Aboard the good ship “Wormwood”

30 June, 2012

I be Bob, or Salty Bob if ye prefer. When I were born they threw me into the sea, but instead of sinking I floated. “It’s a buoy!”, they cried, and named me Bob on account of how I were bobbin’ there in the waves.

But enough ‘o me: you be here to hear about the good ship Wormwood, and I be happy to oblige.

It were only a week or two after the bitch ‘o the sea – Besmara – finally caught me, though I gave her a good chase. Marked me at birth, she did, with the jolly roger. The last voyage my luck finally ran out, and I were in a stormy sea and called out to her – if she would toss me a line, I would serve. Not a moment after, a half-empty keg of rum came within my reach an I were saved. A made it ashore, drank the rum and got religion. Never thought I’d be castin spells and callin on the goddess, but here I be.

Salty Bob has traits “Touched by the Sea” and “Marked at Birth”. I wanted him to be older (because I am, and it makes it easier to roleplay). So I needed an excuse for a older human to be level 1. I imagine Bob to be in his mid to late thirties – which is middle aged for a human in a fantasy setting.

First thing I remember is wakin’ belowdecks with a splitting head. “Pressganged!” I thought, and so it were. Me and four others. In a moment we were hauled on deck and I got me first look at ’em.

The usual mix, a couple ‘o humans – mebbe a half-elf – and two half orcs. Big lads the two of em. Capn’ made the usual speech, an we were taken away to be put to work. There were two officers: Mr Plug, who were in charge ‘o discipline, and Master Lash, who were also in charge ‘o discipline. And a nasty looking pair they were.

Arrgh! Where are my notes? Oh – that’s right. They are on the character sheet, which Keegan keeps. No names or details this week. We have a human or elf sorceress, a rogue, and a half-orc fighter and barbarian. I’m healbot. A good party, actually. Light on ranged combat is the only thing.

Being pressganged is specific to recruiting in the Royal Navy, rather than being something that pirates do. Pirates Shanghai people rather than impressing them, I think, the distinction being that impressment was legal, whereas shanghaing is outright kidnapping and a very different thing.

Well, two of us were handy in the rigging – I’m were old for it, even then – and the lass was taken off to be cook. Meself and one of the haf orc was made swabs. But I’d been sailin a fair few years, and now I were workin for Besmara wouldn’t be long before I weren’t swabbing the deck, I thought.

There were a priestess on board, and she took a bit of a shine to us. Good thing, I thought, as I were new to the clericing business. She gave our two half-orcs back their swords: a bloody great two-handed sword and a bloody great scimitar – a falchion. A score of new faces, of course, that we were going to have to live with for the next few months at the very least. I tried to ingratiate meself with the quartermaster, but no luck there. I decided I might just have to stick to me work.

Bob has a good charisma, but I put skill points into swimming and profession rather than social skills. I’ll fix it next level, but until then I’ll have to rely on the rest of the party diplomacising.

Then came the Bloody Hour, when the floggings were done. Before dinner, o course, not after. Can’t have the men throwing up their rations. They keelhauled a man for thieving and tossed him to the sharks. I think it made an impression on the lads, which is always the point of punishment.

When our watch was over, we went belowdecks and gambled and slept. One of the lads – the sneaky type – wanted me to have a look at something for him. A bottle of holy water, it were. There’s a lad with brass, I thought, to go thieving first day after seeing a man keelhauled for it. I congratulated him on not getting caught, an told him it were sovereign against the undead of the sea and the town watch.

I’m not used to playing chaotic characters. My first reaction was “Oh noes! You don’t steal from your shipmates!” But that’s not how Salty Bob rolls. Telling the dude that holy water blessed by Besmara works against the town watch is also an attempt at being more chaotic. I think being a teller of outrageous tall tales works. It also reflects that Bob is new to being a cleric – for all he knows, Besmara’s holy water might very well work against the town watch.

