Sunday, March 29, 2009

Super Amazing Anniversary Spectacular Go

CR25 Hypermitotic Dungeon Master is now a year old.

There's not much I can say.

Actually, yes there is. Normally I try not to get a big head and act pretty reserved or make fun of myself but today, I am awesome. And so are my stick figure comics and their giant tl;dr blocks of text! All I need to do now is enter a Wizards campaign setting contest and come second place!

I can't even remember when this started, exactly - the above is the first image in that style I saved and posted, and honestly I forget when I posted it. Or if I did at all. I don't remember scanning this shit. My computer says sharkcannon.png was created on the 13th of January, 2008, but I think it is lying. (The first TJH was drawn on the 23rd of May, 2007.)

This blog has come along way, at least when compared to the original comics scratched out and posted as the This Just Happened series on /tg/. Well, not that long, but whatever.

I would like to thank the following people and go back to the game I just put on hold while I typed this:
  • /tg/, for inspiring me to do this thing and for any time it is not acting like /b/ with Warhammer;
  • LordLicorice, for making the awesome sup/tg/ and hosting the old comics (including the Fictional Boogaloo ones which never actually happened), and being a swell guy in general;
  • Everyone in #suptg who is also a swell guy;
  • Urch for being a cool player and also helping inspire Sir Brian Consumptington which I promise I will put into an actual game one of these days
  • All of my other players, who are nice guys, really.
  • Except you. Fuck you.
  • All the readers who have read this thing, especially the ones that comment and make me feel special.
Here's to the year ahead. Hopefully I haven't jumped the shark yet!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Natural 21


Onward to part 2!

I sometimes wish I had a perfect group. What a perfect group is for you might be a little different to my perfect group, but the basics should be there - good guys, everyone works well together, et cetera.

Of course, this is pretty hard to get and you'll probably end up with a fuckmuffin or two. It's to be expected - pretty much everyone is going to be a cockwaffle of some description at least once in their gaming career, possibly near the start of it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't play with someone just because they can be a buttcake, though - nearly all the fuckcrumpets I know have redeeming qualities that make it worth playing with them, and with luck they might even grow out of the habits that made them a bitchpudding in the first place.

Case in point, pretty much half of that campaign I mentioned in the last post. I was a years-long game, and people who were huge shitbreakfasts around the start improved immeasurably toward the end. I would play with most of these people again. With that in mind (and the fact that this was a while ago so I might be misremembering details), here we go:

The campaign started with four players, only one of whom made it to the end. (I actually had to stop playing after a few sessions, and picked it up months later with mostly-new players.) Those players were (actual names avoided):
  • Gorgon (unrelated name) who was decent at roleplaying (and might have played D&D before, I forget). This was my first game, so I allowed her to play a chaotic evil character. She stabbed and nearly killed another player over a nonmagical scimitar, which is pretty much all anyone remembers, but the entire game was terrible really so who gives a shit?
  • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Blog-Post, who played a cleric without problems and was just plain unable to make it again. Pretty cool guy.
  • Sorceress, who will later roll a non-sorceress but I don't care. Played a sorcerer with the intention of going into Dragon Disciple, and thought "chaotic" meant "crazy", but didn't do much except stop the party one time to sniff things. Fairly harmless!
  • Forgetmenot, who played a multiclass wizard/fighter (in a level 1 game! We were new). Aside from being the unfortunate stab victim above, not much happened.
Later, when I evolved from New DM to Newbie DM, I picked up the game again, starting the campaign a few in-game weeks after the last session.

Sorceress had taken the character to a campaign with another guy, who made it to epic level. She had also picked up a host of ego problems there somehow; she rerolled a wu jen, but wanted to cameo her old PC as an NPC who helped hire the new players. And she wanted to use the epic-level demigoddess from the other DM's game plus her fey-with-class-levels familiar. Eventually she "settled" for her original PC, plus a couple levels, and the familiar which proceeded to interrupt the scene with its wacky antics! until I banned it from future appearances.

Oh yeah, and she cheated on her dice rolls and ignored restrictions I put on treasure. I was a newbie. :/

Forgetmenot rolled a half-orc monk, or something. Unfortunately, Forgetmenot has a habit of missing sessions and then quitting games (or at least rerolling characters) because he no longer "feels" the character. This happened fairly early on and he couldn't be bothered coming back. Bah.

