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DShomshak last won the day on October 11

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  1. As far as common-or-garden wands go, the only example we have is the scene in Ollivander's wand shop (book 1). Ollivander starts by taking numerous measurements of Harry. One may presume these figures mean something to Mr. Ollivander, suggesting he has some occult science (like palmistry or moleosophy) for calculating what properties a wand should have. Only it doesn't work with Harry. Eventually, though, Ollivander has Harry try the wand that is "brother" to Lord Voldemort's, and that's the one. Curious, as Ollivander says. In Hero terms, it looks like Ollivander has some kind of Skill for matching wands with wizards. At first he seems to have failed his Skill Roll. But then he looks beyond the mechanical, calculated system -- thinking in deeper, mystical terms. And that Skill Roll succeeds... incidentally giving the first clue to a deeper, ongoing connection between Harry and Voldemort. Or possibly, there's only one Skill Roll here. Normally, Ollivander's system matches each customer with a wand that's good enough. In most cases, there's no special difficulty. When the system doesn't work with Harry, Ollivander succeeds at his KS: Wand Lore roll to get some idea why the system isn't working, and what he should try instead. The Elder Wand is something different, though. It has very precise requirements for who can use it. In this case, one might actually represent the Elder Wand as a Follower, a computer with, hm, Detect Victory and Defeat? Dean Shomshak
  2. DShomshak

    More space news!

    My local newspaper, the Tacoma News Tribune, reprinted this story from the Tri-City Herald on Sunday: Hanford observatory detects black hole waves | Tri-City Herald www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article222554785... The LIGO Hanford observatory near Richland has detected gravitational waves in space from 4 more black hole collisions. The black hole detections were in collaboration with Virgo and LIGO Livingston. Possibly more for the "local news" angle than for the pure science angle, but I won't complain. Dean Shomshak
  3. Hagrid was no squib: With the broken wand in his umbrella, he was able to light a fire and give Dudley a pig's tail. Okay, he was trying for a whole pig, but he seemed well ahead of, say, Filch. The Elder Wand was no psychological crutch: It had power of its own, which it did not grant to Voldemort because he hadn't met its conditions. It's also a running theme through the books that magic has deeper mysteries that Voldemort persistently ignores. So, I'd say that there really is such a thing as having "the right wand," which gives an advantage to the witch or wizard who owns it. Perhaps Ollivander's insistence that "the wand chooses the wizard" is a clumsy attempt to enunciate a resonance that no one really understands... but is nevertheless quite real. In Hero terms, it might be something like levels to a Skill Roll on a personal Focus; or even a small separate VPP that only adds to a character's VPP, again on a personal Focus. Dean Shomshak
  4. DShomshak

    More space news!

    Heard on the evening news: InSight sends back the first audio from Mars. The seismograph and, IIRC, wind gauge register the sound of the Martian wind. Dean Shomshak
  5. DShomshak

    Asimov's Mule

    Speaking of Ebling Mis, the Mule's driving him to discover the secret of the Second Foundation might include an INT Aid as a well as an induced obsession. The obsession is the "special effect" for the INT Aid, though -- Mis was driven to "push" his own thought processes, raising his Deduction high enough to infer the Second Foundation's true location. Dean Shomshak
  6. DShomshak

    In other news...

    I remember the song, too. Heard it many years ago on the Doctor Demento radio show and taped it off the air. (Wow, I'm old.) I also thank Death Tribble: It's a classic! (Classic of what, let us not say.) Dean Shomshak
  7. DShomshak

    In Need of Some Examples and Recommendations

    <bows> I live to serve. Dean Shomshak
  8. DShomshak

    In Need of Some Examples and Recommendations

    So. I'm not sure how useful these examples may be to Scott (or anyone else). All I can say is that back when I frequented White Wolf's Exalted forum, I never saw anyone demand more information on the parliamentary procedures of the Scarlet Empire Deliberative, or the differences in family structure among the five tribes of Harborhead. What got positive response was the cool image, character or story hook that people could drop into their games. Whatever you're designing, present that as quickly as possible. Once you've hooked the reader, maybe they'll stick around for the explanations that make sense of it all. Dean Shomshak
  9. DShomshak

    In Need of Some Examples and Recommendations

    Moving along: Since I, ah, do not quite share the particular historical/political filters of the people who devised the Guild for Exalted, I also lobbied to include a few sample characters who enage in trade without being horribly evil. This bit, in which I attempted to give the Guild a little more complexity and nuance, came from a little section on voyageurs, solitary merchant-explorers inspired by fur trappers and such ilk. Raksha, btw, are Exalted's answer to elves. They are beautiful humanoid masks for soul-sucking Lovecraftian entities from the Outer Chaos. And they love to play with their food. Dean Shomshak
  10. DShomshak