After not enough sleep, it were time for our watch. But a couple of lads were blocking our way. Seems they were looking for a fight, so we obliged. Just fists, o’ course: and me prayin to Besmara to give my lads a boost. Seems the lass is a sorceress – she used a spell. Coloured lights, or something, which will daze a man for a moment. But it didn’t seem to work. I stayed behind the half orcs.

Dude playing the sorceress is learning about playing a squishy. Colour Spray is a great spell, and perfect for this situation, but you have to get in close. It didn’t work, but it was the right thing to do in that situation. Don’t confuse bad luck with bad tactics.

We won, but we were a few seconds late on deck. “Yer late!”, says Mr Plug, “three lashes at bloody hour!”. Some of us protested – the sneaky bloke most of all – but it was pointless. If you ask me, Mr Plug set it up to make sure we all got a taste of the lash early on. Good for discipline. I told him I overslept, which he and I both knew was a tale.

I decided to have a bit of a chat with them during the day. It’s a pirate ship, and it’s important to not show fear. Cowards get thrown over.

I would like to have used Command in-game to tell the rogue to “Shut yer gob!” But I didn’t think of it.

All in all, a good start to the campaign.


It seems straightforward to me

30 June, 2012

A country’s territory includes its airspace.

A no-fly zone is a military annexation of that airspace.

An annexation of a country’s territory is an act of war.


GG4 – Prison, again

27 June, 2012

Haven’t been blogging. Out of practise. Meh.

It ‘as been some time since I last prayed, because I don’t see there’s much point to it. But there’s nuffink much else to do when yer locked up, so I fort I might renew acquaintance. I ‘ave many sins wot I would like ter apologise for. Some of ’em I am not so sure is sins, but I’ll apologise anyway ter be on the safe side.

I am sorry I came ‘ere ter Sharn. I could ‘ave gone sailing wiv dad, I could ‘ave just wandered around. But naaah – it ‘ad ter be the Big City. Everyone ‘as ter see the towers once in their life and it looks like I seen as much of them as I’m going ter. I been out of my depth ‘ere from day one. We managed ter piss of both the local boys and the entire fackin’ ‘ouse of assassins.

I am sorry I ‘Arvey Milled that bloke back at the ‘ouse. But fuck ‘im. We gave ’em the chance ter leave quiet, ‘an they were all “Well, we got to put up a fight, don’t we?”. Fackin’ stupid.

I am sorry that I got involved in a fight between ‘ouse Phiarlain ‘an ‘ouse Thuranni, ‘an I am most particularly ‘an specifically sorry that when someone said “‘Ouse Thuranni ‘ave got a back door, let’s break in and pinch sum stuff!”, I replied “That sounds like a top idea!” instead of “That sounds fackin’ stupid”.

There are sum more sins after this, but they are all sort of part of the main fing wot I ‘ave jus mentioned.

I am sorry that I didn’t just piss off when it turned out that everyone else’s idea of sneakin’ in quiet-like was ter go ter a pub two blocks away ‘an announce ter the publican that we was going ter break in the the local assassin’s clubouse.

I am not very sorry at all that I ‘elpd gak that assassin. He wos an assassin.

I am a little bit sorry I broke the lock on the door, as it wos a nice bit of work.

I am sorry I didn’t get suspicious when we walked ‘arf a mile froo a tunnel owned by Ouse Thuranni and didn’t once se a guard.

I am sorry I didn’t finally turn ‘an bolt when we ‘ad ter go past an entire fackin’ roomful of assassins ‘aving fuckin’ dinner ter get ter the library.

And since by that stage we wos all pretty much done for, I am sorry that I didn’t just go “Fuck this and fuck you” when Lorne told the geezer that the rest of us wos just zombies or some shit.

Sorry about the language, too, but the language don’t begin ter describe wot a bad idea this ‘ole fing was from start ter finish.