New players were:
  • Afk, who rolleda half-fey cleric. He lasted to the end, and was actually a pretty good guy - interesting backstory, roleplayed fairly well (including his character flaws), etc. I have few problems with him, except that his character wasn't awesomely memorable until a scene where his character proposed to another, which was pretty swell.
  • Defias, which was the name of the guy's dwarf character. A WoW player (can you tell?) who was actually pretty cool except for the WoW references (and reads this blog!). He had to stop playing for some reason so his PC decided to stick around the town they were in to pursue a relationship with a minor NPC. That's... about it.
  • Roffle, who played a half-drow soulknife with a tragic backstory who also stayed to the end, despite the fact that his character spent most of the game moping and distancing himself from the party. Actually a pretty decent roleplayer. I will explain why I want to punch him later.
  • Fleet, a pretty cool guy who played a half-orc (or was it an orc?) with a really interesting backstory who sadly had schedule conflicts after the first couple sessions and never played again - don't even know if he played D&D at all after that. FFFF.
Later (I think around when Defias and Forgetmenot quit), we picked up:
  • Catphone, Roffle's sister (I love making up names) who played a were-tiger who was also a lone wolf with no real reason to interact with the PCs or anyone else. (Dear D&Ders: Please stop doing this, or at least stop crying to me about it when you have no in-character reason to do anything.) Catphone missed a few sessions because she was too sad to play, or her cat was sick, or she was sad that her cat was sick.
  • Timberlake, who played a half-dragon fighter and showed up to a bunch of sessions high, or just fell asleep. Yeah.
At some point I decided to run a second side-game with evil PCs opposing the party. It did not last long at all. It consisted of:
  • Georgio, who just took over the halfling villain I had from before. Stopped eventually, though he made some suggestions on what to do with it.
  • Power Samurai, a powergamer who wanted to use the game to playtest a homebrew iajutsu-related PrC he made (again, I was new); he killed the first boss before anyone else had time to act, then quit the game because it was "boring".
  • Revy, who played a thri-kreen and was actually pretty cool. I was sad when we couldn't continue the evil-PC game. I should invite him to another game sometime...
  • Hack, who usually plays melee fighters, and this time decided to... play a drow melee fighter. When the evil-PC game had to be cancelled, his character "defected" and joined the heroes.
Around this point, things got weird.

Sorceress got really touchy about anything bad happening to her PCs. It didn't help that in another game, she threw a literal tantrum at this happening (despite playing a lich. Think about it) and I didn't feel like dealing with that crap. At one point, she threatened to murder another Timberlake's PC for giving her familiar a slap on the wrist for snatching things out of his hands so she could see. She tried to make a semantics argument about how she didn't really mean she would kill him, though later she made a secret "deal" with Hack to kill Timberlake in his sleep. Another time she yelled at me for including "a challenge way over our level" (something about their level I took from the Book of Challenges and toned down) because her character took damage.

Meanwhile, Hack was slowly deciding he was the only genius in this whole fucking business. After deciding Afk and Timberlake both sucked and so did their characters (for reasons varying from "valid" to "fucking trivial"), he at first planned to off them, then quit the game and demanded a solo campaign (which he now demands whenever he quits a game, or whenever I start a new campaign he can't join because he refuses to play with half the gaming group) with dice-rolling combat action and adventures and dungeons planned with as much care and effort as the actual campaign. This did not go as well as he hoped.

At one point, the party (which was about 6-8th level) got a hold of a unique trident from some book (MotP?) It was treasure "for the party", but what ended up happening was that the party fighter sold it, kept the money for himself and commissioned a +1 keen holy frost greatsword. If I had the experience I did now I would have smacked him in the face.

Sorceress heard this and tried to put a small "down payment" on an epic-level spear for her cohort. I said no.

Oh, yeah! There were cohorts. Sorceress' was actually a PC of hers from another game who was mostly remembered for being thick, nearly killing the entire party by doing something she was told not to several times in a row, and blaming it on everyone else. It was also a fighter she was trying to set up to be like an FF dragon. She played it and her familiar like two extra PCs. Timberlake had a ranger, and Afk had a sorceress (mostly to carry his stuff). If you've been counting, you'll notice that this made way too many characters in the one party. There might have been another cohort I forget, I don't remember.

Sorceress and Hack (who hadn't quit yet) brought this up with me. In a dazzling display of generosity, they suggested kicking Catphone and Roffle out of the game. I told them to go eat a bag of dongs and kicked out all cohorts, except for Afk's after he made a good case for keeping it (it didn't do much and carried his stuff).

Timberlake accepted provided he could swap Leadership for another feat, which seemed fair. Sorceress, though, was a little miffed (she has a problem with people touching her PCs in and out of game, she treated her familar and cohort like extra PCs, 1+1=...). Eventually she told me she was "finally okay" with it, and then began to threaten me because she was worried I would remove the cohort from the game by killing it. After being told that she would "react" if I fudged the die rolls against her, I told her I was no longer comfortable with her cohort participating in battle and it was to sit on the sidelines until removed so I didn't have to worry about sudden explosions of anger because someone did damage to it.

She stormed out of the game. Happily, with her and Hack gone, that solved the too-many-players issue.

That left Afk, Timberlake, Roffle and Catphone. At some point Catphone changed characters, and rolled a half-fey princess sorcerer/blood magus who was also very shy and had little reason to interact with people. (!!!) Roffle was still mopey and didn't do much IC - but I forgot his OOC behaviour!