    In Need of Some Examples and Recommendations

    First: Thank you, Your Dukeness! The next writing sample omes from my last paid work for Exalted, in Chapter Two of the supplement Masters of Jade. That book dealt with the Guild, a worldwide trading network whose chief businesses are slaves, mercenaries, hard drugs and PURE, UNADULTERATED CAPITALIST EVIL. Put together the East India Company, the Triangle Trade and the Opium Wars, and that's the Guild. One could perhaps suspect that White Wolf is showing a hint of a political viewpoint here. So in a chapter describing Guild activities in various parts of the Exalted setting, I gave 'em what they wanted. Word count was extremely tight, and I and my partner for the chapter were told to give brief sketches of characters who exemplified the Guild's activities. No character sheets; just a paragraph of description that had to be as concise and evocative as possible. Here's the Guild officer who oversees a region of slave-run sugar and rubber plantations: Dean Shomshak
  11. GHWB knew how to make a campaign promise to get elected, and then how to break it in order to govern responsibly. "Read my lips: No new taxes!" But when it became fiscally desirable... he signed a bill into law that raised taxes. I am sure he paid for it politically, but I prefer it to the sort of Republican who thinks deficits are just dandy once they are the ones running them up. He also did good as an ex-president. High point may have been his fundraising with Bill Clinton after the Dec. 26, 2005 earthquake and tsunami. As one pundit put it, in much of the world leaders cling to power no matter what. But here the world saw a leader who had the power to, no kidding, destroy the world if he didn't get his way, who gave up that power without a word of protest. And standing next to the man who beat him to take that world-ending power. Who then left office as gracefully, after seeing his anointed successor lose an election to the son of the man he defeated. Both of them saying, "Help these people, because it's the right thing to do." That, the pundit concluded, is moral authority with teeth. Dean Shomshak
  12. DShomshak

    In Need of Some Examples and Recommendations

    Okay, here's a bit from my very first Exalted writing job, for the 1st edition Storyteller's Companion. The job was to provide background for the Scarlet Dynasty, the aristocracy of the Scarlet Empire, a.k.a the Realm, which has dominated the world for centuries. Dynasts are Terrestrial Exalted, a.k.a. the Dragon-Blooded, set apart from mere mortals by their elemental powers. Since this was the first supplement after the Exalted corebook, there wasn't much more defined about the Scarlet Dynasty. And since it was a short chapter, writing had to be tight. The developer rightly rejected my first draft as derivative drivel. For my second draft, I decided to structure the chapter as a look at the lives of the Dragon-Blooded from childhood to death. Forego the systematic encyclopedia-speak, give the barest outlines and then illustrate through evocative detail. Get at the experience if being a Dynast. As Duke Bushido says, sell the reader on the Dragon-Blooded. Along the way, slip in a few ideas for how to use Dynasts in stories. Other people can work out the details later. As an example, here's a bit about late youth for Dynasts. Anime is a big influence on Exalted, and I gather that school drama is a significant subset of anime, so I gave the Scarlet Dynasty boarding schools: ---------------- YOUTH After primary school, young Dragon-Bloods attend six years of secondary school. The parents have considerably less choice about the school their child attends. Just four academies cater to Exalted students alone. The headmasters of these schools, called the dominies, accept what pupils they will. The mightiest Dynast must still petition for a child’s acceptance, with letters of recommendation, cash donations and the pomise of more grants to follow. (The four academies do not charge fees for services; they expect gifts to honor their labor.) ... Two secular academies claim the Empress herself as their sponsor—or the Regent in her absence. The House of Bells emphasizes the arts of war; its name refers to the clash of swords on shields and armor. This academy occupies a sprawling estate on the southern coast of the Blessed Isle, not far from the port of Arjuf, where warships and legion troop-ships depart for the mainland. Every year, veteran officers re-create entire battles at the House of Bells using cadets as junior officers and people from the nearby villages as make-believe soldiers. The estate’s varied terrain lets young warriors practice combat and related arts in diverse environments. Three times a year, the students hunt condemned criminals through the grounds as a way to burnish their tracking and riding skills. ------------------ So yeah: You don't know who runs the House of Bells, how it's administered, the layout of the place, blah blah blah. But if you're playing a Dragon-Blooded character, I hope you have some idea what it would mean that your character attended the House of Bells, and based on that you could hand your GM (pardon me, Storyteller, la-de-da) a few bits of personal history to work into adventures. And as GM, you have a few ideas about why PCs might visit the House of Bells and what they might do there. Dean Shomshak PS: How do I do a quote box, other than quoting someone else's post?
  13. DShomshak

    In Need of Some Examples and Recommendations

    Fortunately, D&D doesn't do that anymore. Yes, spellcasters have a certain number of "spell slots" that say how many times per day they can cast spells. And characters have lists of what spells they know, which some classes can change each day according to what they think they'll need. But you can use a spell slot to cast any spell you know that's of appropriate level. (D&D magic is still about resource management. Just like so much else in D&D. But it's not as extreme as it used to be.) End of digression; back to Scott's thread. Dean Shomshak
  14. DShomshak

    Dealing with Killer Characters

    If I may be so bold as to speak for Bolo... <bows apologetically> Teleporting the hostages to safety was not a demonstration of Bolo made a mistake in allowing a UAA Teleport. The PC did not "utterly and effortlessly sidestep the story" because -- I strongly suspect from what Bolo's said -- rescuing the hostages was not the story. It was in fact handing the character a chance to be cool and show off their powers. A good Champions GM gives players a chance to show how powerful their characters are by, now and then, handing them situations in which they easily overcome challenges that other people would find horribly difficult or dangerous. The issue was the mage suggesting that the situation was easily resolved by letting the hostages fall and healing them later. Treating the hostages as props with no intrinsic importance, rather than as people who should be protected. Dean Shomshak
  15. DShomshak

    Dealing with Killer Characters

    For me, this seems especially likely since the Aquans probably believe they're the "real heroes." After all, in the Aquans' eyes MI is UTTERLY EVIL. They fight it; therefore, they must be good, right? The Aquans probably send out a steady stream of accusations of MI's villainies, which of course are not widely believed (in part because of the Aquans' criminal actions). If they're smart, they'll want to establish their credibility -- because if they prove they told the truth about Croc dying, maybe some people will wonder if they're telling the truth about MI. I agree, the problem is not really the HKA. That's a valid Power to represent feats such as a brick tearing apart steel plate and smashing through walls. The issue is entirely about whether a character would use that kind of force on another person. Dean Shomshak