Thursday, December 31, 2015

Beam me up!

Amarillo Design Bureau are the designers of one of my favourite games: Starfleet Battles. The game is based on Star Trek TOS and the animated series. If you are looking for a game that captures the flavour of Star Trek, this is for you. Each ship has limited power to complete its objectives, it is up to you to provide that energy to overcome your opponent.
ADB has one of the most active player bases I have ever seen, each book typically has a page of contact information detailing the roles of each staff member at ADB. In addition there are usually several player submitted questions answered in each and sometimes special acknowledgement of players who have gone the extra mile to question rules, events and themes within the game.
Although Starfleet Battles is my favourite game produced by ADB, they have a wide variety of products to suit nearly every sci-fi fans desires. Please take a moment to visit them.

StarFleet Battles

There are just a handful of tabletop games that have any longevity. Star Fleet Battles (SFB) has been around since 1979, which is pretty amazing. The game is based on the Star Trek Original Series (TOS) and includes a variety of species not found in any other series.
The game places you in the Captain’s chair to do battle with a host of enemies. Ships are ranked by Basic Point Value so players can select ships of the equal power or use the point system to handicap one or more players. All ships are limited to certain pre-planned actions that consume energy. With limited energy only bold, daring, and cunning captains win.
Your choices of powers are: Federation, Romulan, Klingon, Gorn, Kzinti, Tholian, Orion Pirates, WYN, ISC, Lyran, and Hydran. Each power’s ships have a different flavor and to win you need to know not just your ship, but the enemies too. If that’s not enough, each power has dozens of ship choices. No two ships are remotely the same, captain. Planning is key to winning.
All ships share some basic characteristics: a top speed, turn rate, boxes representing equipment, weapons, shields, etc. When a ship runs out of internal boxes, it is all over. Boxes require some energy to function, with a few exceptions like shuttles or drones which are self-powered.
There are a myriad of weapon choices. Phasers are found on most ships, especially Federation ships. Phasers have a couple of different types basically describing the range and power. The Fed’s also have a photo torpedo as a heavy weapon. Klingon’s use disruptors which are more powerful than Phasers but require more time to charge. To offset the rate of fire, they have drones as a supplemental weapon. The Romulan’s have a monstrous weapon called the Plasma Torpedo. One hit can blow down a cruiser’s shields; two hits can transform a cruiser into an expanding ball of plasma. Luckily, they can only fire once per three (or two) turns. For this reason, they have cloaking devices and pseudo-torpedoes to fake out an adversary.
SFB is a knife-fight, not a slugfest. The last thing most captains do is waltz up their opponent and let ’em have it. Usually, your opponent can make you pay more for that than you can afford. Then they wipe the game board up with what is left of you. Don’t do it.
The game turn is broken into 32 (or 16 in the Cadet game) segments called an impulse. In a turn’s 32 impulse series, each ship has X energy to move, shoot, power shields, and run other systems. This means you have to both posture and fight. Bluffing is critical to SFB.
Each ship has a best firing point and range, so know what it is and get there when you are good and ready; hopefully that point is not where your opponent wants you to be. In addition, some ships are equipped to either dance outside of your sweet spot peppering you fire or ride right through it.
One of the coolest aspects of this game is the player derived content. Each book has one or more pages of submission information. Players write articles, tactics, artwork, create ships and scenarios. Sometimes key concepts are named after the creative ones. Three classic attacks are named by players or for them. Mizia strikes ,The Gorn Anchor and Yo-yo-ing are all player created strategies.
Doesn’t it sound complex? Heck yeah, but wait until you add on Advanced Mission to the Basic rules for even more detail. The options are endless. But the best feature of SFB is the player support from the staff at Amarillo Design Bureau. Their website is loaded with content, including a free download of the Cadet Game. This is a simplified rule set of the Basic edition rules. Don’t forget to check them out on Facebook.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Google Docs Templates for D&D

Google Drive shared files and templates are a rich find for gamers of all types.
Under templates, you can find a ton of D&D resources.
My personal favorite is Benjamin Connell’s 3.5 Character Sheet. I plan on making the standard for my 3.5 campaigns.

