Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy belated Christmas!

I have a game log from the 3rd that I need to put up here. I haven't finished it since on the 17th we played Roman's D&D Midnight game (I think we fought something or another two or three times). But, a Christmas-y legend from my own game world:

In the woods dwelled Otórno and Séler, brother and sister. One day, Séler went out to dig for groundwater. In her haste, she dug fast and sloppy, and broke the roots of an old tree. The roots turned into snakes, and came at Séler. She screamed and ran to her brother for help.

Otórno saw the snakes coming, and saw that there were too many of them. “The ground is cursed! If we slay them, more will come. We must flee.” And so the two siblings took to the road.

On the road, they spied three friends of theirs. One of them, Fíndo, came up to them and asked them to halt. The siblings did so, and greeted their friends with open arms. However, the three friends drew their blades, and tried to kill the siblings, but Otórno drew his sword and killed them.

That night, the two stayed in an old barn. Otórno, tired from his fight, went to sleep fast, but Séler stayed up. At midnight, a human came to the barn, bleeding from wounds. Séler had never met a human before, and she took him to the loft, away from her sleeping brother, and dressed his wounds. He called himself Allútto, and Séler was smitten with him.

The next day, Otórno went to hunt and his sister stayed behind, not telling her brother of the human in the loft. Séler and Allútto made love, but Séler said her brother would never think of a human being the lover of any elf maiden, much less his sister. So the two hatched a plan.

When Otórno came back, he saw that his sister was sick. “How can I heal you, o Séler?” he asked.

“O brother, my sickness is great. With the claw of the brown bear, the poison of the steppe spider, and the whisker of a tiger, I can brew a drought that will heal my woes.”

Although he knew getting these things would be plightful, Otórno set out that night to do that. He stalked a brown bear to her den, but the bear saw him first. Otórno said a prayer before he struck. “O bear, I do not wish to kill you, but I need your claw to save my sister from an illness.”

Instead of striking, the bear spoke. “O Otórno, there is no need to fear or harm! One of my claws was hurt when I was hunting for my cubs. Please, come to me and take out the hurtful claw, and you may keep it.” So the bear held forth her paw, and Otórno went to her, and pulled out the loose claw.

“Thank you for healing my woe, Otórno. If you should need my help, call for me.” And so the bear bade Otórno on his way.

Otórno then went to the edge of the woods to look for a steppe spider. There he saw the web of one, he snuck up to it. However, the spider felt the ground from his footsteps, and spoke. “O elf, why do you come to me with your hand raised to strike?”

Otórno stepped back, amazed, but said, “O spider, I do not wish to harm you, but my sister is ill, and she needs a drought made from your poison to heal her.”

The spider cackled a high tweet. “O elf, such as an odd thing to put in a draught! But grab an acorn and take off the top, and let me fill it with my venom for you.” And so the spider filled the acorn, and Otórno took the acorn. “Thank you for sparing my life! Feel free to ask for help at a later time, elf.” Otórno took his acorn, hollowed out the nut, and put both halves together for safekeeping.

Otórno then went northeast, to the great steppe. He saw a tiger, and this time, he walked up to her, slowly and with hands open before him. “O tiger, I seek a boon from you. My sister is ill, and needs one of your whiskers to brew the draught to save her life. Would you let me have one of your whiskers to save her?”

The tiger looked at him, and nodded. “There is a whisker on the right side of my mug that has an infection. Please pluck it to let the pock drain, and you may keep it for your sister.” Otórno nodded, and walked up to the tiger and plucked the ailing whisker. He stepped back, holding the whisker.

The tiger pushed her paw to a rock. “Go now, elf, and save your sister. I thank you for easing my hurt, and will gladly help you if you need it. Take this rock, and blow into it, for it is hollow. I shall come to your side to help you when I hear the call.”

Otórno raced back to the barn, only to find his sister and Allútto making love. The two grabbed the stunned elf. “How did you live, Otórno?” asked Séler. “Any one of those beasts should have killed you.” She and Allútto took away Otórno's sword, and bound him to an old chair with spider silk.

However, they left the rock on the ground. As the two lovers lifted the sword to kill Otórno, Otórno leaned over and the chair fell to the ground. He got his mouth to the rock and blew into it. The rock made a wretched din, shocking Séler and Allútto long enough for the tiger, the spider, and the bear to rush into the barn. The spider stung Allútto, the tiger mauled him to death, and the bear hit the back of the chair with her paw, breaking it. Allútto in death turned into a small, skinny doppelgänger, his true shape.

Otórno, now free, picked up his sword and went to his frightened sister. “O brother, I did not know! How can I show my love for you?”

Otórno pointed to a barrel in the corner and said, “Cry into this. When it is full, prick your finger and mix your blood into it. If you do so, I shall spare your life.” Séler leaned over the barrel and wept for hours. When the barrel was full, she pushed her finger onto the tip of Otórno's sword, and let her blood mix with the tears. With that, Otórno left, thinking his sister still loved him. But she did not, as she was upset that Otórno slew her lover, and swore she would get back at him.

Otórno, not knowing that his sister's ruefulness was a sham, set out on the road again. When he came to the edge of the woods, he heard the neigh of a reindeer from above. No sooner could he see what made the din than a sleigh came down and knocked him down.

When he awoke, an orange-haired elf maiden was wiping his brow. He saw he was in an odd house with other elves. The elf maiden, whose name was Háryē, told him that he could not leave, as Tyáliu, an evil wizard, had nabbed him. Tyáliu made odd gadgets with the magic of the elves, and every year on the first day of winter Tyáliu would take these gadgets, then come back without them. He rode a magic sleigh that nine smart reindeer pulled, with the one in the lead having a glowing red nose. Otórno blew his rock horn, but no beasts came, as he was too far away.

Otórno set to work making gadgets, and grew to love Háryē. After a few years, the two hatched a plan to flee Tyáliu. One night, when Tyáliu was asleep, the two stole his magic sleigh and one of the reindeer to pull it.