See, OOC, Roffle is (well, was, he's not that bad now) a jokester, cracking any joke or making any pun that came to mind until people told him to shut it up (which he'd ignore anyway). He liked to say he was "MST"ing games. He'd also play World of Warcraft during sessions and we'd have to make Catphone give us his character name (provided she wasn't too sad to play) so we could chase him down and tell him that it was his turn in battle twenty toastfucking minutes ago.

We recruited one more guy - Lewl, a WoW friend of mine who decided to play a(nother) sorceress who was also the sister of a popular NPC. And called Lewl. Heh. Good guy, really.

The final dungeon came up - that one I mentioned last time, which turned out to be too big and annoying. They decided to bring along some NPCs, and Afk and Sorceress bugged me to let her back in. She didn't want to play her wu jen again, no - she wanted to play the familiar from the first session, which Afk's half-fey had taken a liking to. After being pestered about it, I said yes, provided things didn't get silly. Later, I had to correct her when her fey rogue/sorcerer casually talked to the other PCs while trying to stealthily disarm a trap behind an orc guard several corridors away and around a corner.

More dungeon action. Lewl had to quit due to schedule problems. Shitwafers. By this point I had also rejected several requests by Hack for his PC (or his PC's higher-level father) to swoop in and save the day.

A boss battle came up - long story short, Georgio had been brought back again, this time as an undead made out of blood. Since there wasn't enough of his own blood left, the BBEG used a fellow henchman who was no longer useful as bait for the PCs and set up a dungeon which drained any blood spilled inside into a hidden chamber beneath... Oh, and then they used some of it to make a generic "the party must fight evil versions of itself" encounter, except it was "evil undead halfling versions of itself made of blood".

Even though he was a fighter, Timberlake's counterpart was a warblade. He complained about this, because it was important for some reason, and when the next session was due to begin after the battle had started he suddenly announced he "didn't feel like playing", basically ruining any chance we had of running a proper game that day, then stayed around anyway to talk to the others and make remarks that, if read by a grumpy asshole (or perhaps someone who no longer believes "oh but what I really meant was..." defenses), could be construed as snide remarks about said warblade.

So, naturally, I yelled at him and called him a fuck-bánh xèo. And he quit. Fuckbacon.

We trudged on anyway, with Afk, Sorceress, Catphone and Roffle left. Catphone didn't do much except be sad, act bored and shoot of acid arrows. Later, I looked at her blood magus after she complained about being underpowered.

Turns out she thought "+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class" in the blood magus description meant "you get another bonus spell slot" and hadn't actually gotten any new spell levels since taking the PrC. After pointing this out, she declared that she was too lazy to fix it and quit the game. Shitternational House of Pancakes!

That left Afk, Sorceress and Roffle, who had by this point failed to respond for twenty minutes because he was "Youtubing". The final boss loomed.

I decided to just get it over with (in fact, I cut most of the final floor) and decided to make the boss battle worth it. With that in mind, I planned out a pretty good final battle arena - a multi-tiered 'roof' at the mountain's peak. In this setting, the reason magic-users don't end up dominating wars is because everyone trains casters for counterspelling the enemy's magic, and the excess magical energy from countless dispelled spells (and a little extra magical energy from spells that are cast) eventually builds up in the air and forms a magical storm above called a counterstorm, which eventually turns into a magical hurricane raining random spells and death on all. The BBEG's plan hinged on forcing one of these to appear by making the good guys bring more mages onto the battlefield, then using a magical doom artifact to absorb the storm's energy and focus it into a massive unstable death ray to nuke their capital. The artifact sat in a room at the very tip of the peak, already sucking in a vortex of energy from the storm above. While they fought, zombies and other undead would pour up from the slopes and the rooms below, which the NPCs they brought focused on holding off; nevertheless, the wave of undead would force them up the tiers with each "stage" of the battle until eventually they were fighting the lich mano-a-mano in the artifact's room.

Man, that would have been awesome.

That did happen. The problem was, since it was the final battle, I wanted to set a mood it deserved. So, I ended up wasting half an hour (with the player's permission) thinking up an appropriately epic description of the arena and the lich himself, poised to destroy a kingdom. (It was not long; most of that half-hour was spent silently thinking.) And, since this relied on a certain atmosphere, I accosted Roffle privately.

I knew he had a habit of inserting jokes all the fucking time, regardless of whether it would ruin the atmosphere or just distract everyone from something they were trying to do. I told him explicitly that if the thought of cracking a mood-breaking joke so much as crossed his mind, I would murder his children.

That vital task done, I went ahead and described everything. I described the room. I described the thunderstorm above. I described the lich. He was dark, he was ominous, he was frightening.

"...And he's FABULOUS!!"
The atmosphere crumbled.