As time permits, I will be loading pre-genned characters in the top bar. Right now, I have characters for D&D and AD&D. I also have a link to my own AD&D character sheet for Unearthed Arcana pictured on the right.

Additionally, if you like having secondary skills for PCs or stat'd up NPCs, try my book Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners.

Feelies

I was seriously into gaming, I made feelies.


This was made in 1988 or so. It references the Castle Amber module, The Order of Light from Gemstone III, and Louise Cooper’s the Time Master Series, plus the city of Charn from my home brewed campaign.
The punchline to many of these references was that the characters AND players were aware of all of these references as works of fiction. The characters had copies of the Time Master Series and Averoigne stories. Each character has ring of wishes to enter the stories themselves.
When I was in high school, this seemed like a great hook.

Right! Now we are going to have company again! (Vampires)

What do you do when vampires show up? The old classics: garlic, holy water and crosses.
What do you do if you don’t have those things?
 Looks like I wasn’t the only one who got lucky last night.
Get creative or die. If it all goes to hell, you die creatively and that’s something to be written on your tombstone.
Remember the basics. Vampires can’t enter a home uninvited. Should this happen, a quick exchange of money can fix the situation. Stables, churches and other areas are not homes. Don’t hide there without a backup plan.
Holy water is great, but grease and oil are surprising. Lock the door, grease the floor and upturn a table in the middle of the room. When the vampire smashes his way in, down he goes, ready for a nice stake.
Variation two involves spraying oil under the door as the vampire attacks it. This keeps him out for the short term.
Both of these tricks makes vampires respect locked doors.
Water is another great benefit, as are small boats. Packing a rowboat full of characters in the middle of body of water is an impenetrable barrier to blood suckers. Should they turn to gas or a bat and attack the boat this way, it can be capsized and hidden under.
Fire on a larger ship is a nightmare, but doubly so for vampires. Always burn the ship before it gets dark and well out to sea, just in case.
Seeds. Vampires have obsessions and counting is one of them. Throwing seeds is a great delaying tactic. Make sure you are not holding an envelope full of seeds labeled “144 count”. This never works.
Tying is another obsession of vampires. Braiding or unbraiding your hair can be of use. However, half of this is the delaying action and half is emphasizing your neck as a target.
Many rule sets allow for knockouts if the damage is high enough. A wand of fireballs can turn a flock of vampires flying over a moat into fish food quickly. Fireballs do more damage in confined spaces. Fireballs do not have to fired direct at a target to do damage, so fire them behind the target to knock them forwards. Or in front of them to force them back.
Always remember the game mechanics that allows you to move other characters. You can’t hurt a vampire barehanded, but boy does the sun sting if you shove them outside.
There are myriad ways of dealing with vampires. Let me know if you have any favorites.

3.5 House Rules – A Crock of Equipment

Sometimes, deception is required for characters to make headway. If a caravan is ambushed every time there are no obvious defenders, it may be beneficial to hand the wizard a lance. Weapons, no matter how old or unserviceable maybe pressed into service for deceptive purposes. I have a house rule for this effect.
When a character is untrained with a type of weapon, but that weapon itself is unserviceable, the attacker only suffers half the normal penalty but only does half the damage. For instance, a wizard with a lance will suffer a -2 instead of a minus 4. The attacker only does 1d3 or 1d4 damage, which can be doubled for being mounted. The weapon is also dropped on impact. This modification occurs because the wielder is using a  known weapon in an extraordinary way. It is not normal to fling a two-handed sword at someone’s feet or let go of a lance on impact.
Players may opt to retain the weapon, but automatically switch back to the normal -4 penalty for being untrained.
Armor can also be used in the same way, with the Armor check penalty being halved. Old, unserviceable armor is ripped away when the wearer is hit or the wearer fails a Armor check roll. Since this is really poor armor, it is easily damaged. Damaged armor still inflicts half the penalties, so characters should remove it immediately. This requires either a Dex or Str roll, at the DM’s discretion.
Another trick is Doodad Armor.
Doodad Armor is a fake armor. Typically, this deceptive armor is constructed of leather, wood and blocked felt, with metal connectors. It is very warm to wear, but far less cumbersome than real armor. It imposes one half the normal Armor check roll for the type simulated and is not destroyed when struck. However, it may show signs of distress atypical of normal armor. For example, Plate Doodad armor will show a large tear when struck by a weapon.
It functions as padded armor, no matter the type of armor simulated. This can cause an Arcane Spell Failure. Speed is unmodified by this special purpose armor, so enemies may be surprised by quick movements.
Doodad armor can also be ripped off, as it is designed to be removed quickly. This requires a Dex check.
Depending on your campaign, deceptive armor types can give a bonus one or two to grappling, as both Doodad armor and damaged armor has all kinds of extra friendly grab points to enable an attacker. The attacker would have to be aware that the armor is fake to receive a bonus. This requires either a prior strike or a Wisdom check.
One comical result is a grappler grabbing the arms of the armor and pulling, which is a Strength check. The defender can also make a strength check to rip the armor off. What happens next is usually comedy gold.