Traveller, if I get out of this alive I’ll bury a few gold dahn at the crossroads, or whatever yer supposed ter do when yer in the city. Maybe just fling ’em on the road? That’d be good fer a laugh. An I will avoid these an uvver similar sins in future.

Lorne did manage to talk our way out of there. But next time he wants Korgul to accompany him to take part in the Phiarlan/Thuranni war, well, I think he’ll have to offer some sort of inducement.

Awful Profiles by Women

20 June, 2012

Just reading Awful Profiles by Women. I think I just worked out why these women write such dreadful, dreadful profiles.

Doesn’t matter if she is smart:

“I suck at relationships. First and foremost. I’m a perfectionist, I’m demanding, and most of all-I’m picky. I’m an analytical chemist and just graduated in chemistry, neuroscience, and biology. Looks like law school after this, but right now? I don’t want to do jack shit. I’m small, but vicious. I don’t take any sass, but I’ll readily give it. I love my friends, but I would sacrifice them any day for my own personal entertainment. ”

or stupid:

I am an ELEGANT PRINCESS, passionate, romantic, classy, sassy, witty, free spirited and very spiritual woman who enjoys theater, opera, comedy, dancing, movies, eating out, coffee, family, friends, movies and the spiritual realm.

I am searching for a definite ALPHA MALE who is also a NON-DRINKER, NON-USER OF MIND ALTERNING SUBSTANCES, CLEAN & SOBER who is confident, aggressive, assertive, and masculine, yet is kind, loving and sensitive to me. A BUSINESS OWNER / PRESIDENT / CEO of an ackomplished Company and well-to-do Professional. Someone who when we go out automatically holds doors for me, who lights my cigerette, who helps me with my coat/sweater who stands on his own two feet, who has good values & morals, is honest, mature, funny and would protect me. I am interested in something long term and should I ever marry again, I want a wedding like the one in the “Guns N Roses” You Tube Video of “November Rain”. So, sweep me off my feet and make all my dreams come true and you will be well compensated with benefits. Prefer cut men. If you like cooking, that would be great. I hate cooking!! You must be CLEAN & SOBER, a non-user of alcohol and mind altering substances.

Over and over, the list of demands, the words that read “I am awesome” but scream “I suck as a human being”.

Why?

Why, why, why post something like this?

It’s because these people see love and dating as an adversarial negotiation. These profiles are an initial position: “I got this ass, this degree, and I want this in exchange”. And that alone, gentlemen, tells you a great deal. The focus all along is “What am I giving, what am I getting in exchange? Am I getting a good deal, or should I bail?” That’s what “love” is, to them: a business deal. Sure, one that involves emotions, but at the end of the day a deal.

What it’s not about is: “do I like this person?”. Or even love. The men in their lives aren’t people to them – they are a set of stats.

And that’s why they are single. That’s why they are on dating sites. They had marriages, children, houses, a life together with a man, but the whole time they were calculating, totting up sums, working out “am I happy enough?”. Bailing out is always, always an option. So much for “For better or worse, for richer or poorer”.

To them, it’s a cold-eyed, cold-hearted business. And that’s the underlying issue. To these women, getting a man is the equivalent, for a man, of getting a job. It’s their income, their security. It’s what they do for a living. So they are angling for the best conditions and salary they can get.

And that’s what’s going on here.


Die With Honour – Wintercon 2012

11 June, 2012

DWO is D&D stripped of all that bullshit “role playing”, “plot” and “story”. Just mindless hack and slash for a solid two-and-a-half days.

Where’s my map? … here we are! Started at the door to the dog room. Did the carrion crawlers, the lizards of doom, then over to the skeleton on a throne, then we decided we wanted to go to level 2, so back out through the dog room (same day, the lizards were still gone) – carrion crawlers again. Then … not sure, then I think ankhegs, then the spiders (nasty) and ants. One of us wanted to do the beholder, and I totally Antimagic Rayed that motherfucker.

