PFS – Week 1

14 February, 2013

Played the intro PFS game at Good Games Lanyon yesterday. I was on my own (sniff!) until a couple of guys from my Wednesday game showed up.

Without too many spoilers, the intro scenario was four basic missions:

  • A diplomacy/fact-finding job
  • A skilly, environmental challenge
  • A puzzle-solving effort
  • A fight

Followed by a concluding big(ish) fight. I critted a bad guy in the face with an Alchemists Fire. Booyah!

I have built a Tengu rogue working for Qadira faction, on the basis that their missions tend to be skulduggery and pinching stuff. You can adjust your character for free until the first level up. I really should look at what I want to make him into, rather than just randomly picking feats. Kukri crit-monkey TWF? Stealthy sneaker? Bluff/diplomacy rogue? He was good at everything except fighting, but pfs games often don’t involve a lot of that. With Str as a dump stat, he’s going to have to rely on sneak attack damage and rogue talents to make SA nastier.

The other guys played pregens – Doug with another Rogue, Andrew with a Cleric, and other guy with a fighter. We had no arcane and two rogues, so it was not a properly rounded party. But no major problems.

I suspect that PFS is better if you get into the background material and participate more. As always, you get out of it what you put into it.

GG5 – Urban Survival

12 February, 2013

I attempted an urban adventure this week – a change of pace from “here are some monsters, fight ’em!”. Doing this requires improv, which is just something that I am not awesome at. But I know someone who is, and by a twist of fate this week of all weeks the man himself was there at the shop.

I am, of course, talking about Matt.

Matt isn’t playing this campaign. He has, like, a job or something and can’t be there Mondays. Yeah, I know: obviously his priorities are screwed up. But spending a while more or less broke and then not being broke anymore will do that to a bloke.

Anyway. I ran into him in the bottle shop – funny story there, too – and described the night’s game which I was hoping to run. He sat in and very kindly took over to describe the scene where the players met a lord of the dragon clan (we are using l5r as background flavour for the elves).

It was just as I remember – vivid, memorable, and players shutting up because they were keen to hear what happens next. I was as enthralled as everyone else.

Anyway. This was what went down.

So the two brothers Haddock and Sam reunite at the agreed-on rendezvous, and Haddock announces that they will sail again in a week, so they may as well hit the tavern. Miston cuts in and says that he would like an escort around town, say about four of the more presentable members of crew.

John, Daniel, Drewf and Brendan. Don’t know the character’s names yet. Wizard, Alchemist, Bard, and I think sorcerer. Yes, I know what you are all thinking: oops, this could be a problem.

The first day or two passes uneventfully. They do some shopping, tag along after Miston as he visits the libraries in the clan quarter of town and some less reputable spots. After the first day, the other group have gone off on a paid job somewhere.

The town is, is … restless. The bard makes enquiries. First, a elven child has been abducted. Second, in a few days there will be a lunar eclipse. Bad times, and people are planning on staying safe indoors over the inauspicious interval.

By chance, one of them mentions this to Miston. He is alarmed, and asks them to please investigate. The child is of the dragon clan, and it is there they make their first call.

They march up to the front door of the Dragon Clan compound – an embassy, perhaps, or a holiday villa. The bard works his wiles and persuades the guards on the door to go get the butler, who is likewise persuaded to see if the master is receiving visitors. It seems he is, and the party are conducted in.

The bard got his chance to shine. To tell the truth, most of this week’s play was me and Brendan, with interjections from the always irrepressible Daniel. It’s nice to give the bard something to do other than sing his song while everyone else is fighting the monsters.

This is the bit where Matt took over for a while. I can’t do it justice.

They were conducted to a large chamber where, in silence, they participated in a tea ceremony. The tea was drugged, of course, and the Lord’s Lady checked out the party magically, announcing “this is not they” at the end.

Released from thier enscorcelment, they offered thier respects. The rat-man and the human mage were politely rebuffed, but Brendan’s half-elf bard and Drewf’s Ifrit Sorceress were welcomed more warmly – particularly in view of the the sorceress’ command of Ignan.

After a fair bit of table-talk, Lord Tatsuo (?) announced that since fate had sent these to him, that’s what he would work with. His daughter had been kidnapped while shopping about town. He had been hoping to receive a ransom demand, but in view of the fact that he hadn’t got one – well, that was bad news.