They set down in the lands of Háryē's father, who was an elf king, and the two wed. Séler heard of the king's new son-in-law, and put on a guise of an old woman. After the wedding, she gave the newlyweds a bone as a wedding gift, and said they should put it in their bed for good luck. When they did so and went to sleep, the bone pricked the skin of Otórno, and he died from the poison Séler had put on the bone.

Háryē wept, then thought of Otórno's rock horn. She blew it, and soon came the bear, the spider, and the tiger. The bear and the tiger licked Otórno's mug, and the spider wove a web to keep him warm. Otórno awoke, and harkened for the guards to get the old woman.

Once the old woman was there, Otórno pulled off her cloak and found that she was his sister, Séler. He drew his sword and ran his sister through, and snakes spilled out of her dead body.

Oh, and Tyáliu, the Christmas element. Elves say Tyáliu is a human wizard who enslaves elves. Fat, old, and bearded, he rides a sleigh that, when his team of nine reindeer pulls it, flies and can bear a seemingly limitless load. The reindeer have IQ 8, Flight, Enhanced Move 4; the lead one lets out Continual Light from his red nose. Tyáliu has an Altered Time Sense field that he can extend to his reindeer. He keeps his elf slaves in his workshop in the cold north where they make on odd gadgets, including small golems, with their elf magic throughout their waking hours. On each winter solstice, he piles all these gadgets into his sleigh and leaves, coming back the next day with no gadgets. No one knows where he goes, but tales say he brings the gadgets to small beings of another plane. Elf parents talk about Tyáliu to scare their children, and folks say that Tyáliu has nabbed any elf who has been away for many years.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Game log 19 November 2017: The dead need to stay that way

Dramatis personae

Ash, a squire (John)
Xóran, a fox-man scout (Roman)
Kim, a thief (John)
Mayhem, a short barbarian (Steph)
Caleb, a yellow-robe wizard (Joe)
Kôštē, a cleric (GMPC)
Villûdē, a guide (NPC)

Quid occurrit

First up, they heal themselves after the fight against the mummy and skeletons. Ash takes the broadsword from the skeleton, while Xóran takes the other from the mummy.

Then they head south. Right away, they find themselves in a room with many skeletons lying in beds, which Caleb incinerates with a Blast Ball. Caleb stars in the next room to the south of that one, spotting some Evil Runes, casting Levitate on himself to float over them, then casting Explode on the floor to make the jump over them easy enough for everyone to do it.

After a few twists and turns, they find themselves in a smithy, with rusty swords. Kim is able to find a flagstone in the floor on the western wall, and, after letting everyone rest again, pulls it up, opening a door on that wall.

They go through the door and into a garden of mushrooms. Xóran tosses a meal of rations (he never said what, but one figures some of the monster meat they’ve been keeping) at the mushrooms, which do nothing. The mushrooms have grown a little bigger than a fist, with a flat top and a rusty hue. Caleb has seen them before in one of his books and knows that they can raise one’s heart rate enough if in a potion, but has trouble harvesting. The only way out is a hallway to the south. Kim, after covering her face and nose, takes a moment to listen down the hall, but hears nothing.

Kim and Xóran lead the gang into it and take a turn, and see it lined with pretty paintings. Xóran, Kôštē and Villûdē stare at one to the north that is of a sage, while Kim stares agape at one of a wizard on the south wall. As Caleb casts Create Fire on the painting of the sage to break their gaze, a woman in a pink dress walks into the edge of their light.

Ash grabs a sack and puts it over Kim’s head as the woman walks towards them. In accented Mannish, she tells them to put away their weapons. Xóran, needless to say, nocks and arrow and fires; the woman dodges. “Please save your arrows for later, I could use them,” she tells them. Caleb lobs an Explosive Fireball at her, but she also dodges that’s blast and swiftly moves towards them.

Something is amiss with this woman. Whatever it is, Xóran drops his bow and draws his swords. Kim pulls off her makeshift mask and she turns, while Mayhem, who has started to move towards the woman, spots a fetching painting and stares at it. Everyone else moves to fight, and the woman wiggles her fingers.


Xóran howls, which doesn’t bother the woman in the slightest. Ash moves up to strike, but misses, as likewise does Caleb. Luckily, Caleb also missed Ash. The woman swats Ash with her staff, which Ash parries. While everyone still moves to fight, Ash takes another swing at the woman, and this time hits her. It doesn’t do as much damage as he would have though, however—something is amiss with this sword!

Villûdē slaps Mayhem, and Caleb casts Flaming Weapon on Mayhem’s axe. The blonde woman in the pink dress suddenly looks less cute to Xóran and Ash after she waves her hand, with Xóran stunned. Forever after will he not trust blonde human women. Kim takes a shot at the woman and misses, and luckily also misses Xóran. Mayhem rushes forward to strike, but breaks Caleb’s spell as he does so.

Ash knows something is amiss in spite of this woman’s evil eye, and takes another swing. However, her brace of her staff to his blow makes him drop his sword. No! Not his beloved new sword! The woman starts to back off, and the gang moves to press her. Mayhem makes a wild swing and misses, and Caleb misses with a Fireball. Ash grabs his sword as the woman wiggled her fingers.

Xóran snaps awake to see that the gang had moved a bit down the hallway. The woman parries Mayhem’s swing, then tries to make a swing at Ash who then parries. Things are like this for a few seconds—Mayhem and Ash pressing the woman back, while she keeps parrying. Kim takes a couple of shots in there, while Xóran sees a picture on the wall of the blonde woman—the one of which the whisper in his ear spoke. Unluckily, Xóran again stares at it like an idiot. Caleb moves forward with the Continual Light torch, and yells at the others to keep the woman in the light.

The woman keeps stepping back, and Mayhem drops his axe and grabs some rope. As the rest slink back, he tries to snare the woman with his rope, but misses. Ash stabs the picture of the blonde woman with the sword, snapping Xóran awake again. Caleb gets the woman with a small fireball, who backs off. Xóran awakes, and reaches behind the picture and takes the emeralds, and gives one to each of the others, keeping the rest. They turn and leave the dungeon, and make sure to slash the paintings as they do so.