Then back to the ant room and north to the rest room. Where I think we rested. Then his divine mercifulness started teleporting us across rooms. I should explain.

Jerimiah the Second is, of course, a worshipper of Enryk. I say “of course” because what sane person would not be? The divine one found it a little wearing to hand-hold we weak ones through the boring rooms. We skipped the maze, walked though the village (one of us was well known there), fought some suits of armour (the Robe Jerimiah fought turned out to be a Robe of the Good Archmagii. Also there was a superman suit.), made a deal with some vampires (which his fearsome righteousness then blatted out of principle), didn’t drink from the well, and skipped another couple of rooms.

At this point, Enryk left us for a time.

We did the wall room. To do the Prismatic Wall, I used Limited Wish to duplicate the effects of a couple of other spells (no XP cost on Limited Wish to do this – unlike Wish), but most of the spells we could do no probs. Particularly since I had dropped a Mass Energy Resistance (fire) on everyone.

The Trolls we dealt with with the help of a Summon Elemental Monolith (fire) and some damage from the tanks. I screwed up the spell – the monolith must be concentrated on. We ignored the mimic. One of the shambling mounds was epic level (for the archer), and reflected Jerimiah II’s Antimagic Ray back at him. He ran like a girl.

We reached the workshop, where Enryk was waiting for us.

My character was given back his original name (Xavier – rhymes with ‘Sorcerer’ spoken with a vaguely french accent), and a fucking +8 cloak of charisma. Also a title: “Hand of the Emperor”, to celebrate having his hand cut off (in the mimic room, by a pissed-off barbarian just helping out).

And on to the final room, which I will not describe, saving only to say that we beat it and earned our key to descent to level 2 of the mountain. Xavier’s part in the victory was unspectacular but crucial – keeping something at bay while everyone else dealt with the other things.

So.

The real trick to DWO is to not try anything tricky. Combats are over in three rounds. Don’t hesitate to pull out the nuke straight away.

I found that Mass Fly was useful over and over. Mind Blank was crucial in one combat, and I decided to drop it on both of the tanks before entering the final room. A Sudden Widened, Sudden Maximized Fireball is a very fine roach bomb, although not much use on anything serious. Greater Invisibility is pretty much becoming a matter of course for Xavier – his AC is lousy and will never be that good in comparison to what we are up against. Displacement is the best defensive buff going, because at high levels the monsters always hit AC (because the base attacks are so high compared to the variable d20 – it’s AC 20 vs +45 to hit, or something more ridiculous). Disintegrate continues to work as a swiss army knife and bringer-downer of force effects.

Didn’t use Tactical Teleport at all, Mass Fly serving its purpose. But the real star is Limited Wish in its function of being able to duplicate another spell.

Also finding that there really isn’t time to use low-level spells at all. Scorching Ray does 12d6, which is nice. Didn’t use See Invisibility at all, but it earns its place.

These are the spells I had at lvl 19. I made lvl 20, so taking Time Stop and swapping something out. Oh – and an ability point!

I also have Rope Trick, Haste, and Spectral Hand in a Ring of Theurgy, but I think I might have been using that wrongly. Also have a Runestaff (Abjuration). I want many more. I want the set. They are awesome beyond words for a sorcerer.