Five Minute Map - Island

Google Plus is a rich repository of gaming information. One of my favorite communities is Five Minute Maps.
Yesterday, I had five minutes to sketch out a quick map.
This map is based off of the real life island of New Providence. I envisioned a port city as the capital and a series of canals connecting the east and west coasts via small lakes. A little north of these canals is a series a small ponds modeled on the Finger Lake regions of New York.
Inspiration came from my summer time vacationing.

Quick Doodle - Stave Church

I’ve been doodling to get back in the habit of drawing. Tonight’s offering is a Norse themed church.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Rifts on Google Plus


I haven’t played Rifts since 1995. One of the key elements of play is simplicity, and the highlight of the rules is the artwork. Palladium has been producing quality works for decades.
I am tempted to pull out my old books and give it a roll again. But for now, I will have to content myself by watching others in the Rifts Google Plus Community.

J5T - Classical Hack

The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com and DriveThruRPG, respectively. Funny that my site is missing a reference to Classical Hack.
Classical Hack is a full gaming system created and published by Lynne and Philip Viverito. As a kid, I watched epic battles play out in my living room, dining room, basement, garage and bedroom. At first I was an outsider, then I was a participant.
My parents engaged me in creativity and gamesmanship from a very young age. Castles and knights lurked in every corner of our home. Every house and every apartment we ever lived had a game room. And if it didn’t, any room and every room could be transformed into one.
One of my earliest memories was of a convention in Lockport, New York. My dad had constructed an amazing castle of incredible detail, complete with a custom table to hold it. The whole construct seemed amazingly tall, I couldn’t reach the top standing on a chair.
I recall sitting on the edge of tables as dice were rolled and Romans met barbarians with sword and spear. People played, laughed and cursed late into the night.
Which brings me to Classical Hack.
 ClassicalHack.com is a web site dedicated to historical miniature gaming, created by life long gamers. 
The game system is very period specific. The series includes:
  • Holy Hack Hacking by the Book Biblical Warfare,
  • Homeric Hack Warfare in the Age of Homer,
  • Classical Hack Warfare from 600 BC to 250 AD,
  • Hack In the Dark Warfare in the Dark Ages 250 AD to 1000 AD,
  • Knight Hack Warfare in Middles Ages 1000 AD to 1450 AD,
  • Pike Hack The Road to Dunbar Warfare in the Age of Cromwell.
To support these rules there are two scenario books:
  • Classical Hack Rome
  • Classical Hack Macedonia.
All books, even prototypes were written on Macintosh Computers typically using Adobe for editing and page layout.
You can check out ClassicalHack.com for updates to this great gaming system, get it from DriveThruRPG or purchase a copy from Amazon:

Or DriveThruRPG. 



Saturday, December 26, 2015

Fire 7"

Oh, did the family score this Christmas. We each picked up a Fire, 7" Tablet.

The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com.

(Ads provided by Amazon help fund this site by remuneration for clicks and purchases.)

These little devices work with almost any computer. I tried it on a Windows 7 and a Chromebook and both worked well. I was able to make some magic and install Google Play and Google Drive without too much trouble.

Here we have DoubleTwist from the Google Play Store displaying Matt and Kim from Amazon Music.