They relaxed outside, as the evil turkeys were asleep.

Res aliae

Roman’s nephew Joe played Caleb and Chris’s cousin Steph played Mayhem. Ten character points for the last two sessions.

The players know what’s amiss with the blonde woman—she’s a lich—but the characters don’t.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Game log 5 November 2017: Inside the tomb of deadly deathful death

Dramatis personae

Ash, squire
Kim, thief
Xórin, fox-man scout
Caleb, wizard
Mayhem, short barbarian
Kôštē, cleric
Villûdē, guide who held the horses

Quid occurrit

They quickly got the horses inside and shut the door, lest the evil turkeys kill the horses. From there, they started down the stairs. Kim went first, and when she stepped on a flagstone at the bottom, a strange music played. Loudly.

Kim was also blind, so Caleb told everyone else to jump off the stairs lest they step on it and go blind too. They took stock of the room, and found they were in the middle of a good-sized room. Instead of normal corners, the walls went slantwise, making an irregular octagon. There were four ways out: one to their west, one to their south, and two to their east. Kim’s sight came back after a few minutes, so they started west.

After a short flight of stairs down, they found themselves in a room with scorch marks. There had been a four-poster bed, but only some of the posts were left, the rest gone, likely having gone up in flames. On the south wall were scorched bookshelves, with no hint of the books that had been on them.

They heard a rustling in the wreck of the bed. Ash went to check it out, and a carpet viper struck at him. It missed his legs, and Ash cut off its head. Caleb tried to get some poison out of its fangs but couldn’t, while Mayhem took its body for later eating.

On the south end of the room, Kim saw that there was a door in the southwest corner. Caleb came near and felt its magic aura, but nobody could find a keyhole or other way of triggering it. Caleb thought it had a command word, but, being Caleb, blasted it with an Acid Jet. Nothing. Kim yelled out, “Open sezme!” but nothing happened other than Kim sounding dumb.

They walked back to first room, and found there was a squad of six skeletons. It was a short fight, with Xórin falling down and trying to kick a skeleton while on the ground but missing, Kim dropping her sword, and Caleb, after lobbing a Fireball, trying a new idea: Flaming Weapon on Kim’s dagger. Kim didn’t hit, however, and wound up picking up her sword. While she did so, she saw the words “Undying fame” on one of the skeletons’ blades. As she did so, five big centipedes came, but after Xórin killed two with his two strikes, the others fled.

They sat down for a rest. However, after only a few minutes, four skeletons came from the northern-most of the two eastern hallways. Caleb mostly held his torch with Continual Light, not wanting to waste his energy, while the gang quickly took care of the skeletons, with only Kim getting hurt. From there, they rested to let Caleb be at full strength, and then went down the south hallway. It did nothing but curl around and come back to the room with the stairs as the hallway in the southern of the two east wall hallways.

Though they thought that “undying fame” might open the door in the scorched room, they chose to go down the one hallway they hadn’t checked out—the northern one on the east wall. After a few turns, they came to a room, with eleven shady beings—skeletons, with one in bandages.

They held the breech as the hallway became room lest the skeletons put them in the middle, and two skeletons, one with a broadsword (the others had shortswords), came up to strike Kim and Xórin. After some misses, Ash and Mayhem moved to the sides, and Caleb, seeing the bandages on the one, started casting Flaming Weapon on Ash’s sword. It was a good move, as more skeletons came up to fight, the one with the bandages came into full sight—a mummy. This frightened Kim into doing nothing.

The gang held its ground, and the mummy moved up to strike Xórin after he felled a skeleton. Caleb cast Flaming Weapon on Xórin’s swords, and Ash tried to hit the mummy. Instead, he dropped his sword. A skeleton hit Mayhem, but he held his cool, and the mummy, trying to end Xórin’s life, dropped his sword. Xórin, for his blow, hit the mummy, but couldn’t get through the mummy’s armor, Caleb started casting Flaming Weapon on Xórin’s other sword. Kôštē, the cleric, moved up to Kim. Mayhem took out a skeleton, while Ash reached to grab his sword.

The mummy lunged for the knight in shining armor and tried to bite Ash. Ash’s armor stopped him, but he lost his grip on his shield. The cleric moved Kim out of the way while Ash tried to do the same to the mummy, but couldn’t. Mayhem’s axe nicked Mayhem’s leg. Caleb got off Flaming Weapon, lighting up Xórin’s second sword.

And the mishaps kept going, with a skeleton, trying to hit Ash, hitting the mummy in the back. The mummy, realizing that it couldn’t get through Ash’s armor, tried to bite Ash’s face, but missed. It was near enough that its spit would have dripped onto Ash’s face if it still were alive and had spit. Xórin, seeing the opening, stepped behind the mummy and put both hit swords into its back. The mummy dropped, and a voice came into Xórin’s head, saying, “Thank you. Your reward is behind the painting of the blonde woman in the hall.” Xórin, of course, had no idea what that meant.

Kim, after the cleric’s jostling, snapped back to the world. Ash got his sword and shield ready, and Kôštē, seeing him hurt, moved up to Xórin. The skeletons let out a flurry of blows, but only hurt Mayhem, who dropped his axe trying to ward off the blow. Mayhem gritted his teeth and punched the skeleton, doing nothing to it. Kim got back into the fight, Ash smacked a skeleton, and Xórin tried to take out a skeleton, not bothering to defend. He missed, and Kôštē got up to Xórin cast Major Healing on him. This was good, as a skeleton hit Xórin right after that.

Xórin again went all out, ignoring the pain, and tried to take out a skeleton, but dropped his sword. Mayhem grabbed his axe, while Kôštē cast Minor Healing on Xórin. Xórin came back and took out a skeleton, while Kim’s sword broke. Mayhem and Ash both hit but couldn’t take down skeletons. A skeleton stepped up and smacked Xórin, while another hurt Kim to where she was dizzy and seeing stars. She staggered, but stayed up.