0
Dazeno
Detect PoisonnoIf it’s liquid and its free in DWO, then its poison.
LightokNot needed, but it’s embarrasing not to be able to do this
Mage HandokCan be unexpectedly handy
MendingokPotentially useful?
MessagenoPointless
Prestidigokfor role playing: “Oh divine one, please permit me to clean this for you!”
Read MagicyesTo read the arches. A basic utility a mage must have.
Touch of Fatigueno
1 (5)
Exp Retreat (swift)yesto run to someone and buff them, to get out of trouble
Lesser Orb of Acidokwhen nothing else seems appropriate. =
Feather FallyesA must-have for a mage. A party saver.
Ray of EnfeebnoJust not enough.
True Strikeyes, butTakes a whole round to set up and use. This with Quicken – a must-have.
2 (5)
GlitterdustokSee Invisible for everyone else. But most invisible things in DWO are etheral, and the glitterdust falls through them.
Resist Energyokok, but mass resist makes it irrelevant.
Scorching RayokLike acid blob, a basic, cheap damage-dealer.
See InvisyesThis or True Sight.
Touch of IdiocynoGotta touch ’em. Screw that!
3 (4)
Dispel MagicyesAt low levels, yes. Need Greater as soon as you can get it.
DisplacementYes!The best defensive buff in the game. Invis is better, but you *want* the monsters targetting your tank.
FireballOkAnother basic damage dealer.
Greater Mage ArmourOkNeeded for mid levels. Also, can be used to buff monks, summoned creatures. But at high levels, items are better.
4 (4)
Assay ResistanceYES!Don’t argue. You need this spell.
Dimension DoorYes.Gets people out of trouble.
Greater InvisYES!Keeps a mage alive.
Mass Resist EnergyYES!Invaluable party buff. Not needed when you are with Enryk, but you aren’t always.
5 (4)
FeeblemindYesSal rules that it incapacitates pretty much anything.
Wall of ForceYESA variety of uses. Earns its living doing battlefeild control.
Arcane FusionMehNot the way I play.
Mass FlyYes.Many rooms are simply not a threat with this.
6 (3)
Tactical TeleportYes.Changes “Oh shit” to “Cool, I got this”
DisintegrateYES.Rogue-in-a-can. Fixes forcecages, forcewalls, and Bigby’s Hand spells – nothing else will, and they can fuck up your party a treat if the mage isn’t there to bring them down.
Greater Dispel MagicYES.A bread-and-butter spell.
7 (3)
Limited WishYES!God yeah. Emulates any Wiz spell of 6th level or lower. Any cleric spell of 5th or lower. Stone to Flesh. Remove Paralysis/Disease/Curse. Junglerazor. Locate Object. Plane Shift. Freedom of Movement. The ultimate swiss army knife.
Antimagic RayYesMay take a couple of goes, but changes a Beholder into a ball of buoyant fart gas.
Final Rebukeok.Havent used it. Save or die, Will. Good for big & bumb, but we have fighters for that.
8 (3)
Mind BlankYES.Buff the tanks Before they go into the vampire room.
Avasculate (7th)Yes.Biggest damage of the game.
Horrid WiltingMeh.Disappointing. Maximised was good, but I woluld like to have seen rows of the dead.
9 (2)
Sphere of Ultimate DestructionnoDissapointing. Disintegrate in a ball. Disintegrate is pointless a s a combat spell – it permits a fort save. And the ball just doesn’t move fast enough.
Summon Elemental MonolithYes.But you have to concentrate on it. Still, it’s a worthwhile way to spend your standard actions.


GG4 – A Hypothetical Future

11 June, 2012

Today was her third real assignment, and the first with real danger. Elizabeth – “Scuff”, now, to anyone that mattered – made her way to the rendezvous with String and James (an odd one, who disdained a codename). The palms of her hands sweated slightly, both because of the assignment, and because of who they had been assigned to. For their group of three was to do this mission with an agent. And not just any agent, but agent Orange.

Agent Orange. Like most senior agents, no-one knew where the truth ended and the stories began. A nonhuman, certainly. They said that he was 9 feet tall, that he moved like smoke, that he killed by simply terrifying grown men to death, leaving not a mark on their bodies. Not likely to be true. They also said that he was one of the best daggers in the lanterns. That may have been true. After all: someone had to be.

And they said that he had killed an apprentice on a mission, and saved the life of the Queen and the heir by doing it. And that no-one knew it – not even His Majesty – outside the lanterns. That – well, it didn’t matter if it was true or not. The mere fact that people repeated it was terrifying enough. This Agent Orange would not brook incompetence, but then: that’s the way it had to be.