After being specifically told not to, Roffle had opened his mouth and made a fucking joke as soon as I had finished.

His excuse?

"But I'm the MST3K of D&D. :<"

I did my best to make the final battle great after that. I really did. And, I feel, I made an awesome finale that everyone enjoyed. But whenever I look back on it, I'll always remember that. And then I'll remember the bad times.


Oh, well. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I have to admit, overall it was a good game. I was even asked to run a sequel. A few bad moments will never get in the way of a really good game, not in the end. We did it, and it was liked, and everyone who stayed till the end had fun.

And isn't that what matters?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Natural 20, lol!


20th post! Told you.

I know we were in the middle of a series here, but not posting this old comic as post #20 would be like tvtropes without people being jackasses over trivial matters like the use of the word "I" or this blog without a hypocritical whiny snide remark at someone out of nowhere.

This is one of the older ones I did, from a campaign a looong time ago. Technically the first game I DMed and the only campaign I ever ran to completion (my changing university timetable tends to screw games over eventually), and a bit of a mess sometimes - more on that in a sec.

The party was climbing a wizard tower to confront the
bad guy inside (no prizes for guessing the class). I try to make my boss encounters varied, and talkative if it's not awkward - there's sometimes one guy who would rather insist the bad guy opening his mouth means he can get a surprise round and a full attack, but most of my players were cool with it - but this time I decided to do something simple. Wizard sat on the far side of the room at his test, bodyguard beside him, and he'd get up to shout and fight when the PCs barged in.

I never pre-write speeches for this shit (in case the players really do want to just fight), so when the soulknife guy wanted to use his character's higher-than-normal speed to cross the room and get a hit in, I allowed it. Besides, he was actually a fair challenge for melee attackers, because --

Unfortunately for the wizard, one of the purposes of the natural 20 in D&D is to flip the other guy's AC the bird and tell him to spin on your crit. One 20+confirm later, boom, knockout!

Oddly enough, back then I used the deathblow house rule (natural 20 to-hit + natural 20 crit-confirm + second confirm = instant death), but eventually I decided I didn't like it and dropped it. The main reason? That same guy's PC got killed by random mooks. Twice. Tee hee.



I've been tempted to write about that campaign in this blog a few times, but there's one thing that usually stops me - the players. See, even though I'll gladly accentuate the negative about a lot of things, my players included (it's cathartic!), I sometimes worry that they'll stumble across it on the internet. It's not too paranoid - I basically stopped posting on the WotC forums after one of my players "just happened across" a thread I made asking strangers for advice on player problems I was having and decided to post in the thread and paste everyone else a link, and I don't write about my players on the internet because I want to hear fourty fucking minutes of five minute's worth of justifications for whatever bullshit they pulled.

But whatever, let's get it off my chest and talk about it.


It was my first campaign, so not particularly inspired. The plot can be summed up like this: There was a standard medieval-ish fantasy society, and it was being threatened by a lich called Dominique despite being male who was also one of the previous king's many wacky alternate personalities. He had already lost a war to take the crown ten years ago and was brooding in the mountains while sending his lackey Georgio (a halfling who was originally a throwaway mook during the first session which I brought back as an undead antagonist) to steal all the items, NPCs and knowledge he could get his hands on to give them an edge in the war he was planning to relaunch with the aid of the evil races of the land. Nothing unusual for the most part.

It lasted a few years, ending with the war itself - Dominique turned the mountain he brooded in into a floating fortress and brought it with him on the frontlines, and the PCs entered it and killed him. Still nothing too original.

In hindsight, that campaign makes me conflicted. On the one hand, I enjoyed it, I really did. But a lot of the game happened when I was a... newer DM, and made a lot of mistakes. One of the biggest ones was at the end, which doesn't help. And, of course, I DMed for a few shitty players. All in all, it was a good campaign, just one with a lot of fumbling.

I learned a lot of lessons though:
  • The "D" in "DM" does not stand for "Doormat"
Around the start, several of the players did some pretty stupid things, from rolling bad characters to cheating at character creation. I allowed it, though, because I didn't want much trouble. Later, I allowed players to take large treasures for themselves instead of splitting it amongst the party and using it to buy their ~6th-level fighter a +1 keen holy frost greatsword, act like prima donnas, etc. because it seemed easier than dealing with players being whiny.

Don't. If you just let bad things happen like that
, your game isn't going to be good.
  • It doesn't stand for "Dickhead" either
Later - possibly as a reaction - I swung too far the other way: yelling at players for minor mistakes, verbally molesting them for being assholes, restricting treasure and experience, etc.

Fucking no. That just upsets people who didn't do anything in the first place. Since then I have, I hope, found a happy medium between "too hard" and "not hard enough".