Between the native Amazon app and the Play Store, I have the best mix of software available on Tabbies today. Below you can see my new favorite NewsHog, available from the Amazon store. It beast the heck out of Google News.


In the coming days, I am sure I will be adding more great software. I can't wait to sink my teeth into this thing.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Strange Chromebook XFCE Glitch

This morning, I had some trouble with my version of XFCE on my Chromebook. Tab-Alt stopped working, the menu bar had vanished, the programs opened would not keep focus and the cursor was either X or invisible.

How I hate messing with a perfectly good distro. The solution is rather easy. Delete your ~/.cache/sessions directory and the functions come back after logoff/reboot. How simple.


Of course, I forgot you can't rm directories and needed to try three times before I remembered the rm -r modifier. So the actual command is above.

Whew! Thank god for Ubuntu and XFCE's easy of use. If this was Windows, I'd be screwed.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Going Off the Rails – Part Three

In the last post, I described a player created assassin named Bloodless Jack. He sprang from the character’s minds fully formed and all I had to do was give him a character sheet and a band of minions. The players even gave him a very cool name. Somehow, minor details of a handful of traps inspired them to create a character out thin air. And he was so epic, I had to make him real.
I decided that he had two types of minions, one group of sword slinging fighters for security and targeted attacks and a second group of cleric-rogues for sneaky infiltration type work. Bloodless Jack would have a chief of operations, a warrior named Marcus Bastion. A nice strong name for someone who handles front line fighting and defense. 
How these two met in my mind was very natural. They were brothers. Bloodless Jack and Marcus Bastion. Everything makes sense… Wrong. 
Of course, it’s wrong. Brothers would never have different last names; Jack is as stupid a last name as Bloodless is a stupid first name. I completely understood that, so Bloodless Jack was obviously a nickname. And a character/player created nickname.

Obvious. Or so I thought.
Bloodless Jack, or just plain Alexander Bastion launches ambushes, targeted assassinations and finally outright treason to topple the crown prince for fame and glory.
So when the characters cornered Marcus and his brother in an attack on the crown prince, they asked:
“Which one of you is the assassin known as ‘Bloodless Jack’?”
Alex and his brother Marcus chuckled. The follow up question, “Who lead this attack?” was also met with a snort of derision as Marcus was suited in full plate and obviously leading the assault.
Marcus went down fighting… and upon his defeat was outed as the deadly assassin know to all as “Bloodless Jack”.
And thus, “Bloodless Jack” was truly born. Alex rallied his and his brother’s minions and relentlessly attacked the characters at every turn. An epic battle to the death, fought in back alleys and shadowy corners of dozens of towns, across an kingdom, all the way to the brother’s mountain top enclave.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Going Off the Rails – Part Two

Player inventions… How many times have you had a player try to invent something and complete throw a campaign into chaos?
Many years ago, I was running a campaign that had too many rogues to be well rounded. There was not much need for traps in this world, they only came in three varieties:
Noise making traps on homes,
Animal traps,
Generic fortification defenses.
Being made up of thieves, the party kept checking for traps where there were none. Since it was a point of interest for them, and one player rolled very well, I decided that a box did have a trap. I described workings in great and gory detail. The players and their thieving characters ate it up. Of course, the next door had a trap. Lacking any foresight, I described this trap as exactly as the one before.
And the seed was planted.
The next chest had the same trap as the first two, except this time it killed a character. My bad, I didn’t expect this to happen, but the players had. As the play paused to reroll a new character, of course another rogue, I overheard the strangest thing:
“Bloodless Jack got ya.”
“That was awesome.” said another player.
“What do you think he wants?”
“Don’t know. It could be that chalice.”
“Naw, we are going to give it away and a priest is a much easier target than us.”
“Fame,” added a third.
“Yes! It makes sense that someone would want fame and notoriety. Sort of like the guy in the cabin mailing bombs.”
“Ted something, right?”
“Yeah. We should nail this guy before he gets us.”
In just a 30 minute character generating session, the players had worked out that they were up against an assassin. A very detail orientated, cunning and evil assassin. A man who called himself Bloodless Jack. Bloodless as in so cold, the blood didn’t run in his veins. They had gathered all these details from the repeated description of a single trap described the exact same way, three times over.
Oops. These traps were simply on the fly details in response to the character’s expectations. At no time did I picture a mysterious assassin. I didn’t say anything that would have laid such an awesome name on him. In fact, there was no assassin except in the players minds.
Guess what? The very next session had a very fleshed out assassin bent on killing the characters. This assassin was neatly merged with the prior story, assassinating the priest who hired the players. He then took out the boat captain that hired the characters for security. As time went on, the characters were defending the crowned prince against this diabolical fiend.