They reached the rendezvous. One knock. “They’re here with the pizza!” came the countersign from inside. She recognised Stick’s (their trainer) voice. They entered. Stick asked simply “Are you ready to be briefed?”. “Yes sir!”, they replied, and the enormous shape in the shadows said “Orl right. Scuff, String, and James, isit? Let’s ave a butcher’s.”

Elizabeth, well, didn’t nearly faint from shock, but she could not hide her reaction. Agent Orange – Korgul – continued: “Right. I is Agent Orange. The O is for ‘Orc’, wot used to be my name, but it wos a bit of a giveaway, so now you know. Nah we ave a bit of tricky business tonight, but not so tricky we can’t ‘ave youse along. This is not a trainin exercise, and if yer stupid or careless yer may wind up dead fer real. Which would be an expensive shame. And yer not along ter observe, eiver, mainly cos it’s stupid bringin’ more bodies than yer need on a job. We needs four people, and us four are them. Nah, Stick will brief String and James fer a mo’ while I ave a chat ter Scuff ‘ere.”

He motioned Elizabeth over. “Unc…” she began, but was cut off. “That’s Agent Orange ter you, or just Orange. ‘Senior Agent Orange’ if we is being formal. Naah, I suppose yer have a couple of very predictable questions. Yer may as well ask ’em”.

“How long…”

“Orl your life girl, and a bit before. Dahn’t look so surprised – ‘oo d’yer fink sponsored yer?”

“Sponsored?”

“We is orl sponsored girl. First lanterns wos relatives of the king. Blokes ‘e knew ‘e could trust. Family. Friends. It’s grown a bit since then, but it’s still orl strictly personal recommendation. Ow else is yer goin ter do it, eh? Put a poster up “Wanted Royal Secret Agents” in the square?”

“Is Jason…”

“Naaah. Jace is a good kid, but never ‘ad the temperament fer this job. Remember the stories? Jace was orlways interested in loot an adventure. Sailin’. You, on the other ‘and, was orlways interested in fightin’, and particularly about rightin’ wrongs, fer want of a better way of puttin’ it. So, I fort pretty early on that you might be able ter be – well – if yer were given the chance ter come ‘ere, yer’d take it. Dahn’t look so ‘urt. Your story is not that uncommon ’round ere. There’s a few like you, got picked out early on. Second an third sons, mostly. Doesn’t make yer that special.”

Elizabeth thought through the questions she might ask next. All of them, on reflection, predictable and obvious. Then she said: “I got some good advice in an alley, once.”

“Oh. That. Well, bendin’ the rules a little. More skirting arahnd ’em really. We don’t expect people ter not be ‘uman – it’s natchural yer’d want yer sponsord friend or relative ter do ok. Nah bullshit fanatical loyalty ter the king before anyfink – pointless ter expect it. But if yer got a bit of a conflict of interest, yer manage it an dahn’t try ter hide it. The main thing wiv sponsorin’ is not ter cheat ter get someone froo trainin’ and examination that they would ‘ave failed otherwise. It’s dangerous fer everyone. But I dan’t fink I did that. Bit of a judgment call, I suppose. Anyfink else?”

Elizabeth thought for a second, and replied “No. Not that I can think of right now. I should get to the briefing.” “Dahn’t worry too much abaht that for a mo,” said Korgul. “Stick’s just answerin’ their questions abaht me. They want ter know if the stories are true.” “And are they?”, she asked. “Some is, some isn’t.”, Korgul replied. “Does it matter which?”. The question hung in the air for a moment.

“No.”, she answered, “we’ll just do the job.” “Attagirl. Orlways fort yer’d do orlright. We’ll find out if I was right.”

The walked over to the group. “Orlright”, Korgul – Orange – announced. I have not got maps for yer, because yer should know this area of the city well enough not ter need ’em. …”

And so it began. Or perhaps, continued.