  • Don't drag dungeons on
To finish the campaign, I decided, I would make an epic dungeon. It was a floating mountain fortress, after all. In the end there was a prison complex, an orc city, a magic research facility... all kinds of stuff. The problem was, I misjudged my limitations terribly - at the time, with the number of hours we could put into each session and so on - the last dungeon took months. Even I was tired of it by the end. That, I feel, is why I do not often look back on that campaign with fond memories.

So if you take anything from this screed, make it this: don't make adventures too long;didn't play.
  • Be prompt with EXP and such
I like to award exp after each adventure, not at the end of the session. It just makes more sense. Still, I tend to be lazy and not bother figuring it out until somewhere during the next adventure, or some bullshit. At the end of that campaign, I had to give it out when the players slept as a matter of necessity, except I kept forgetting and eventually had to suddenly grant them all two levels in one session to make up for months of missed exp.

So from now on, if I have a plan for when and where I give out EXP, I'm going to stick to it.
  • Don't fucking railroad
God, I feel dirty just admitting it.

So, one time, I had that Georgio guy show up to taunt and harass the PCs for a moment before escaping. Two problems: First, his method of escaping was very badly-defined, relying as it did on knowledge of the surrounding terrain and buildings that was next to impossible to communicate to the players properly without taking way more time than a reasonable explanation should have. Second: It came off as railroading. Hard railroading!

So, the players called me out. It took a while to convince me to undo it, too; I let them catch up and kill him, then revived him as an undead again when I needed him. I still feel terrible about that, and it's one of the reasons much of that campaign is an old shame for me.


I am told there were some positive points to my DMing style and I was very skilled at things like coming up with NPCs on the fly, and the players enjoyed the game immensely when fumbling bullshit wasn't going on in the DM/player departments. Most of them have also insisted that for the most part, I didn't railroad and ran a pretty open world, which is cool. Still, ugh. I guess everyone has dirty laundry, right?

Speaking of... I did say mistakes were made by everyone. Part 2 will be more fun to write...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My "Settings": McSphere


This will come up eventually if you don't just run a generic setting and allow anything. Someone will show up with an idea that just doesn't work. Usually it's because the character works perfectly in a completely different setting, sometimes it's because they just hate some major part of the setting and think demanding you scrap it is better than just not playing. I mean, yes, you can change the character to fit the setting with work, but I'd still rather be presented with a character that didn't need this basic retooling.

Sometimes it is even more fucked up! I've had people submit characters which only work if the history of the setting is rewritten. One time the backstory actually did rewrite the history (and some of the major race fluff) to establish the player's homebrew race as once-dominant Mary Sues who were hunted down because their tears were highly-prized magical liquid or something.

Once you are done gagging, we may continue.

I was actually going to start posting about the settings I've actually run, but I forgot one of the settings I haven't - McSphere. (I was going to do a test run with one player, but he objected when I rejected his character - more later maybe.) I made a few posts about it on /tg/ a while ago (that varied in quality).

Basics

The McSphere is a megastructure (named after a dyson sphere) of unknown size and shape; I've been assuming it is the size of a galaxy, but it can be the size of a supercluster or just arbitrarily large and nobody would notice.

Inside, humanity lives on. Sort of. You ever heard the phrase "fast food empire"? Here, it is more literal. Humanity is divided into Corporations instead of nations and such, and these Corporations are mostly ruled by massive artificial intelligences. Corporations and AIs are both eerily similar to today's fast food companies and mascots.

As a result of living in a high-technology setting where robots and AIs do all the work, average human intelligence has dropped hard. Your average humanoid (referred to these days as a "Customer") spends his days watching advertising, working jobs they barely understand, and saving up for Meals (amazing dishes of heavenly burgers and fries so delicious people queue for years and will go to amazing lengths to get them). They also spell things wrong.

The players are mercenaries, travelling from place to place in the brobdingnagian sprawl of corridors and rooms that is the McSphere blowing things up with high-tech weaponry. Points are awarded for doing it in xtreme ways or using brand products. Available "classes" include Soldiers (the standard fighting type) Teknomancerz (people with cybernetic implants and psionic machine empathy), Alkemists (sort of scientist-brewer-genetic engineer-bomb expert-medic-
chefs), Tekgineers (tinkers who can build mechanical stuff, hindered only slightly by their intellect) and Psyons (psions).

A bit like Idiocracy IN SPACE!
except it's all indoors and maybe they're not all that stupid and I guess it could also be like Paranoia WITHOUT THE PARANOIA! also soft science fiction!

Yeah.