Unable to create directory... Wordpress error (formerly http://unpwnd.com/?p=555)

Friday evening, I was hit by series of errors from WordPress. When uploading images, I was confronted by these error messages:
“Unable to create directory wp-content/uploads/2015/01. Is its parent directory writable by the server?”
“The uploaded file could not be moved to wp-content/uploads/2015/01″
Obviously, my permissions were off, but I couldn't figure out where.
The quick and dirty work around was to log into GoDaddy’s file management tool and create files and upload images via the tool. Back in WordPress, I needed to select a previously existing image and edit the code to match the files and directories I created in the previous stop.
That is not optimal and not advisable. 
The correct answer is to correct the permissions on the server via the file management tool. I made several attempts, but it didn’t seem to work. After calling GoDaddy, I found where I was going wrong.
First and always, log out of WordPress. Second, the items Web Visible and Web Writable need to be ticked on the WordPress upload folder. The directory location is: /wp-content/uploads/. You likely don’t have permission to edit the webroot directory, and you shouldn't give that much permission that high up.
If you select the folder and view the settings you will not see the ticks because the Inherit tick disables those options. Untick it.
The other two become active. You can see the problem right away, the folder isn’t Web Writable. Tick it. 
If you need a quick fix, this is it. Stop reading now, since I don't have any better suggestion to offer. 
If you are still reading, this WILL correct the issue temporarily, but this is not an optimal solution. I contacted GoDaddy 3 times over this issue. 
The first time, the chat agent attempted to reset my permissions, which wasn't the answer at all. I had all the permissions I needed, I simply needed a little more information. I only mention this because you do not want to waste time like this. Don't use chat, they have a tendancy of "escalating" contacts to unnamed people who will effect fixes in 30 minutes to several hours. It never works, don't use chat. 
The second time provided me with the information above. This is also not the correct solution, because it is a quick fix that does not stop the error from happening. I experienced this error more than 40 times from 5 different webpages, hosted on two different GoDaddy servers. I expressed the belief that someone or thing was resetting this one particular permission by accident. The rep said that it was possible, but he did not see that happening. 
The third time, the rep insisted that my use of php based forms was the cause of the issue and it was my fault for using php forms, I need to purchase several things to prevent "php injection attacks". GoDaddy suggested I use Wordpress when I purchased my hosting, because it was very secure and they would be able to address any troubleshoot concerns that I had with it. The last issue is my sites were hosted on a shared server. This is a good cheap solution, but it also means that if someone else has a problem I could have that problem, too. 
The GoDaddy agent was actually suggesting that they have a known problem where people can assess their server with no login credentials at all and modify files at will and not show up on any logs. I had a hardened version of Wordpress, I changed my login ids often and I was not seeing any additional files or files with modification dates that did not correspond to my editing patterns. The changes made by this "intrusion" actually made my site HARDER to attack by removing permissions from a valid function, without making any other modifications.
When I asked for any more information such as server logs, support, etc., I experienced an upcharge menu. Basically, these upcharges highlighted the difference between what I was told I was purchasing and the services I was actually being provided. 
You will notice that I am now on Blogger, a free platform and no longer hosting with GoDaddy. My primary purpose for this change is to get away from the frustration I was experiencing. Let's be real, I was paying under $20 to host 5 websites. For years, GoDaddy provided a wonderful and valuable service for four dollars a month. At some point, quality declined. I was no longer receiving the top end service I had come to expect, likely because I was paying for low end service. I can't really blame GoDaddy for this, but realistically I was paying 20 bucks for headaches. 
I seriously doubt the whole "PhP iNj3cTi0n 4tTaCk!!!!" line the agent tried to sell me on. I do not think they would be in business for very long if they allowed unrestricted access to their servers via the Wordpress install that they provide. That is idiotic. I am more inclined to believe that this is a misguided attempt at security, where someone in house, at GoDaddy is changing settings to be more cautious and more secure without bothering to address the issues this causes with one or more products they sell.
Using GoDaddy for hosting is really not a good option for me. If you are encountering this problem intermittently and it is within your tolerance level, they are a good choice. If not, time to move. I still use GoDaddy for my URL and such. That will not change anytime soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Going off the Rails – Part One