Mayhem took down a skeleton, while Caleb and Kôštē handled healing—Caleb gave Xórin a Minor Healing potion while Kôštē cast Major Healing on Kim. Mayhem and Ash took down the last two.

Res aliae

Roman’s nephew Joseph was supposed to join us with a new character (a holy warrior), but slept in. Roman, who was supposed to bring a new character (a war cleric), instead ran Caleb, while I handled Mayhem. With the NPCs, I often let the players direct what they do in a fight as much as reasonable. I don’t want to be handling NPCs and leaving the players on the sidelines.

So, how do you handle gaming after your gaming buddy of 15 years died? Surprisingly quickly. As a result of being in the nursing home, our games went truly slowly. We had to deal with Chris’s meal times and sometimes wound dressings, so it took awhile to even start games. One of the front desk staff was a busybody and at one point made us move for no good reason (an administrator who saw it told us as much), there were the aging zombies who had never seen a roleplaying game, and the usual friendly chatter on top of all that. I wouldn’t have traded those last months of Chris gaming for a fast game, but I did like things flowing fast again.

For some reason, I had critical successes on parries become automatic hits against the original attacker. While this wasn’t according to Hoyle (and I had to explain that phrase to Roman for some reason during the game, incidentally; obviously, Roman’s father didn’t have Hoyle’s book of card games in his house!), it did speed things up a bit since the parry often took down a skeleton. No, I shan’t do it again, as it’s a bit much; I wasn’t thinking.

Two other matters for the players here, that happened at the end but I didn’t resolve as we were leaving:

  • Everyone will lose FP according to their encumbrance level. Yes, this means the cleric and Caleb will lose 2 FP, which will make everyone rest even more.
  • Caleb can see that both the mummy’s and the skeleton’s broadsword are magical. No, he doesn’t have Analyze Magic so he can’t be more specific.

A last note on Mayhem: running him made me realize just how well optimized Chris made him. Chris originally made him many years ago, for GURPS Third Edition. We updated him to GURPS Fourth Edition and tweaked things to fit the point level, which at first weakened him. But, now, the guy swings his SM -1 greataxe and parries as, for him, it isn’t unbalanced, and he’s at no encumbrance (ST 15, and armor sized for SM -1). He doesn’t have the reach a bigger barbarian would have, but he’s a tough little bugger.

Two days after the session, Roman and I went to Chris’s funeral. Roman, who also went to the visitation (I had to get stuff done at work before the funeral, and am not one for open caskets), put one of his minis in the casket with Chris, and I got to be a pallbearer at the cemetery. At the funeral, we may have picked up another player. Life works in strange ways.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Chris Lutgen, 7/2/1956-11/1/2017

I first met Chris at Phoenix Games on West Lake Street in Minneapolis. The shop was the descendant of the fabled Little Tin Soldier that Dave Arneson and so many of the original Blackmoor frequented. It's not there anymore, it being only a storefront now in Minnetonka or some other 'burb to the west, after the owner, a fellow named Neil who owned the original Phoenix Games out in Burnsville and told me that when he first gamed with Arneson, he didn't get what the hell was going on, chose to move rather than pay for the upcoming street repairs in 2008.

Anyways, back to the summer of 2002. My wife worked second shift from Tuesday to Saturday in those days, and we had no kids. I hadn't yet tried to go back to college, though I knew my bachelor's wasn't getting me jobs. I had loads of free time in the evenings, and I kept trying to get into new gaming groups. So one Saturday, I wandered down to Phoenix where, like so many American gaming stores, folks showed up to game. It was in the middle of the D20 boom, so D&D was the name of the game, which I had picked back up again a year before after ditching it for GURPS all the time. Being a purist didn't help get into groups.

That afternoon, I saw there was a game getting ready, and one of the players was a guy named Tommy whom I knew casually. Thus, I asked Dan, the bespectacled GM about my age (I was in my late twenties), if I could get in. Sure, second level, starts in about an hour or so. I told him I had a human monk I had played the year before and was second level back at my apartment, and I'd go get it. (In those days, I lived on West Franklin Avenue, eight blocks north. It was a short bike ride home and back, or maybe I walked. I don't remember and don't care.) And so I did, bringing along Ichanko, my monk.

When I got there, I played D&D. I remember Tommy getting pissed and storming off after failing a saving throw to dodge a spear that came out of the ground, even after it was established that going over the middle of the cavern meant you had to make a DC 15 Reflex save or take a spear to your balls. I remember a guy who was playing the halfling boatman who liked "shinies." I remember Lea, a woman about ten years older than I playing a ranger, and Mike, a mustachioed man about the same age as Lea and was often befuddled about whatever character he was playing. There was a big guy, Travis, and one other fellow whose name I no longer remember who left when Tommy left; the two were friends IIRC. Shawn, I think that's his name. And there was a pudgy middle-aged fellow with glasses, a wispy mustache and thin hair who brought the minis. He played Lars, a fighter/cleric of Kord.

The next week, the pudgy middle-aged fellow with the minis ran a game, and I played a necromancer. He ran one of the Slave Lords adventures. A few weeks later, we ran down a hallway and some hands grabbed at my necromancer's pouches and got his spell component pouch, which brought an in-character tirade that brought the store to the floor laughing. I got 50 XP for roleplaying, and have been gaming with that DM, Chris Lutgen, ever since. I'll keep from all the tales for this post, but there was chatting, gaming, a Roger Waters concert, eating out, all the things friends do.

About mid-February of this year, we had a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game in Chris's apartment. Chris was playing Caleb and Mayhem; Caleb he took over for a player who decided he didn't like the game, and Mayhem was a long-standing character idea Chris had made for GURPS 3e. The game was bi-weekly on Sundays, but when John, who plays Kim and Ash, called up (John's always first to show up at a game), Chris told him he wasn't feeling well. John relayed this information to me, and I shrugged and went about my day, which was likely laundry or schoolwork. Chris wasn't in the greatest of health, and frankly there were times I was glad that we were now gaming at his apartment rather than at the gaming store since that meant Chris couldn't wuss out because of the cold. (And there were times it was really wussy, too. Thirty degrees and no wind and a half inch of snow? That's nothing to us up here.) So I knew it was best to let him recover.