Corporations
  • Maxx, a dystopia ruled with an iron fist by the oppressive Grimace, who happens to be an insane paranoiac. Partly based on Paranoia. The native Customers of Maxx are the Maccas, who are the average dudes of the setting, and the McNuggets, a genetically-engineered race of cute orange blob things created as repairmen to maintain the McSphere. Some Customers hope for the return of St. Ronald, the AI who ruled and mysteriously vanished before Grimace appeared.
  • The Kremelin, a Corporation of vaguely-Communist transhumans with a mysterious unknown ruler. The native Customers are the Krispies, short three-fingered humanoids with a thing for cybernetic implants and thin robotic exoskeletons called "icing". Krispies believe the universe passes through various technological eras before reaching the Omega Point, the time where the worthy are enlightened ascend to a higher plane of existence and the unworthy reincarnate at the beginning of a new universe and start over. Individual Krispies have different thoughts on what this means, from wanting to destroy the McSphere to hasten the Omega Point's arrival to trying to discover all its secrets.
  • Starbo, a coffee-obsessed Corporation which lives near giant balls of flaming gas found deep within the McSphere. Most of Starbo consists of school campuses and coffee shops, and society is a meritocracy based on how many degrees you have. The native Customers are the Pequoid, coffee (and sometimes other drugs)-addicted Customers who look like hippies with pointy elven ears and spend most of their time sitting around coffee shops in silly hats debating the nature of being poorly.
  • The Kingdom, a Corporation ruled by the Super-Sized Senatorum Imperialis on behalf of the mysterious and half-mythical AI "King", who is said to reside in a legendary White Castle. Most Customers here are Brugs, a strong race which goes around in powered chainmail and laser swords fighting the forces of what they think is Evil. Despite their appearance of well-intentioned honest Customers (which they mostly are), Brugs can be pretty skilled in the art of sneaking and general roguishness.
  • Huttannia, a pizza-loving Corporation ruled by the Pizza Head which seems more like an enlightened steampunk society than anything else. Unfortunately, it has recently been invaded by outside forces and is finding its way of life under threat. Huttannia is inhabited by the Huttons, dapper men with British accents who like pizza and cups of cola (the gentleman's drink). Recently they have developed large sets of steam-powered armour called Klokwerks to defend their homeland. In other news, I'm a weeaboo.
  • Dominance, another dystopia ruled by a mysterious and evil AI which seeks to usurp all others. Its Customers are enslaved members of other Corporations except for the Noids, sinister red-clothed servants with cybernetic implants. They are as cruel as they are mysterious, mysterious as they are evil, and also they are pretty evil.
  • XKZ, a more laid-back Corporation ruled by the pleasant General, with the closest the inside of a metal megastructure can get to a country atmosphere. Its main Customers are the Chimerickens (a race of dark-skinned Customers who enjoy farming, square dancing and the simple life (ie: lasers and computers). They are slightly xenophobic, tend to oppress the white worker Customers who migrated there from other Corporations, and are as close to genetic experts as they can get. XKZ is also the home of the Fingerlikkers, white-skinned Customers with partially animal features who tend to be treated as second-class citizens within the Corporation (though the General has abolished slavery and granted equal rights recently).
  • Sphereway, which is less of a Corporation and more of a Sphere-spanning (people assume) network of faster-than-light trains which link everything together. Sphereway is maintained by the Footlongs, which are like halflings only corrupt bureaucratic greedy assholes. These scrawny little jerks are obsessed with Quiznus (Sphereway-destroying bogeymen no Footlong has actually seen) and the threat of terrorists, enough so that they have created the hulking battle-droid Subz and signed away most of their personal freedom to the sinister AI Jared in exchange for protection.
  • Wynda, a psyonikally-inclined Corporation which lives in the colder regions of the Sphere and is ruled by Wendy, a relatively benevolent AI-Customer hybrid woman thing with godlike psionic powers. The native Windans worship her as a god, have natural psionic talent, grow hair with odd properties (from changing colour to suit mood to being useable as hands) and eat a lot of ice-cream and beer.

Wow, that was horribly long. Oh well, don't care.

To wrap up, here is a potential party you might see travelling the McSphere!

From left to right:

  • Blammo McMustard, a McNugget engineer who was once the cameraman for the Maxx propaganda show Maxx Tonight. His greatest fears are returning to Maxx, being eaten and cats.
  • Branston Pickle, a Brug soldier who fancies himself a paladin and is not above looting all his gear from dead opponents, by which he means living people. His favourite weapon is the Maxx quintuple-barreled Fry Rocket Launcher.
  • Kit Cappuccino, a Pequoid psyon who is more-or-less constantly high and hallucinates that he is actually a wizard in a bad fantasy heartbreaker who rides a rust monster called Toto. (He doesn't.)
  • John Johnson, a dapper Hutton who is exploring the options other Corporations could offer in terms of "things that will help me get my family back from Dominance". Pilots a scrappy old Klokwerk called Thatcher and hides a nuclear-powered laser cannon in his hat.

I have yet to run a proper game of it yet, sadly, but I'm more or less ready to go. As I said, I was going to run it with one guy who was extremely interested, except he quit when he found out he couldn't play a smart, intellectual type in this setting which was explicitly stated to not have them like fifty times previously. I banged my head against a desk and that was that.