“Perhaps it is well that you are not of the clans. What I tell you now must remain in confidence – will you agree to this?” The players agreed, and truthfully (so not running afoul of the Zone of Truth). “Very well – I will tell you this: our daughter has power. Power that she must not use.”

Dun dun dun! And after a bit more, they depart. Having not discussed money. They turn the kid’s room over for diary clues, but nothing there. Then it’s off to town, to check out the route she took on the day.

Dragon clan are mystics. Class-wise, they tend to be monks. They inhabit a mountainous, volcanic set of islands to the north of the rift. As for the cold shoulder to the rat-man and human: ok, he might be a good guy; doesn’t mean he isn’t racist.

Campaign-wise, I wanted the characters to make peaceful contact with some of the elves. As Daniel pointed out: “these are the first elves that haven’t been trying to kill us”.

So they went and spoke to some shopkeepers, waving about a dragon-clan seal. Eventually they tacked her down to a alleyway, a shortcut that she and her four guards took. Signs of struggle? Possibly, but although out-of-the-way, the alley is not unused. Difficult to tell. There was a street-kid clumsily inserted into the alley. The bard tried to fascinate him, and the wizard to approach him, but he beat the save and took off.

The party pursued him over a open hatch for some bakery’s underground oven. They nearly cornered him at an alley, but he managed to scamper over the wall and across a crowded street – the party in pursuit. Finally he tried getting over a roof but slid back: the bard tripping him with his whip. Finally cornered, the party commenced to question the frightened and sullen kid.

We used the paizo chase cards. It went ok – I’ll use ’em again. The main problem for a DM is that you have to have a backup plan for what happens if the party don’t catch him.

And all they really got out of him was that it was ninjas what did it. So they decided to check the bad part of town. They proceed to make clumsy enquiries (Drewf or John rolled a 2) and were ambushed by 4 ninjas!

But these ninjas were crap. Two falling to a Colour Spray, and two simply being killed. After regaining consciousness, the bard proceeded to intimidate the crap out of them (need to check the rules – is there a limit to how far you can shift someone’s attitude with repeated intimidate attempts?). The ninjas revealed that the girl was being taken to Takaoka (High Hill) by some gaijin.

Everyone is “OMG, we is goig to die!”, but the spellcasters did just fine, even without fighters.

The ninjas were then permitted to commit ritual suicide.

Then it’s back to Miston to ask where TF Takaoka might be.

I gave ’em a geography, nature, local and I think arcana check to know about this hill, but they persisted in rolling crap.

So next week – heading out to a high hill, killing some dudes, and rescuing an elf. Yay! It’s that simple – what could go wrong?

Correct way to pack

12 February, 2013

And here is how you do it right.


Appropriately sized box. Nothing rattling around inside:

Packing tape, not masking tape:

Thorough taping on all seams:

Paperwork right where you want it:

Larger items individually wrapped:

Smaller items in boxed to keep them from moving:

This guy gets a straight-up five-star rating.

Without further comment.

11 February, 2013

Re: eBay item 170980552470

Skull and Shackles – Cannibal Isle.

9 February, 2013

After a player dropping out, we retconned Tidewater Rock and had Salty Bob marry the mistress of said stone. She preferred Aliza, but Aliza refused the match.


After taking our two prizes – a warship and a merchantman – we decided what was to be done with them. The warship we sent back to the rock. The merchantman we accompanied back to Rickety Squib’s for sale. And he were taken back a mite that we had brought him yet another ship and crew. Able to take it on, though.

I were starting to think that, seeing as we were legitimate proprietors ‘o Tidewater Rock, perhap we should charge a fee rather than taking the whole ship. Keep the area free ‘o pirates and such rabble. 10% of the goods, perhaps.

In any event, after a bit ‘o shopping we set sail for home. But Mork were in an adventurous mood, so we agreed to heave to at an island and do a raid.

Well, there were a village, right enough. And full of savage warriors it were, at least 50 or maybe more. And they were in the middle of some ceremony – chanting and suchlike. I used a tooth which I had prepared with Comprehend Language, and the chanting were all “Blood! Blood! Blood for the Blood-God!”.