Two weeks later, however, John got no response when he called up. Which also brought a phone call to me. I reached out to Chris's brother on Facebook, and found that no, his brother had no idea where Chris was either. And so that day his brother Paul, Roman (the other player in our group, and the only one with a car), and I were calling various nursing homes and hospitals and, well, morgues. Chris had diabetes and heart conditions. It was either Monday or Tuesday that Roman (I think; it might have been John) had the good sense to call his apartment complex again and found out from the super (who was now present) that Chris was in Walker Methodist.

Roman and I went to go see Chris one evening that week, and found him on the second floor in a wheelchair. Well, we found most of Chris; we didn't see his right leg below mid-thigh. Apparently, Chris had an infection there for years and it got worse. In one of the few times I'd ever seen Chris near mad, he blamed the doctor, thinking his leg could have been saved. (The man never got mad. I'm serious. This was the third of four times I'd seen or heard him a little flustered at anything. And his voice never went up and he never yelled and after about two sentences it was over.)

The place was pretty bleak, and what made it worse was that Chris was still himself with his wits about him, as opposed to most of the rest of the folks there, who were zombies. At 60, he was younger than most of them. He shouldn't have been there, he should have stopped drinking Mountain Dew once he had found out he was a diabetic, but there he was.

So we started gaming at Walker Methodist, mostly Dungeon Fantasy, but sometimes Roman ran D&D Midnight 3.5 since, now being in grad school, I sometimes had loads of coursework. It's weird playing in such a place, though it did have a good commissary for snacks.

A commissary that let somebody still drink a can of Mountain Dew a week, however.

Our last game there was on the 24th of September. Chris started going in and out of the hospital starting around late August. Roman and I went there once, and saw he looked awful. We could now see the sores on his left leg, which looked worse than his missing right leg. Chris had Betty Grable's legs, which meant he had the legs of a woman who had been dead for 44 years. It wasn't good. I think we last saw him in Walker when we came to visit on October 6th, when he had just come back from the hospital, to which we went first. He was actually pretty together, and Roman thought he could last six months or six years, depending on how much work Chris put into it.

Chris's social worker called me last week, and told me the hospital was trying to reach his brother. She didn't give me any specifics, but said what was obvious, which was that Chris was unlikely to make it. Roman, John, and I went to go see him on the 27th of October, and I knew that was likely to be the last time.

He seemed a little gone for once, tired, not paying attention to whatever Doris Day movie was on the television. (I had tried calling down there on the 24th, and the nurse told me he was too tired. That wasn't a good sign; his activities consisted of eating, sleeping, and watching "Gunsmoke" reruns. Hardly tiring.) He had pneumonia and was on a BIPAP machine, or on oxygen when he wasn't on the BIPAP. If you've ever had a conversation with someone on a BIPAP machine, you'd know it's a conversation with Charlie Brown's teacher, and I told him as much, which amused him. At least he still had his sense of humor. He actually got a little mad when he starting talking about the Medicaid spenddown for making too much money cutting down his living conditions, and he's right that it is silly since the guy was on Social Security. Fourth time getting mad.

There was a fatalism about this visit, however. Chris throughout all his last months kept talking about the future, how his wheelchair was going to fit into his apartment (it would have had a problem turning the corner going in), or to where he was going to move for assisted living when it became clear that he needed more help. He wasn't talking about that now. Also, Roman had to take a phone call wherein he had to tell his brother who called that he was visiting a dying friend. After a few uncomfortable looks away, Roman got off the phone, and explained that if he didn't put it that way, his brother would ramble on and not let him off the phone. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but we knew Roman wasn't exaggerating to his brother, either.

Chris knew, too, which was a first. I sometimes thought of Professor Binns from the Harry Potter books, who died and rose up as a ghost and went about his day. Chris always seemed to take each event as a one-time event, after which he'd get back to his day-to-day grind of reading comic books and painting minis. I always thought he felt that death wouldn't take him, too, and that he could do whatever he wanted to his body without it mattering.

At 11:45 this morning, his social worker called me, confirming that getting back to the everyday grind was not to happen, and that Chris was on his last hours. John had the day off and made it to the hospital, and he let me know that Chris was unconscious. Then at 2:30, he let me know that Chris had failed his last save.

The things I'll miss … his friendly demeanor most of all. His, "Hey, dude," greeting when he called you up. That he seldom took anything too seriously. Granted, he took this to the point of killing him, but he was good natured and pleasant and always willing to hang out and chat. We sometimes chatted away in the basement of the old Tower Games location when we didn't really have a gaming group besides ourselves. He gently let me know that the big D&D advert for the 4e red box was something I should be able to read across the table; I really did need glasses after 37 years.

All the minis and his need to want just the right mini. I'm sure I'll wind up with many of them, but it's not the same. I'm usually perfectly satisfied with Cardboard Heroes or the Pathfinder Bestiary Box; Chris often had the perfect one painted for the situation. He painted one for Ichanko, my monk. Even the plastic ones were great; my wife's friend Josh played an elven pyromancer in a D&D game I ran. Chris had the plastic mini from Wizards of the Coast. He'd gamed since the woodgrain box in 1974 and had some genuine artistic skill, and his minis were his output, as well as a few character portraits.