Have you ever had a night of gaming go off the rails?
I had a 3 hours session turn into a 6-7 hour marathon of gaming. We should have cut it off, but everyone was having too much fun. The players had reached a remote village and were trying to set up a trade agreement. They offended the villagers and the party tried an Indiana Jones style escape to a rope bridge and escape.
The one magic users who could have stopped the villagers with a spell instead flew to the bridge with axe. He was prepared to cut the bridge after his fellow adventurers made it across. This is when the game exhaustion hit.
All of the players shouted “Cut it now!” And the magic user complied, trapping everyone on the wrong side of the bridge. Note that it was the players that made the request, their characters obviously were to far away. A little meta-gaming goes a long way when injected into the story.
We ended right there with everyone high-fiving and congratulating each other. Only the player who cut the bridge looked concerned and perplexed.
At the start of the next session, everyone was sheepish. With a little sleep, they realized the implications of last session. I started the next session with the characters toweling off from their heroic leap to into the river and swim to safety.
Sometimes, you just have to end with a gag to keep the fun alive. Die rolling and tactics are great, but a story sometimes has to jump to stay alive.


Chaos Star

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Study in Recreation: Fear Itself

Today’s update is aboutKippers and Jam‘s blog post on recreation. Adrian BK and company has revisited a module called Fear Itself, created back in 1999.
The authors lost the original copy and rewrote it after reconnecting with each other.
The details:
Module: BK1 Fear Itself
Author: Adrian BK
Level: 2-4 (AD&D)
Pages: 18
Price: Free!
You can download a copy from Kippers and Jam. This module features enough leeway to plug into nearly any campaign or play style. Fear Itself features glorious artwork from many artists and professional quality layout and formatting.
Take a look and don’t forget to thank the folks at Kipper and Jam for providing high quality game products.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Camp

This is the first year I haven’t been to camp with my boys. Both have moved up from Cub Scout to Boy Scout and no longer require their parents at camp.
The program run by the Greater Niagara Frontier Council is amazing. Through out the summer, they mentor and guide youngsters to be the best they can. The leaders and counselors work gruelling hours out in the rough, week after week, all through July and into August. Parents and leaders only see a brief 4 day window of camp life. The staff lives it for weeks to make it all possible.
I already miss our 4 day camps. One of my favorite people at Camp Scouthaven is Digger, the camp Ranger.
He is always “on”, he is the face of the camp from sun up to sun down. He works tirelessly to make sure the camp is an amazing experience for young and old alike.
To put a point on it, I went to camp as a child and don’t really have a clear recollection of it. No one really stood out. My daughter dropped in for a closing dinner raves about Digger and his antics. If she remembers from a brief encounter over dinner, my boys are going to have wonderful memories of their time in camp.
If you have the opportunity to camp at Scouthaven, jump at it. If camping is not your thing, be sure to check out the GNFC website for other happenings at the camp, like the yearly sugar mapling breakfast.

The Waterhorse

Another image from my sketchpad, a waterhorse.



I am going to frame this one for my wife. 

Well, that didn't work out. She took it out the frame and got a tattoo. 