That is all for now. Next time: Less words.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My "Settings": The Unplayed


Hey look, it's a pre-blog filler comic!

No, those aren't actually my house rules. I tend to change what is acceptable and what isn't with every game and every mood change. I used to allow deathblows until one guy got killed twice in two seperate minor mook battles by it. To be fair, though, he was kind of a dick.

Most of my house rules are the usual stuff you do in a homebrew setting; things that don't work like they do in the "core" setting have to be explicitly stated as such.

Incidentally, CR25 Hypermitotic Dungeon Master is almost a year old now. To celebrate, I'll try and get up to twenty posts! Specifically, those posts will be about homebrew campaign settings I have run. Mostly as a way of storing their summaries somewhere I can just link new players to, admittedly, but still.

I find actually making the settings problematic. I tend to leave large chunks of the world(s) blank, to be filled in later, and so a lot of my descriptions tend to be a little vague on some of the details. Also, I often find it hard to retcon things I've already put in. Also also, I worry about being unoriginal despite more or less openly stealing from multiple sources all the time. Tee hee.

So I don't actually have that many well-defined settings and ideas I haven't run yet. Oh, well. There's a first time for everything.

This post will kick it off by listing a few of the campaign/setting ideas I've had but never got around to playing. Some of them might be bad. Some might be "weeaboo" if you're crazy - okay, I'm lying, they're amazingly weeaboo. Some of you might rather I write about your old characters and how awesome they are, but this isn't a blog about sucking your dick, so...

Cthulhu Toppa Gurren Lagann

Okay, this one is
CthulhuTech. CT is basically a bunch of anime settings mashed together with the Mythos added. It is pretty swell, except one of those settings is Evangelion, and I don't like Evangelion. More to the point, I don't particularly like grim-and-dark settings a lot of the time (they tend to come across as dark and edgy for its own sake, and thus kind of terrible), but Evangelion is my least favourite anime ever so I'm going to blame it all on that and not the fact that it perfectly suits a Mythos setting.

What I do like - and if you watch anime you probably saw this coming - is
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is a... rather different show. So, what would combining CthulhuTech and TTGL be like?

Pretty simple. You start in a regular CT game, and you finish the campaign by slaying Azathoth or some other massive Mythos entity with a giant drill.

I've only tried running this once, and half-heartedly; I still wasn't good with the CT rules, so I wanted to run it in BESM, but I only got interest from one person who wanted me to learn the CT rules first anyway. Oh well.

Baby Kaiju

Another weeaboo setting idea!

Okay, so it's more-or-less Earth. Giant monsters (
kaiju, in other words) used to roam the Earth and occasionally attack cities. Eventually they killed each other off, the humans killed them or they vanished - since then, everyone either believes they are gone forever or (depending on what I feel like) the government has gone to amazing lengths to convince everyone it never happened.

The protagonists are high school students and such (mandatory for weeaboo settings, I hear). One day they come across a large egg. It hatches into a young, dog-sized version of one of those creatures.

It adopts one of the players as its parent. The other players probably come across other things to keep their "power level" in the same range; maybe their kaiju scientist father's old lab in the basement, or something.

Anyway, the players have to deal with issues about what to do with the young beast, possible government agents coming after them, whether or not to hide it, etc. Then the other baby kaiju start to appear around town and the battles begin...

I haven't tried running this one yet; one of the first games I ran with my usual gaming group was set in a high school and also a trainwreck (partly my fault, partly my terrible choice of players, partly their terrible choice of characters, partly my choice of 3.5 D&D...) so I haven't felt like it yet. Maybe one day...

Shatter

Less an adventure and more a setting. Basically, one day I decided to lump together a lot of the ideas I had for my "usual" setting that didn't work any more and came up with Shatter, a world which suffered disaster and was reduced to floating continents in space.

It's gone through quite a few revisions with only a few things in common across versions (like drug-taking myconids and crazy time/space-violating rivers) - the first version actually had lasers and spaceships. Eventually, I'll deem it playable.

Planescape: Bioshock

This was a half-assed idea I had a while ago, which I mostly remember because someone who didn't like Bioshock got impressively upset about it.

Basically, Rapture is actually a city built on the Elemental Plane of Water. Plasmids become Planesmids, which are made out of planar essence and grant people powers related to the plane it came from. ADAM is harvested from sea slugs that live a little too close to an ever-shifting planar vortex. Andrew Ryan is a Fated (I think; I thought of this a while ago and forgot who was who.)

And so on. The central problem (apart from it being half-assed) is that if you played Bioshock you know how it ends, kind of like people who play in games running published adventure modules and mysteriously know where all the secret treasure rooms are.

Which turn out to be filled with beholders.

Some Kind Of Sci-Fi Thing

In even more vaguely defined territory, I've got a few ideas that don't work in my regular fantasy setting because they need spaceships. Usually I just include magic anyway so it's more of a Spelljammer thing, but eh, whatever.