And oh, the good times. Basayant the Necromancer's rant against the boggarts. How Lars, his fighter/cleric, always pulled out his bow to make a pathetic shot at the start of combat, which led to a fight in which Ichanko, who had initiative, said that he's going to move to the front and in the middle of some nasty monsters, and if Lars took out the bow, he was going to go back and beat the shit out of Lars. How the dimetrodon on the Isle of Dread snuck up on Basayant, which nobody bought. ("He rolled really well!") Eventually, that game descended into Chris running Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and Josh and Lea, fed up with some questionable GMing (Basayant fought the Monster the GM Made Up Himself at one point, a nondescript mass of hit points and damage dice), made the two most irritating characters they could make to irritate Chris into dropping the game. The two-man Toon game in which we played munchkins from Oz who could turn into Munchkins from Too Many Hit Points Land; Toon was the one game he GMed well, much better than I did. He ran Call of Cthulhu too; my Latin professor fought both elder things and the football team. Professor Torres flunked them with vigor. They all looked funny; they should have stayed back at Innsmouth High. Another memory of the Isle of Dread, when Johnny (not John) played a dragon-loving cleric of Anubis who told a dragon he worshipped him, and said dragon told him, "I'm gonna go over there and eat your horse. And, if you're still here when I get back, I'm gonna eat you!" Then in commune with Anubis, Anubis asked him what he was doing with those dragons. Dan ran True20 for a bit in Hyperborea, and I played the Hyperborean L. Ron Hubbard, with Chris as my bodyguard. I ran a D&D 3e campaign that ended in a total party kill from a vrock, and I sang the Prudential jingle with an extra letter as I wiped out Chris's and Dan's PCs (and my own GMPC). His intelligence officer in the GURPS Interstellar Space Marines A-Team game who took video of their fights and sent them to "Friday Night Fights." Pity D's character saved the video of Chris's intelligence officer getting his ass handed to him by multiple clones of 20th century Earth actress Angelina Jolie. And when the intelligence officer, and Johnny and Tristan's characters broke into that Walker Corp. base and got a good reaction with a Cooking roll ("Mmmm! That is a tasty sandwich!") In that universe, that base is still resupplying the fictitious base Chris made up, and will never catch its error.

In the end, I think that's what it's all about. Friends and imagination and having good times. I hope to have more good times gaming, though now without Chris, they just won't be the same.

Requiesce in pace, amice.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Random rules and rulings

1. Seeing that Arduin had a table for it ("Arduin has something about everything. It's like Dianetics for men." — Psycho Dave), I was inspired to ask how to quickly mimic rope breaking for GURPS. So thus, after folks told me some things, I come up with this:

If you use a rope for more than its listed weight capacity, you must make an HT roll for the rope (assume HT 10 unless you paid more for higher HT) to see if it breaks. The rope is at -1 to HT for each 10% of listed weight capacity by which the load goes over the weight capacity, so for a normal rope, going at 170% of listed weight capacity will always break a normal rope. Remember that this weight capacity is halved for dynamic loads, which would be lifting or climbing without slowing down first (say, in combat, or lifting an animal without making an Animal Handling roll first). Also, a critical failure on a Climbing check while climbing when the rope is overburdened breaks the rope unless the climber's Climbing skill is 16 or better.

2. Weregeld. Seeing as how I like making lawbreaking penalties fines rather than prison time, I wound up reading up on the weregeld. In short, use the Cost of Living-based fines based on the Cost of Living of the victim rather than stock Status 0. So killing a Status -2 bum would be a mere $1,000 weregeld payment to his family or liege lord, but killing a Status 7 king is $600,000,000. I know this does not scale with the historical weregeld (which was about $4,000 for Status 0, with a halving for Status -1, and about $40,000 for killing the king), but it will deter murderhoboes from murderhoboing after a big haul.

EDIT (3nov2017): Since that scales up way too fast, the fines scale up with victim Status +1. Halve for Status -1; quarter for Status -2. Have fines be twofold the Class B/C felony fine for a Class A penalty, but Mīšarkênē is definitely a death penalty jurisdiction.

3. We didn't play on Sunday, as we had one player out-of-town and another in the hospital (again). So Roman, who plays Xórin the fox-man, his nephew Joseph, who may be joining us shortly, and I all played Blackmoor at the Source Comics and Games, which is kind of a Midwest Mecca for nerdery. Bob Meyer, who played Robert the Bald in the original Blackmoor game, ran the game. According to him, he inherited the game when Dave Arneson died. I never got to play with Dave even though I had met him a few times in the early Nineties, so this was the closest I could come. (My brother, however, not a huge D&D player, not only played with Dave, he got his D&D Rules Cyclopedia signed by Dave and Ross Maker and whoever else was around that night. Lucky little shit.) I'm the guy wearing the Cartman t-shirt, Roman is next to me in the black T-shirt and with one side of his face that looks like it was caught in a time glitch with the panoramic shot, and Joseph is in the Twins tuque. No, it wasn't cold in there, so I don't know what was with the tuque.

How was it? Fun. It was rules-light, with us playing ourselves as one of a man-at-arms (what I played; there were two others), the guard captain (who served as the caller), a couple of scholars (Roman, who could cast spells by smashing a vial of Blackmoor water), three scouts (Joseph), and one woodsman (er, woodswoman, who was one of Dave's "Scandihairians," or hairy Vikings drawing on Dave's Norwegian ancestry). We cleared out two levels of Castle Blackmoor, with Orcs and Trolls, and managed to burn out six rooms, including the floor of one room. We all had one special power of our choosing—mine was to be able to make friends with anyone, which I didn't tell the others, leading to a funny episode wherein the I led out the first Orc we met, with the intent of having him show me where the other Orcs were, and instead the other fighters killed him. (Plus there was the idea of having my own Orc army.) It was a good lesson in keeping things non-linear.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Game log 28 August 2017 and 24 September 2017: Wild turkeys couldn't drag me away

Dramatis personae

Xórin, fox-man
Kim, thief
Mayhem, barbarian
Ash, squire
Caleb, wizard
Villûdē, guide (NPC)
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)

Quid occurrit

On 30 Néberos, they set out. That day, they met a one-eyed woman walking towards them. They hailed her, and she tried to sell them perfume.

Caleb: “We’re not in the market for perfume.”
Perfume merchant: “Maybe you should be.”