For flavour reasons, Salty Bob’s prepared scrolls are scrimshaw.

Well, we were happy to oblige. Mork and Vorok stepped up to do some damage, but Aliza noticed that there were some men on litters – motionless they were, strapped in. No doubt they be prestst or wizards, lost in whate’r they were about. So she put a Magic Missile into him. There was a scream from the forest, and the barbarians increased their frenzy.

More of the savages came, and then from the sand of the beach emerged a horror – a great worm or centipede, tall as a ship’s mast it were. And I’ll tell ‘ee lad, we looked at the thing, exchanged a glance, and bolted.

But although the thing were slow, the savages were not. And they were in their element – we could not outrun them. So we chose a chokepoint and made our stand.

They had barbarian levels, so had fast movement.

There were two dozen of them, coming at us three and four at a time. Aliza used her spells, and Mork just stood there killing one after another. I called curses down from Besmara over and over.

SB has versatile channeller and selective channel. 2d6 negative energy in a 30′ radius.

But when there were only four or five left, one of the bastards got a lucky hit and felled Mork. Then they advanced towards us, who were not nearly so able to fend them off.

It were a close thing. A very, very close thing. But we managed to kill the last of them between us. Mork were dead outright, I though, so I gave Vorok a little magic. But then Aliza looked at Mork and unbelivably he spat up sme blood. Still breathing! But only just.

Those “Plot Twist” cards to the rescue, again. Andrew (I think) had a card labelled “Best Day Ever”, and the DM pemitted it. Whew!

I used my most potent magics on Mork, and we resumed running. On reaching the shore, I used my hat – Besmara’s Tricorn – and transformed it into a boat, and we got out of there.

So it goes to show, lad, although I’m not sure what. Don’t poke a hornet’s nest without need, perhaps.

Keegan reckons that he pulled no punches, but he was letting the channel negatives do full damage without rolling the will save 😮 . I couldn’t roll over a five. The Blood God was CR 20. There were something like 30 barbarians in all.

We are now level 6. This means Aliza gets Fireball (I expect). Fun times!

No more Holy Grail

9 February, 2013

The Holy Grail is closing.

It’s – kinda weird for me. I have been going there for 15 years. Maybe more. I was going back when it was good, when it was half the size and you had to dress up to get in. People packed in, bar staff dancing on the bar. Good times.

It never really recovered from the expansion, you know. The atmosphere was gone. Even so, it coasted along for years with the crowd it had. Believe it or not, it was classy: $5 cover charge on even a regular night, $10 if there was a band.

I remember when Holy Grail Civic was good – Swallow on stage, so many people the whole place was a mosh pit, looking like nothing so much as the thunderstruck video. Then Ian got rid of the live bands and put on a DJ, and the drug users took over the place.

Civic closed, and Kingston has been a dive for a long, long time. Three quarters empty, piped rap and R&B, Ne-Yo, Usher, and Whitney’s “I wanna dance with somebody” on high rotation. So, not a big surprise, really. Ian is an old man, now. Perhaps being shmoozed by chicks who want to hang out with the owner has lost it’s zing.

And now? I dunno. Some of the most important changes in my life had that place as background. Being in a band, my deconversion. Spend a lot of time there. Spent a lot of money, too. I spent my thirties there. And in a few days, it will simply be gone.

Lincoln in His Lover’s Nightgown

8 February, 2013

Re: Lincoln in His Lover’s Nightgown

So why didn’t the scriptwriter Tony Kushner, a staunch gay rights activist who ‘personally believe[s] that there is some reason to speculate that Lincoln might have been bisexual or gay’, include any of that speculation in the film? … Kushner said:

I wanted to write about a very specific moment …

Not very convincing.

Goddamnit. You talk to a christian, and everything that happens is somehow about christianity. Talk to a scientologist or a PETA activist and every little thing that goes on is seen through the lens of their particular thing.

Can’t a filmmaker – who as it happens is gay – simply not drag in the topic because it’s irrelevant and would slow the movie down?

Of course yes. But according to Tariq Ali, apparently not. It seems that he is unable to comprehend a gay man whose interests are broader and more varied than harping on about teh ghey nonstop.

Well done, Kushner, BTW.