Actually this one is pretty undefined, I just want to run a sci-fi game. One of these days!!

I'm Just Going To List Some Dot Points Now

I am way too lazy to type these all up properly.
  • Something with superheroes; the closest I have gotten was a solo adventure starring a man in a superhero setting who was also an ex-supervillain who started taking medicine to curb his mad evil scientist tendencies and opened a detective agency as something to do
  • An alternate Earth where magic exists, and it is expressed via games of Rock-Paper-Scissors
  • An alternate Earth where magic exists, and it is expressed via the Internet. At least one character gains powers by keeping his webcomic updated. Also there would probably be trolls!
  • Something set in some kind of unusual high school, because for some reason I've been pretty interested in that.
  • A campaign revolving around hunting and killing a certain type of creature where half the players don't come up with character sheets designed to do 200+ damage to that type of creature a round while being woefully terrible against any creatures not of that type which show up, and they will
  • A post-apoc setting. I tend to lump together most of the possible causes of the setting from meteors to zombies to war to nuclear radiation, so it ends up a little weird. (I tried this once, but then my schedule changed...)

I haven't fleshed out a lot of these, as I said. But one day, when I actually have time to run another game, maybe they'll see the light of day.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Dilemm4


If anyone asks, I was here and not being absorbed by Wrath of the Lich King/the TF2 scout update.

That's right, I play WoW. That can be this post's obligatory controversial statement, unless you would prefer one of the paragraphs below.

So, last post - too long ago, considering it's almost been a year since I made the blog and I haven't written twenty posts yet - I said one of my flaws (or at least one I recognised) was "I am wary of new players and indecisive about the ones I am already with". But that wording is bad and I should feel bad; it's better to say that I am wary of new and current players but just kind of let them do what they want to do and be passive-aggressive about it.

I've also been told that I can be a control freak, though the person making that suggestion had pretty terrible arguments. One was this time I railroaded the party pretty hard - but hey, I did realise my mistake and settle it quickly. Not to mention the player in question had done far worse at the time and insists that's all in the past so we should forget about it.

Oh, well. At least now I know it was a mistake. Now I will never speak of this again.

The other was because I think one of the sidebars I came across in my 4E book when I was just skimming it is fucking stupid.

Segue, go!

Here is the sidebar in its entirety, name omitted because I enjoy his work (even if nobody actually read Magic of Incarnum):

Tips from the Pros

Something amazing happened one time I was playing D&D with my 9-year-old son. When we finished an encounter, my son took over. He decided that he was going to search around one of the statues in the room, that he was going to get hit by a trap (an arrow would shoot out at the statue), and that he’d find a treasure there.

Hey, wait a minute. I thought I was the DM!

That was my first reaction. But I bit my tongue. I rolled damage for the trap, and I let him have his treasure. (I determined what it was—I wasn’t about to relinquish that much control.)

He never enjoyed the game more.

I learned the most important lesson about D&D that day. I remembered that this is a game about imagination, about coming together to tell a story as a group. I learned that the players have a right to participate in telling that story—after all, they’re playing the protagonists!

Here's my problem: The story and the moral are fine.

Yes, yes, that's not a problem. BUT!

They don't work together. I mean, imagine if the player in the story was nineteen, or twenty-, thirty-, or even higher-nine, and not the DM's son. Does this story still end the same way in your head, or does it end in ninja hydras coming out of nowhere to eat him? Because personally, if anyone old enough to do the horizontal mambo tried that on me, I'd be more likely to give them five across the face than treasure.

The problem I have is the story's placement as the lead-in to a moral about not railroading or whatever. I mean, the same guy says in an earlier sidebar that to him, "the DM is the person who prepares adventures, plans a campaign, and runs the monsters and NPCs." I'm not sure but I'm pretty sure that means it's him who gets to design the goddamn dungeon. Giving the players freedom is all well and good, but placement of traps and treasure isn't their call. It's the DM, who is hopefully not cocking it up.

That aside... yes, I made a 4E post! Don't get your hopes up, though. I've only skimmed the thing. It's not that I don't like it - I can't really consider myself as having a proper opinion on it until I give it some more reading time - I just can't be bothered. Also, admittedly, what I came across while skimming wasn't good. Like that sidebar above, or tieflings reading like a ham-fisted attempt to attract teenage boys.

But I can't avoid 4E, because I don't want to fall into the age trap. I'm actually pretty young - 3E was my first system - but I don't want to keep playing 3E forever. I'll become one of those weird old guys who grows out his neckbeard and plays only obsolete games people stopped publishing in 1982, or writes long-winded pretentious blog posts about the minutiae of his homebrew system for simulating tectonic plate shift and other things nobody gives a shit about.

To be blunt, I'm too young to be a grognard.

So, I'll give 4E a try sometime soon. It can't be any worse than 3.x, am I right?