That night, they made it to Kerváron and slept at Caleb’s parents’ home. The next day, they passed by the market village of Dūtordôn, but kept walking west. The next night was rainy, and Ash killed a pesky rattlesnake right before they made camp.

The next day, they made it to Qadūšāt’s tower. There, a pudgy young hobbit opened the door for them, and brought Qadūšāt to them. She was a woman about thirty who had curly hair and big brown eyes, wearing pink and grey robes, and spoke in a light accent. From her, they found that she did know Praidīvós, their one-handed erstwhile patron, but didn’t like him, and knew about the pond. She didn’t tell them anything else, and was icy towards them, so the gang left without looking through her books.

They made camp outside, then set forth the next day. The next day, they made it back to Dūtordôn, and stayed at the Spirits tavern. They made it to the edge of the swamp the next day, where they made a swamp the day after that.

In the swamp, they heard a big boom that morning. They stopped for the night, and that evening, Mayhem led the gang as it scattered a bug swarm.

The next day was rainy, and they made slow headway. The next day, they made it to the edge of the pond. The pond was about 100 yards athwart. White elm trees with golden leaves were on all along the shore, and in them were jet-black lorises. In the middle of the pond on a small island was a cobalt-blue crystal statue of a wizard whose finger pointed towards the sky.

But first, the stymphalian birds.

There were almost 30 birds, as big as turkeys and jet-black, like the lorises. They flew at the heroes, who quickly slew a few. Between the losses and Caleb’s Stroke of Lightning spell, the evil turkeys felt enough fear to flee.

After binding their wounds, some of the heroes swam out to the statue. Caleb saw that the statue’s skyward fingertip was a prism, and if sunlight would strike it at the right time, it would make a ray that would show them something.

Sure enough, at sunset, the setting sunlight hit the prism at the right angle, and it shone on a spot on the shore. They went to it, and shoved away some dirt and brush, and found stone doors. They lifted them, and saw stairs going down.

It was a good thing, too, as the flock of evil turkeys was coming back.

Res aliae

I botched thunder bugs, as they should have been nastier. As such,

Two character points for each session.

I’m being a lazy rotter on this log stuff. I put together two sessions into one log, as they were both short sessions. As will be the one tomorrow, sadly.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

GURPS Day: New Armor Loadouts for DF13

Kickstarter backers now have their PDFs of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. Well, those backers who bought the PDFs. On the up side, this game now uses armor based on the armor in GURPS Low-Tech. On the down side, this means the kits in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 13: Loadouts are now wrong. Metal armor weighs less, but almost all armor is more costly. I like this works in play as it's not far from how I run things; it makes starting at 250 points tougher for a few sessions until everyone upgrades his armor, but I'm into lower-powered games anyways. Anyways, I wrote anew the armor parts of the loadouts. You will need to have DF 13 to make this work, so isn't this a good time to spend some money?

And oh yeah. We played on Sunday. Log will follow at some time.

