few breakthrough incidents. I still feel like I'm grieving for my grandmother, except I'm not grieving. I miss her sometimes. I wish she was here - but not as a zombie. No, not as a zombie.
  • I didn't do NaNoWriMo for the first time in a couple years - just too much to do.
  • My Dungeon Fantasy book is in editorial hell at the moment because PK has hurt one of his hands substantially. I do not blame him. Dude has had a hard time in the last few months. It'll get done when it's done.
  • The Dungeon Fantasy I talked about in my last update morphed into something that was...well, strange. Essentially, the PCs took the role of divine beings (gods) and their avatars. children, etc. EAch campaign story arc used a different GURPS line and I cycled through Dungeon Fantasy and (medieval) Monster Hunters, before the campaign wheel turned and I decided to revamp a supers campaign into something better (see below).
  • January 11th, 2015 will start the beginning of a new campaign (I've still only got four). But this one is all about the supers genre. I'm doing something I think is rather unique. This campaign will feature two groups of players (maybe three). One online (maybe two) and one face to face. The uniqueness will come from the fact that ALL players will be in the same "universe" and the things they do will impact the world and how other players may interact with it. Exciting stuff. More of that to come.
  • It looks like folks WANT to see adventures released on my Patreon page, but the numbers are still lukewarm. I'll continue to monitor the situation and decide from there.
  • My mother's boyfriend is renovating the house - this is awesome because hey, stuff is getting fixed that needs to be fixed. Moreover, I'm getting my own little place in the once-garage as an apartment efficiency. It's bad because I've been living in the living room for over 8 weeks and my nerves are beyond frazzled at this point. Hopefully within the next two weeks Nimbus and I will be in our new digs and all will go well.

Like the previous year it was mostly good with a few bad things happening to send some shade to cover the shine. 2015 was not the year of "Some Day" as I had hopped, but so much happened I'm surprised I kept up with study, work, my (small) social life, and family. Here's hoping that 2016 slows down where it should and speeds up where I hope it will.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

GURPS101: More Bioenhancement Abilities for Monster Hunter Experiments II

Like the previous installment, today’s Special is all about the experiment from GURPS Monster
With new abilities for your favorite Frankenstein or Prometheus person, what
could possibly go wrong with making a monster...

..if you'd like to read more, consider becoming a patron!

If you are already a patron click here for the full article.