Sunday, April 28, 2013

Afternoon Commute Revelation

Driving home from work at midday on the 18th of April, when my area had just had 5.3 inches of rain in the past 8 hours, I ended up behind a Kia Soul...

A green Kia Soul...

And my first thought was, "Did Enik help design that thing?"

Maybe it was the overcast sky, or maybe it was the rain on the windshield, but that car looked suspiciously familiar to my work-addled brain:

And why was it staring at me?

Sadly, this picture doesn't do it justice...

The Metamorphica, and Rule 0

Back in early March, I was looking for some random mutation tables online, and came across a free .pdf of The Metamorphica by Johnstone Metzger on  I downloaded it immediately, but didn't get around to doing anything with it until recently.  The manual is a masterpiece!  It is system agnostic, so I can use it with my OD&D campaign as well as my Traveller campaign, and any other games I choose to run.  The .pdf is 154 pages long, most of which are full of charts for rolling up mutations, and descriptions of said mutations.  Also included are several appendices.  I especially like Appendix 3, Characters by Campaign, and Appendix 4, Characters by Type.  The former lists different campaign styles, and provides still more tables and information about how to generate specific mutant types for specific campaign styles; the latter assists with the creation of specific character types, such as mutant hordes and mutant plants.  The last three pages are a bibliography; a veritable Appendix N of resources that influenced the creation of the book.

The night I downloaded this, we were playing in my son's AD&D 2e world... and I was one of those distracted players we DMs gripe about.  I kept oohing and ahhing as I perused the file and several players asked about it, and wanted copies.  Turns out, at least two of them have written up campaigns using this book as a character creation manual.  At first I was perplexed; there is no system in this book... it's not a ruleset!  Speaking further to them, I found out that the two of them, and my son, worked out initial game rules of their own, and they'll update them as needed.  All they have now are a simple character generation method and stats, and basic combat.  No longer perplexed... proud instead!  They started with D&D 4e; then after playing in my Traveller campaign and my OD&D (3 LBBs) campaign, decided 4e was way too crunchy and dropped back to AD&D 2e.  Now they've gone further, implementing Rule 0 in the strongest way possible!  Huzzah!

By the way, I'll be using The Metamorphica as well.  The Melashravishim of my Star Clans Traveller Campaign will be partially generated using some of the tables in this book.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Traveller game last night...

We played Traveller last night... first game since the first of March!  Rather than our usual 9+ players, we only had 7, and I think that made a huge difference!  While I could probably run 15 in my OD&D game, Traveller is a MUCH bigger sandbox.  With travel times between even the closest two stars of a week, it becomes far too difficult to run if the group splinters:  OK, you stay on planet X to look for a patron, while you book a high passage to planet Y to do the same.  That week in hyperspace is a single die roll (to check for drive problems), while that week on planet X could be daily activities, appropriate encounters, success of search, etc.  I don't like to have players sit at the table when they're not involved, for several reasons:  in-game, they learn things their characters shouldn't or wouldn't know, and out-of-game, they tend to get bored and become distracting to either me or the active players.  Even with just 7, this happened, but it was easier to deal with than when the group is bigger.

In my Star Clans campaign, I have them working directly for the O'er King (leader of the interstellar govt) but they're given wide latitude in terms of timing and specific actions, so I don't feel like I'm railroading them.  I use random events (the tables from the old AD&D Oriental Adventures are great!) to plan my "future history," and player actions directly affect the flow, so I'm as often surprised by the direction things go as they are.  Keeps it fresh for me as well.  

Their current "mission" is to expand the Ardeni Kingdoms... and they've done very well.  Each time they visit a system, I let them make their arguments with the local leaders.  If their argument rings true to the locals (given what I know of the govt type and my notes on the leaders), I give them a bonus on the reaction roll... if not, they either get a straight roll or even a negative modifier if they misjudge the locals.  

Of course, they could tell they O'er King they're done with that, and move on to something else, and I actually expected them to... Overall, the game did NOT go where I expected last night, but that's fantastic for me!  They opted to continue their diplomatic & trade mission, and were very successful.  And they all seemed to have a good time.  

Now, if only the larger group would believe me when I tell them they can opt out of one game (Traveller) and still be included in the others (OD&D, AD&D 2e, etc.)... Yeah, I know, it's the equivalent of a "First World Problem!"  We have TOO MANY players to run a single group!  (More on that later...)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Inspiration, move me brightly...

Got busy a few months ago and paused in my blogging... only to fall off the wagon completely.  I'm running Star Clans tomorrow night, and prepping for it is just what I've needed... Hearing Terrapin Station the other day helped too!

"Terrapin Station"
Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing


Let my inspiration flow
in token lines suggesting rhythm
that will not forsake me
till my tale is told and done

While the firelight's aglow
strange shadows in the flames will grow
till things we've never seen
will seem familiar

Shadows of a sailor forming
winds both foul and fair all swarm
down in Carlisle he loved a lady
many years ago

Here beside him stands a man
a soldier by the looks of him
who came through many fights
but lost at love

While the storyteller speaks
a door within the fire creaks
suddenly flies open
and a girl is standing there

Eyes alight with glowing hair
all that fancy paints as fair
she takes her fan and throws it
in the lion's den

"Which of you to gain me, tell
will risk uncertain pains of Hell?
I will not forgive you
if you will not take the chance"

The sailor gave at least a try
the soldier being much too wise
strategy was his strength
and not disaster

The sailor coming out again
the lady fairly lept at him
that's how it stands today
you decide if he was wise

The storyteller makes no choice
soon you will not hear his voice
his job is to shed light
and not to master

Since the end is never told
we pay the teller off in gold
in hopes he will come back
but he cannot be bought or sold


Inspiration, move me brightly
light the song with sense and color,
hold away despair
More than this I will not ask
faced with mysteries dark and vast
statements just seem vain at last
some rise, some fall, some climb
to get to Terrapin

Counting stars by candlelight
all are dim but one is bright:
the spiral light of Venus
rising first and shining best,
From the northwest corner
of a brand-new crescent moon
crickets and cicadas sing
a rare and different tune

Terrapin Station
in the shadow of the moon
Terrapin Station
and I know we'll be there soon

Terrapin - I can't figure out
Terrapin - if it's an end or the beginning
Terrapin - but the train's got its brakes on
and the whistle is screaming: TERRAPIN


While you were gone
these spaces filled with darkness
The obvious was hidden
With nothing to believe in
the compass always points to Terrapin
The sullen wings of fortune beat like rain
You're back in Terrapin for good or ill again
For good or ill again