Loadout Location Armor DR $ Wgt.
Light Barbarian Head Heavy Leather 2 $38 3
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Heavy Leather 2 $75 6
Total Armor $271 21.6
Old Armor $270 26
Net $1 -4.4
Old Kit $270 28
New Kit $271 23.6
Heavy Barbarian Head Scale 4/3 $138 7
Body Scale 4/3 $578 29.4
Arms Scale 4/3 $275 14
Feet Heavy Leather 2 $52 4.2
Total Armor $1,043 54.6
Old Armor $1,040 80
Net $3 -25.4
Old Kit $1,040 84
New Kit $1,043 58.6
Wandering Minstrel Body Light Cloth 1 $53 1.5
Arms Light Cloth 1 $25 3
Legs Light Cloth 1 $25 3
Total Armor $103 7.5
Old Armor $110 9
Net -$7 -1.5
Old Kit $246 15.9
New Kit $239 14.4
Courtly Bard Body Heavy Cloth 2 $158 12.6
Arms Light Cloth 1 $25 3
Legs Light Cloth 1 $25 3
Feet Ornate (+2) Heavy Leather 2 $204 4.2
Total Armor $412 22.8
Old Armor $480 18
Net -$68 4.8
Old Kit $1,582 32.2
New Kit $1,514 37
Fighting Cleric Head Heavy Leather 2 $38 3
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Heavy Leather 2 $75 6
Hands Heavy Leather 2 $5 0.6
Legs Heavy Leather 2 $112 9
Feet Heavy Leather 2 $52 4.2
Total Armor $440 35.4
Old Armor $510 48
Net -$70 -12.6
Old Kit $850 77
New Kit $780 64.4
Healing Cleric Head Heavy Leather 2 $38 3
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Light Leather 1 $25 3
Hands Light Leather 1 $5 0.6
Legs Light Leather 1 $25 3
Feet Heavy Leather 2 $52 4.2
Total Armor $303 26.4
Old Armor $340 25
Net -$37 1.4
Old Kit $898 46
New Kit $861 47.4
Beastmaster Body Furs 1 $53 1.5
Total Armor $53 1.5
Old Armor $50 8
Net $3 -6.5
Old Kit $100 19
New Kit $103 12.5
Elementalist Body Light Leather 1 $53 1.5
Arms Light Leather 1 $25 3
Hands Light Leather 1 $5 0.6
Feet Light Leather 1 $17 2.1
Total Armor $100 7.2
Old Armor $115 7
Net -$15 0.2
Old Kit $627 23.5
New Kit $612 23.7
Green Druid Head Light Leather 1 $13 1.5
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Light Leather 1 $25 3
Total Armor $196 17.1
Old Armor $190 15
Net $6 2.1
Old Kit $400 32
New Kit $406 34.1
Armor of God Head Heavy Leather 2 $38 3
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Light Leather 1 $25 3
Hands Light Leather 1 $5 0.6
Legs Light Leather 1 $25 3
Feet Light Leather 1 $17 2.1
Total Armor $268 24.3
Old Armor $292 22
Net -$24 2.3
Old Kit $862 66
New Kit $838 68.3
Crusader Head Light Segmented Plate 3 $150 4
Body Light Segmented Plate 3 $630 16.8
Arms Light Segmented Plate 3 $300 8
Hands Light Segmented Plate 3 $60 1.6
Legs Light Segmented Plate 3 $450 12
Feet Light Segmented Plate 3 $210 5.6
Total Armor $1,800 48
Old Armor $1,830 73
Net -$30 -25
Old Kit $2,760 103.2
New Kit $2,730 78.2
Light Warrior Head Heavy Leather 2 $38 3
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Heavy Leather 2 $75 6
Hands Heavy Leather 2 $5 0.6
Legs Heavy Leather 2 $112 9
Feet Heavy Leather 2 $52 4.2
Total Armor $440 35.4
Old Armor $440 32
Net $0 3.4
Old Kit $440 32
New Kit $440 35.4
Medium Warrior Head Light Scale 3/2 $125 3
Body Light Scale 3/2 $336 16.8
Arms Light Scale 3/2 $160 8
Hands Heavy Leather 2 $5 0.6
Legs Heavy Leather 2 $112 9
Feet Heavy Leather 2 $52 4.2
Total Armor $790 41.6
Old Armor $810 69
Net -$20 -27.4
Old Kit $810 69
New Kit $790 41.6
Heavy Warrior Head Light Segmented Plate 3 $150 4
Body Light Segmented Plate 3 $630 16.8
Arms Light Segmented Plate 3 $300 8
Hands Light Segmented Plate 3 $60 1.6
Legs Light Segmented Plate 3 $450 12
Feet Light Segmented Plate 3 $210 5.6
Total Armor $1,800 48
Old Armor $1,830 73
Net -$30 -25
Old Kit $810 69
New Kit $780 44
Empty-Hand Warrior Hands Segmented Plate 4 $90 2.4
Total Armor $90 2.4
Old Armor $100 2
Net -$10 0.4
Old Kit $170 12
New Kit $160 12.4
Armored Martial Artist Head Heavy Leather 2 $38 3
Body Heavy Segmented Plate 5F $630 16.8
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Heavy Leather 2 $75 6
Hands Segmented Plate 4 $90 2.4
Legs Heavy Leather 2 $5 0.6
Feet Heavy Leather 2 $112 9
Total Armor $1,108 50.4
Old Armor $1,190 41
Net -$82 9.4
Old Kit $1,190 43
New Kit $1,108 52.4
Bounty Hunter Head Heavy Leather 2 $38 3
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Heavy Leather 2 $75 6
Hands Heavy Leather 2 $5 0.6
Legs Light Leather 1 $25 3
Feet Heavy Leather 2 $52 4.2
Total Armor $353 29.4
Old Armor $390 24
Net -$37 5.4
Old Kit $1,260 47
New Kit $1,223 52.4
Ranger Body Light Leather 1 $53 1.5
Total Armor $53 1.5
Old Armor $50 4
Net $3 -2.5
Old Kit $895 27
New Kit $898 24.5
Sharpshooter Head Heavy Leather 2 $38 3
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Heavy Leather 2 $75 6
Hands Heavy Leather 2 $5 0.6
Legs Heavy Leather 2 $112 9
Feet Heavy Leather 2 $52 4.2
Total Armor $440 35.4
Old Armor $440 30
Net $0 5.4
Old Kit $1,680 47
New Kit $1,680 52.4
Bladed Ruffian Body Light Leather 1 $53 6.3
Arms Light Leather 1 $25 3
Hands Light Leather 1 $5 0.6
Legs Light Leather 1 $37 4.5
Feet Light Leather 1 $17 2.1
Total Armor $137 16.5
Old Armor $170 10
Net -$33 6.5
Old Kit $188 12.3
New Kit $155 18.8
Gentleman Adventurer Head Light Scale 3/2 $125 3
Body Light Scale 3/2 $336 16.8
Arms Heavy Leather 2 $75 6
Hands Heavy Leather 2 $5 0.6
Legs Heavy Leather 2 $112 9
Feet Ornate (+2) Heavy Leather 2 $208 4.2
Total Armor $861 39.6
Old Armor $880 33
Net -$19 6.6
Old Kit $1,294 35.3
New Kit $1,275 41.9
Basic Thief Head Light Leather 1 $13 1.5
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Light Leather 1 $25 3
Hands Light Leather 1 $5 0.6
Legs Light Leather 1 $37 4.5
Feet Light Leather 1 $17 2.1
Total Armor $255 24.3
Old Armor $250 18
Net $5 6.3
Old Kit $885 27.6
New Kit $890 33.9
Burglar Head Light Scale 3/2 $80 4
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Heavy Leather 2 $75 6
Hands Heavy Leather 2 $5 0.6
Legs Heavy Leather 2 $112 9
Feet Heavy Leather 2 $52 4.2
Total Armor $482 36.4
Old Armor $600 16
Net -$118 20.4
Old Kit $1,665 29.5
New Kit $1,547 49.9
Assassin Head Light Leather 1 $13 1.5
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Light Leather 1 $25 3
Hands Light Leather 1 $5 0.6
Legs Light Leather 1 $37 4.5
Feet Light Leather 1 $17 2.1
Total Armor $255 24.3
Old Armor $250 18
Net $5 6.3
Old Kit $1,246 41.12
New Kit $1,251 47.42
Fighting Wizard Head Heavy Leather 2 $38 3
Body Heavy Leather 2 $158 12.6
Arms Light Leather 1 $25 3
Hands Light Leather 1 $5 0.6
Legs Light Leather 1 $37 4.5
Feet Light Leather 1 $17 2.1
Total Armor $280 25.8
Old Armor $302 18
Net -$22 7.8
Old Kit $862 24
New Kit $840 31.8
Scholarly Wizard Head Light Leather 1 $13 1.5
Feet Light Leather 1 $17 2.1
Total Armor $30 3.6
Old Armor $30 6
Net $0 -2.4
Old Kit $880 15
New Kit $880 12.6