Monday, July 20, 2015

The Evil Reversal Hook

The characters have proven their worth to the Horned One. They have pursued the Hand of Light to the edges of the kingdom and captured him in a epic battle.
On this day, they will assume their Mantles of Rank during the ritual of sacrifice. The Hand of Light will be extinguished forever. The Horned One will consolidate his power with the elimination of the weak, as the prophecy foretold.
One last time, before the ceremonial shackles are transferred from the hands of the followers of the Horned One to the hands of the Light One, the enemies stand face to face in the darkness of a cell.
Drums pound as the ritual has begun in the next chamber. The Hand of Light smirks and winks. A guard moves forward to strike him, but a quarrel arrests the motion. No harm can come to the Hand of Light except the final strike in the ritual chamber. The guards grumble profanities at the fate of their comrade, but step over the corpse.
The Hand of Light pushes his way into position at the head of the hooded procession, and the final sacrifice stomps away with the clinking of shackles.
Dim light, smoke and heat pour from braziers around the ceremony chamber. The Hand of Light’s robe is a smudge of white before the altar. The High Priest of the Horned One steps forward but the Hand of Light turns his back to him.
Or so it seemed. The ceremonial shackles click tight as the Hand of Light and Horned One of Chaos turn their attention to the sacrifice of the weak. Guards panic as the room erupts in cloying smoke and the characters struggle to free themselves from the shackles that have secretly held them for many years.
Madness reigns as the struggle for life and death rages in ceremony chamber of Chaos…

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Five years ago… My tech support hell ended

Five long years ago, I quit my technical support job. I couldn't do it anymore.
Me: What seems to be the issue?
Woman: My monitor is broken.
Me: *click* No, it isn’t. It’s just off.
Woman: Yeah, that’s the problem. That green light is bothering me and when I press that little button, it turns off. The problem is, when the green light turns off, the monitor stops working.
Me: That is the power indicator light. It’s on when the monitor is on…
Woman: Yes, you understand!!! No one else understood the problem.
Me: …
I am very happy where I am now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bedtime stories

The kids always fight bedtime stories because bed comes after story.
But I hooked them in the first two paragraphs. This sentence sealed the deal:
“Three children played in the garden; Alta was ten, Jason was twelve and Varina was three hundred and seven.”


The Delikon by H. M. Hoover is one of my favorites and now it has my kids hooked, too.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reposting Peninsula of Plenty (PoP) Maps

These two maps are my first attempt at marker colored maps, in recent memory anyway.

Thanks to the guys and gals over on G+ I received a lot of advice on markering technique.
I hope to do version two in either marker or colored pencil.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Fortress Of Potamus Lake (PoP Campaign)


 Potamus Lake is the primary ranching area on the Peninsula of Plenty.


Historically, the largest threat to citizens are hippopotami. Many ranch houses are round or square homes with very thick walls, usually 4 to 5 feet thick or more, to protect villagers from hippo attacks. The homes are overbuild as a style, hippopotami don’t really attack the walls. This animal threat precludes flooded moats as defenses.
During The Goblinoid Wars, some of these houses were transformed into veritable fortresses. The Gerent’s House was expanded to a daunting 7 story fort. All of these structures have a ramshackle look; they are not particular good forts, but representative of what was available at the time.
There are seven surviving forts around the Lake. Many ranchers have adopted a more villa-like style for building. 
Each map has the scale of one square = 5 feet. The exterior doors and tower doors are massive, very thick. Doors to the stairways are more modest, typical to a home rather than a fortress.
Typical main floor layout. Click to enlarge.
Spiral stairs are denoted on each level. Examination of the map shows the poor quality of construction.

Map suitable for second floors and higher. Click to enlarge.

No interior walls are shown, except for the entryways to the stair cases. Barred windows appear more prominently on this level to make up for the inadequate arrow loops. 

Seventh floor of Gerent's house.
The Gerent’s House uses the same layout for floors 2-6, so one map can be used several times. His home has a circular and squarish tower for the seventh floor and a large roof area over the main hall.



These two layouts can be used as either alternate rooftops or basements. The Gerent’s house has a small square root cellar and uses the third map for the seventh floor.
Alternate roof (accidentally rotated 180 degrees.)
This is an alternate rooftop, in the event that the home has a higher center hall on the floor below. There are two options for access, climbing an exterior ladder from the tower rooftops below or some sort of trapdoor an ladder from the main hall. In these fortified homes, a peaked roof may appear on this level.  
I hope you enjoy these maps and can find a home for them in your campaign.